BAR DE JO - Los Escullos
Rated by many as one of the best bars in Andalucia - and certainly one of the most unusual Bar de Jo was set up by a Harley Davidson-riding Frenchman in 1993 and became a legend until it closed in 2017.
This was a true desert bar and beer garden with live music, in the middle of nowhere, offering an atmosphere which is a world away from the Andalucian coast. El Toxico is the possibly rum-based (ingredients are a closely-guarded secret) house shot. You could see live bands here many nights in summer.
Joe Strummer of the Clash called the bar his 'favourite place in the world' - he was a regular and celebrated his 50's and last birthday here (21-08-2002) with friends Paul Weller (Jam), Jem Finer (The Poques) and Damain Hirst (Artist) The bar continued to hold a tribute night to Joe Strummer each 21 August.
The bar was a mecca for bikers, but only Harley Davidson's were allowed to park inside the bar itself. Jo runs a small motorbike workshop from the premices. The crowd was a mix of all types. Dogs are welcome too.
Due to the difficulty to legalise the premises Jo set up members cultural association called La Jolie Rouge.
On the 5th August 2017 at 04.38 am, following a complaint by a neighbour, local police visited the bar and confirmed its existence to Nijar Town Hall who issued a closure order on Friday 15th Septemeber 2017 and the local police supported by Guardia civil served it as the crew were setting up for the weekends end of season party. Despite meetings with Nijar Town Hall the Jo's bar remains closed. One solution would be for the Town Hall to declare the bar 'special tourist interest'. The Gardian did include in its 10 best beach bars in Spain; no mean feat considering it is 500m from the coast. However a favourable report from Junta de Andalucia Medio Ambiente (Environment department) would be more dificult to obtain especially as the bar is located within the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. For updates consult facebook page.
Journalists Fernando Rodríguez Cruz and Jesús García Pérez have interviewed 150 people to tell the story of the remarkable Bar de Jo in a book simply titled Bar de Jo. There were two motivations; to help visitors understand the full story since most only know a snapshot from their own visits, and to underline the bar's credentials to the authorities.
A very successful crowd funding campaign was launched in August 2021 and funds were soon raised to print a 250 page quality hardback picture book was published in late 2021. The official book launch and authors signing took place at Jo's Bar on 05-12-2021. After the official presentation the music started and the party began. Many guests were hoping that this would not be their last chance to drink and dance at Bar de Jo.
Alongside the book project is also a crowdfunded film project. Above is the trailer of the future release.
For the curious to get to the bar site, head towards Camping Los Escullos and keep going to the end of the tarmac road. Continue 50m further and immediately after crossing a small stream, turn left turn down a smaller track - the bar is about 200m further along on the right-hand side. This track continues to Los Escullos village so you could also access from there. If so, take the track opposite Hostal Casa Emilio and keep right at the fork, with the fence always on your right-hand side, and you will reach the location of the bar on your left after about one km.