When executed correctly an exquisitely made craft cocktail has the ability to make you feel like you should immediately start talking like Humphrey Bogart. The best craft cocktails relay a story, sip after sip and crackle with smooth intensity via full ice cubes and peppery rimmed martini glasses. Although there’s no need to bust out the penguin suit or Cinderella ball gown to visit these bars, you will still be transported to an era of cool. Strap in.
The Midnight Rambler
Located underground in the Joule Hotel in Downtown Dallas, The Midnight Rambler is equal parts sexy and chic. Their menu is a collage of fun names and tonics, plus a rather nice wine and beer selection. If you’re looking to warm the bones in rye, then try the Forged Prescriptions. It’s an aromatic and handsome mix of Rye Whiskey, VSOP Cognac, Jamaican Rum, Italian Vermouth, Amaro and Angostura & Peycheaud Bitters. The elixir balances the bitters and the booze with a hint of lemon zest. It’s not for the faint, but then again neither are most of the Ramblers libations.
Black Swan Saloon
If you don’t know Deep Ellum well enough, you could easily miss this gem. But those that know, know that Black Swan Saloon is a bartender’s bar. It’s the small bar without a sign, limited seating, an affinity for Clint Eastwood and Gabe, one of the coolest bar owners in DFW. Walking in, you may not know what you want, but never mind, simply express the current needs of your thirsty palate and within moments you will be sipping your spirit animal. Must tries here are also his specially infused alcohols made with seasonal fruits, nuts and other fresh ingredients. Both the Honeycrisp apple and vanilla pecan bourbon are kind of magic.
When visiting the Library Bar, I always imagine a woman coming out of nowhere wearing a dazzling black sequenced number, puffing her cigarette out of one of those long black holders and calling everyone “darling” before breaking into a rendition of “What’ll I do,” all while making sweet eyes at the piano man. Part of the historic Warwick Melrose Hotel, the Library Bar is all about ambiance and elegance. Though you can surely come as you are to this cozy bar, you certainly won’t leave as you were. Make your visit during happy hour and try their signature cocktail, A Walk Down Melrose Lane.
Not every house is meant to be a home. And Bowen House is one of those places. The small Victorian style vintage house easily pours up some of the best drinks in town. The uptown bar is an intimate space, with easy on the eyes bar tenders ready to serve up something frothy and smooth. This is a great place to kick back with a few of the classics like an Old Fashion or Dirty Martini. But, if you’re willing to step outside the house, try The Elizabeth Taylor or The No Name, a little something to make you forget who you are.
Inside, it’s the epitome of swanky. The kind of swank that makes you think of 1960s James Bond movies with femme fatales, cat eyes, and tailor fit suits. You may occasionally catch a few people that fit this criteria inside, but mostly this place is laid back. The drink menu changes often atCedar Social
but the good news is you will likely fall in love with your cocktail. The bad news is you may fall too hard and on your next visit the boozy beverage is no longer there. Bartenders are experts here, willing to curtail your cocktail whatever way you like. The prohibition style drinks typically leave a tingle on the tongue, and a resounding, hmm, or yes across your eyelids. Their drinks are not shy about canoodling with egg whites, or crushing fresh hibiscus flowers or playing around with a variety of bitters. These drinks are about taking risks and sipping them slowly through a coupe.
Food, drinks, writing, repeat. Sometimes it happens in that same order, other times not so much. I've been writing and telling stories for longer than I'd care to admit. It took a while for me to realize just how much I preferred those stories when a fork, a knife and a bottle of booze turned out to be the main characters.