Zooz Cocktail Garden Brings Bottle Service and Boozy Desserts to the Wharf

"We're trying to bring a nice European, Dubai feeling to DC."

The bar at Zooz features a star-lit ceiling and black crocodile wallpaper. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

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Zooz. 636 Maine Ave., SW.

The Azzouz brothers are known for over-the-top, TikTok-bait decor exploding with faux flowers and neon quotes at their downtown cocktail bar Urban Roast. You won’t find floor-to-ceiling roses at their newest venture, Zooz, a more upscale lounge bringing nightlife to the Wharf on Friday, March 22. But the “cocktail garden” is definitely extra in its own way with showy cocktails, bottle service, DJs, and boozy desserts.

“We go to Dubai a lot, and we like to go to their lounges. We’re trying to bring a nice European, Dubai feeling to DC,” says Kamal Azzouz, who operates Zooz (a riff off their name) with his brothers Joseph and Anthony. The brothers will also be opening a second location of Urban Roast at the Wharf, so they aimed to give Zooz a “classier” look with a star-lit ceiling above the bar, black crocodile skin-esque wallpaper, and light pink and gray lounge seating.

“People get dressed up, they go to the Wharf, they want to grab dinner, then after dinner, there’s nothing to do. You just walk around the boardwalk or go to the same bars every time. So we’ll be that place where you can come for that late-night action,” says Kamal. The lounge will feature DJs or live performances almost every night, mostly “chill EDM vibes.”

Zooz will host DJs or live music almost every night. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Service starts with white tea and thyme-scented towelettes wrapped in Zooz branding—another touch the brothers picked up in Dubai. Elaborately garnished and smoked cocktails ($18 to $32) are wheeled to the table on a bar cart and come with flowery menu descriptions like “irresistibly alluring and glamorous” or “a delicate and refreshing masterpiece.”  An espresso martini with coffee barrel-aged tequila is decorated with a chocolate feather covered in gold flakes. An elderflower white negroni glimmers with a diamond-shaped ice rock—and comes with a bonus glass of Champagne. And an old fashioned with earl gray-infused smoked vanilla bourbon is poured tableside with a decanter of “vanilla aroma.” You’ll also find “forgotten classics,” like… a Manhattan or margarita.

Drinks come with complimentary nuts or blue cheese-stuffed olives, but the food menu is limited to a couple charcuterie, cheese, and fruit board options. Instead the focus is on desserts like tiramisu or rose-shaped chocolate-and-raspberry cake, many of which are infused with booze or can be paired with cocktails.

Zooz will also offer bottle service and stock some rare and expensive bottles, including Louis XIII Cognac Rare Cask 42.1. Kamal says they paid $50,000 for it: “It’s probably not for sale. If someone wants to open it up, then we will just have to talk to them and see. It’s probably like $20,000 to $30,000 a shot. Once you open the bottle, you’re losing a lot of value on it.” Joseph adds that they got it to project a message: “We have that here to symbolize our elegance and our sophistication.”

Zooz. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.