Atmosphere: On a recent Tuesday night, Brooks and Browns has the sedate vibe of your average hotel bar. The lighting isn't quite dim and the air is thick with the swagger of blues guitar and the juniper scent of Tanqueray. The place is more getaway than downtown destination. A seat at the bar prompts a little light chatter with the bartender, Arlin. He says jazz night—now about two months old—is usually pretty busy here, with 30 to 35 customers. Summer was hopping, with music on the patio and listeners on blankets in the grass. Tonight, it feels more like something from a noir novel.
Who you're listening to: Ruthie Dada has the kind of smoky, deep, haunting voice you'd expect to hear in a speakeasy in the 1920s. Her accompanist, guitarist Chris Duparri, plays soft, dark riffs that are almost folky. It's country jazz, or maybe Western blues. They cover "I Wanna Be Like You," King Louie's famed jazz anthem from Disney's The Jungle Book. Duparri plays slow, Dada sings seductively. You love every minute of it.
What you're drinking: Top-shelf martinis. They aren't the $3 fare you get at the Badlander during Sunday Jazz Martini Night, but the pour is worth the extra squeeze on your wallet. For $6.50 you can get the Yellow Rattler, a bar specialty made with Tanqueray, sweet vermouth and orange juice. Take a glance at the discount menu too. Happy hour and jazz night overlap here, from 6 to 7 p.m., so you can get $4 well martinis and feel just as classy at two-thirds the price.
Who you're with: The bartender, the musicians, a few hotel guests. Best recommendation, though, is to bring a date. Nothing says romance like a martini glass, a late-night appetizer and Dada's voice. Tuesday night never felt so good.
Where to find it: In the basement of the Holiday Inn Downtown At The Park, 200 S. Pattee St. Jazz Night lasts from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday.