SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
South America is considered one of the greatest places on earth for a relaxing vacation, but it’s not always so easy to pack up your life and disappear for a few weeks or even a few days. Luckily some bartenders in Dallas are aware of this so they are bringing the spirits of the region to you at home, literally. You may not be able to get on a flight, but heading over to one of these local establishments and imagining you are in another country is always an easy option, if only a short term fix.
If you find yourself in Trinity Groves and looking for a great meal accompanied with some great cocktails, look no further than Chino Chinatown. Inspired by the history of Chinese immigrants who in the late 19th century found a new home in South America and used the local ingredients found around them in combination of century old cooking techniques, the flavors and style of cuisine in this venue is Asian fusion at its best. Sure, you can stare at the large beautiful mural on the back wall all night but the large front porch is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of their delicious craft cocktails such as the “Pisco Mule” with La Caravedo Pisco, which is perfect on a warm evening.
Possibly the most perfect evening in Dallas can be had in the historic Bishop Arts district at Boulevardier, a modern French Bistro serving up amazing fare along with a beautifully curated wine selection. Here though I believe the best evening is had sitting at the beautiful bar enjoying some house made charcuterie and fresh oysters with a cocktail such as the “Save The Date” while admiring the décor. The Avua Cachaça, tamarind and lemon beautifully compliments the anise from the Meletti in this cocktail but to bring it all together I consider the egg white as the most important ingredient.
This neighborhood brasserie offers food best described as “rustic man cooking” but the venue itself could be mistaken for a casual 40ish capacity craft cocktail bar in Deep Ellum. The immense black walnut bar that encompasses an entire wall at On The Lamb serves cocktails that are as innovative as the dishes being served from the kitchen. Amongst the delicious liquescent selection you will discovery the “Lavender Pisco Sour” with Pisco Portón as the focus accompanied by lemon juice and egg white foam as expected, but what makes this cocktail really stand out is the subtle addition of lavender.
This venue at Mockingbird Station may not have the largest capacity but it is a local staple for classic and modern cocktails alike. The menu at The Peoples Last Stand is full of great unique creations crafted with a large focus on local produce and flavors. The team here also offers cocktail classes for those who are interested in learning more about making great cocktails at home. For a mental escape you have to order “The Big Apple” cocktail with Pisco Portón as the base from Peru.
The inspiration for the décor in this elegant venue came from the Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel in New York and once you leave the streets of Dallas Design District and step foot inside Quill you certainly feel like you have stepped into a sophisticated cocktail lounge. To then imbibe on a “Senya Many Nights” from the creative cocktail menu and again be transported to Peru is really an experience to be had. This cocktail incorporates flavors from all around the globe with the popular Peruvian Pisco Portón as the centerpiece served tall with Sake, yuzu juice and French tarragon syrup to surprise your palate with every sip.
An evening at Bolsa can consist of anything from a friendly get together or a nice evening out with a date. This restaurant is noted as one of the pioneering venues to bring modern mixology to Dallas and also offers great farm-to-table fare if you are a little peckish. You can spot the lofty windows of this re-purposed garage situated around the North Oak Cliff/Bishop Arts district as you arrive but the main feature to notice is the large covered patio extending out of the venue. One of the preferred artisanal cocktail representing Brazil here is “The Girl From Ipanema” with Avua Cachaça accentuated with lime juice, cinnamon, pepper corn and coconut water. If that’s not your thing Bolsa also has its “Solar Flare” with Peruvian La Caravedo Pisco as the base which is then mixed with apricot, passion fruit, aji amarillo paste, lime juice and egg white to give you a beautifully crafted and deliciously tasting cocktail.
In downtown Dallas many enjoy strolling through Klyde Warren Park when the weather permits and if I were to be seen doing this it’s probably not because I’m exercising but because I’m on my way to Lark on the Park, located on the northern edge. Aside from the floor to ceiling windows offering stunning views of the park and great people watching you will find the remaining walls covered in chalkboards with amazing illustrations featuring local artists. While taking in the view why not sit back and enjoy their “Peruvian Fall” cocktail with Pisco Acholada, gran classic bitters, lemon juice and guava topped off with a pungent spiced root beer reduction.
This 1920’s nouveau inspired cocktail den in uptown Dallas exudes class and sophistication without the usually accompanying snobbyness you may expect. Many of the clientele are here for bourbon, as The Standard Pour has been named one of the best places in America for bourbon four years running but they also serve up a damn good cocktail. For instance, on the menu you will find some delicious Peruvian inspired cocktails using Pisco Portón as the base such as “The Outsider” and the “Peach-Co Smash” but for something really bold I recommend something Brazilian like the “Port Allen” with Avua Cachaça, Bols Genever, banana liqueur, a pistachio-coconut orgeat and lime juice.
Sitting at the clean modern bar at Bowen House in uptown Dallas you can’t help but admire the custom chandelier over head, but what really draws your attention are the staff hard at work behind the bar crafting the most awe inspiring concoctions. Since early 2014 in the historic Ahab Bowen building this venue has drawn in people of all walks taste their ever-changing libations. Tell the bartender your flavor preferences and have them whisk up something special just for you or maybe there is something on the menu that grabs your eye. The “Not Cold Yet” on the current menu really delivers at emphasizing the versatility of Pisco by combining it with the flavors of Aperol, brandy and raspberry.
When I wrote our article about The Re-Institutionalization of Hotel Bars in North America I had not yet discovered Midnight Rambler; yet this clandestine establishment certainly deserves a mention. You do not have to be staying at The Joule Hotel to visit this immaculate craft cocktail bar, in fact once you enter the hotel and find the neon “cocktails” sign you descend a few flights of stairs and find yourself in another era. This bar has hints of modern architecture and design mixed with an underlying Gatsby party elegance and serves cocktails deserving of such a party. Try “The Spirit of Juma” for instance with Cachaça, genever, blanc vermouth and lemon juice topped with banana soda and let your mind wander in the Brazilian brilliance.
Founder and creator of the cocktail website and blog Beautiful Booze. Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, recipe developer, and social media guru. Beautiful Booze the website features over 400 original recipes and photography that celebrate cocktails. From "DIY" bourbon tastings to simple 2-ingredient cocktails Beautiful Booze has something special shaking for everyone. Beautiful Booze has been named one of the top 5 cocktail Instagram accounts to follow and Natalie has a passion for Instagram and social media. Natalie is a regular contributor to Foodable WebTV, Drinkwire, Vinepair, and Delish. Her recipes have been featured on Liquor.com, Huffington Post, Fox News Magazine, Today Show, Latin Kitchen, Cosmopolitan, Pop Sugar, Country Living and many more.