Entering Jacoby's Storehouse, on the southwest corner of the Arcata Plaza, already feels like going back in time. It's not hard to imagine this hub of the town filled with dry goods, a pier extending south all the way into Humboldt Bay, where supplies from San Francisco were unloaded.

The Storehouse's latest addition, a below- ground jazz lounge called The Basement, harkens back to a different era, when the licks were hot and the drinks were cold. Descend the staircase in an unmarked alcove from the sidewalk and — depending on whether the band is playing Louis, Miles or Django that particular night — you'll be transported to prohibition-era Chicago, jazz-age New York or the caveaus of Paris.

click to enlarge The Basement. - RYAN FILGAS
  • Ryan Filgas
  • The Basement.

The intimate, dimly lit space is comfortably appointed with well-placed couches and lounge chairs in the narrow but deep pit that extends from the stage. A half level above are tables and a long wooden bar.

On a quiet Thursday night, a guitar duo set up on stage, backlit by an exposed brick wall, while a number of regulars mingled at the bar. The cocktail menu is short but thoughtful, with classics like the French 75 with lemon, gin and Champagne, and enjoyable newer, inventive drinks, like the Lazy Shinazy, which combines rye and Earl Grey syrup. Nearly all are made with local spirits and the bar is heavily stocked with other favorites. Daily wine specials and beers on tap are available, too.

Bar bites in the form of small plates are a welcome addition — a dish of olives, charcuterie and dessert will help you last to the end of the show.

click to enlarge Having a good time with friends. - RYAN FILGAS
  • Ryan Filgas
  • Having a good time with friends.

And you'll want to stay for the show. The Basement presents itself as a jazz club and it feels both accommodating and a little bit speakeasy-naughty. I'll admit to being a novice when it comes to the world's famous jazz houses but this one feels like it's what the space (formerly an Italian restaurant) was always meant to be. Even the warm acoustics seem to be by design rather than happenstance, allowing the music to expand in the space. The Basement hosts live music Thursday through Saturday, but it's worth checking the calendar for upcoming local favorites and touring bands.

There's a murmur across the room as the warm guitar sounds begin to fill the space. The players take turns soloing on romantic jazz standards, pausing between songs to engage with a growing audience as you soak in the ambience of a bygone era. 

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About The Author

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth was an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal from 2013 to 2017.

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