Friday, June 24, 2011

Got Art? Dallas Area Artisanal Cocktails Have Got Your Art – Hangin’!

The weather keeps getting warmer and Dallas cocktails just keep getting better. Here's a list of some Big "D" bars and mixologists that really bring cocktails up to a new level. Cheers!

Got Art? Dallas Area Artisanal Cocktails Have Got Your Art – Hangin’!

Artisanal [ahr-tuh-zuh-nal] adj.: Hand-crafted in limited quantities using traditional and specialty ingredients, methods, and techniques resulting in superior quality.

Since 1803 (earliest printed use of the word “cocktail”) mixologists have been vigorously innovating taste sensations and striving for potent potable perfection. The hand-crafted cocktail movement involves the use of fresh seasonal fruits, herbs and spices, homemade mixers, and premium liquors, as well as the use of “craft ice” to create visually stunning and incredibly tasty adult treats.

The current craft-cocktail craze, sweeping the nation, can be traced back to Jerry Thomas' 1862 book The Bar-Tender’s Guide aka How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant's Companion. The trend has certainly not escaped the ever-vigilant eyes of DFW’s discerning foodies (and drinkies). A cornucopia of vintage and hand-crafted cocktails awaits the taste buds of those willing to do a bit of research and make an occasional trip into unfamiliar territory. In fact, Dallas is right at the top of the list when it comes to world-class bartenders and sensational craft-cocktail lounges.

Dallas’ Top Mixologists:

These guys are the geniuses behind Dallas’ hand-crafted mixed-drink boom.

Dale DeGroff - "single-handedly responsible for what's been called the (modern) cocktail renaissance.”
Jason Kosmas - Neighborhood Services Tavern
Brad Hensarling - The Usual
Michael Martensen – President, North Texas chapter United States Bartenders' Guild - Cedars Social
Eddie "Lucky" Campbell - Bolsa
Andrew Lostettor - Neighborhood Services Tavern
Charlie Papaceno – The Windmill Lounge

Master Purveyors of the Cocktail Craft:

The Mansion

2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas, TX 75219 - Try a Guatemalan Sazerac - Ron Zacapa Solera Aged Rum, Lucid Absinthe, and Peychaud’s Bitters; a Bourbon and Mixed Berry Cobbler A tribute to “The Father of Bartending” Jerry Thomas - Bourbon, Lustau East India Solera sherry, and a touch of citrus over crushed ice, topped with fresh berries; or for those with deep pockets, a Millionaire’s Margarita made with Don Julio 1942 and 150-year-old Grand Marnier, for only $75.

Victor Tango’s

3001 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 - The house namesake drink a “Victor Tango” has fresh English cucumber, local mint, blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, and house-made simple syrup; The Sazerac is a classic, made with your choice of Cognac or Rye Whiskey, Peychaud and Angostura Bitters, and house-made simple syrup. Victor Tango? We say Bravo!


901 Ft. Worth Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 - Chef Tim Byres and Smoke are winning all kinds of awards lately, with their upscale take on North-Central Texas/Southwestern cuisine. And Smoke’s drinks reflect the creativity and regional flavors that have garnered Byres so much success of late. Have a SweetWater Stoli - Vodka, Paula’s Texas Lemoncello, Pimm’s, Champagne, Smoke’s strawberry‐rosemary preserve, and a house-made lime cordial; or a Michelada - Lone Star draft, Tim’s Bloody Mary Mix, Smoked BBQ spice and house-made pickle relish.

Bar Belmont

901 Ft. Worth Ave. Dallas, TX 75208 – Just a stone’s throw up the hill from Smoke (literally), Bar Belmont (at the Belmont Hotel) offers a great patio view of downtown and serves up their signature “Belmontini” - 2 shots of citrus Vokda, 2 oz. of Grand Marnier, 8 oz. of pure pomegranate juice, and a splash of champagne.

The Usual

1408 West Magnolia Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76104 – On the other side of the Metroplex, The Usual offers great renditions of ageless, classic cocktails like the Sidecar, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan. Serious drinks for sophisticated tastes are the order of the day here. I’ll have the Usual, please!

Neighborhood Services Tavern

5027 W. Lovers Ln. Dallas, Texas 75209 - Let “Lucky” pour you up a Four Fingers of Fury - Wild Turkey Rye, sweet vermouth, and Regan's orange bitters, with a raw sugar rim; or a Pop’s Martini “Salad” - Ketel One, house pickled vegetables, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive!

Windmill Lounge

5320 Maple Ave. Dallas, TX 75235 - For Dallas old-timers, this used to be the Old Dutch Kitchen Diner (hence the windmill). They pour one of my favorite Martinis in Dallas, mix a helluva drink, and have one of the best juke boxes in town.

Black Swan Saloon

2708 Elm St. Dallas, Texas 75226 – This Deep Ellum spot offers a selection of unique flavor combinations. Gabe Sanchez, the former Ghostbar manager is the mixmaster here. We like the Balsamic Berry - muddled fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, balsamic vinegar, cracked pepper, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, Aviation Gin, shaken and served on the rocks.


614 W Davis St. Dallas, TX 75208 - Always on the cutting edge of adult beverages, sample Bolsa’s Taylor's Buck - Maker's Mark, lemon, apple, Peychaud's Bitters, and ginger beer; or an El Perdedor - Don Q Anejo Rum, pineapple, Falernum, Angostura Bitters, and Horchata. Their Sangrias are also amazing.


777 Main St. Fort Worth, TX 76102 - Another Cowtown cocktail culture maven is Grace, with their Bosc Pear Martini - Grey Goose Le Poire, Amaretto, lemon, Borgo Magredo, Prosecco, and pear; and the sinisterly spicy El Diablo - Sombra Mezcal, Saint Germain, Deviation, lemon, Fresca, agave, and habanero.

Cedar’s Social

1326 S. Lamar St. Dallas, TX 75215 - One of the most ambitious drink menus of the bunch, created by Michael Martensen, check out the The Turf Ccoktail No. III (1930) – Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Dolin Rouge, Tenneyson Absinthe, marascino, and Bookers Bitters; or the Jenga Sour - Jameson Irish Whiskey, lemon juice, cranberry juice, muddled blueberries, egg white, and Peychaud’s Bitters.

Whiskey Cake

3601 Dallas Pkwy. Plano, TX 75093 - For those of your north of LBJ, try “The Cake’s” Bee Sting – Cazadores Blaco Tequlia, lime juice, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, Cointreau, and jalapeno; or the Jaded Kiwi – New Amsterdam Gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, simple syrup, soda, and peach bitters.

Dee Lincoln’s Tasting Room and Bubble Bar (newly opened)

2101 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas, TX 75201 - Dee Lincoln (of Del Frisco’s fame) has just teamed with Ricky Comardelle (her brother) and the Cowboys, to open a wine/champagne tasting room. Martinis run from $13-$15, 48 different wines can be purchased in 2 oz., 4 oz., or 6 oz. samplings, and glasses of champagne are $12-$20. Specailty drinks include the Champagne Cocktail - Kir Royale, J. Cuvee 20, Etoile Rose, and Veuve Clicquot; and the Silver and Blue - Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, and Lillet Blanc with blueberry.

Whether you’re looking for a marvelous Manhattan, a magnificent Moscow Mule, or a myriad of other amusing mixology masterpieces, Dallas has a diverse array of devilishly addicting, hand-crafted drinks for the discerning palate. Visit any (and all) of these artisanal drink havens and you’re sure to find something eclectic and enticing to please any tongue.