Category Archives: Barmoire

Sugar and spice and everything nice: 2018’s best in DFW cocktails

Some of the year’s best, clockwise from upper left: Cody Riggs’ Bitter Marriage at The Mitchell; Griffin Keys’ Let Me Clarify at Boulevardier; Matt Konrad’s Witch Hunter at Thompson’s Bookstore; and Ryan Payne’s Blu-Tang Clan at Tiny Victories.

Housing prices are falling, the stock market is flailing, but if there’s anything we can count on, it’s craft cocktails: From Dallas to Lewisville to Frisco, from Fort Worth to Trophy Club to McKinney, imbibers in 2018 had an ever-growing bounty of riches from which to choose.

The scene welcomed new destinations like Ruins, 4 Kahunas, 3Eleven and Tiny Victories into the fold, along with solid cocktail programs at new restaurants like Macellaio, Sachet and Bullion in Dallas, and Local Yocal in McKinney. While trying to keep up with it all is a Sisyphean effort, some trends did emerge from within the fray.

This was the year of designer dessert drinks and aguardientes, or sugarcane-based spirits: Rum, the most common, was more widely implemented, and not just at 4 Kahunas, Arlington’s legit new tiki outpost. With the thirst for new and unique liquors reaching ever farther into untapped regions, a pair of lesser-known aguardientes found footing in local cocktails – Oaxaca’s fabulous Paranubes and Michoacan-based charanda.

It wasn’t all sugarland, though: Singani 63, a gorgeous Bolivian brandy similar to pisco, and Italicus, the beautiful bergamot-flavored Italian aperitif, also made welcome inroads, while Spanish sherries flourished and Japanese shochu tiptoed on the fringes, most notably in George Kaiho’s ingenious Earth Wind and Fire at Jettison, which teamed it with mezcal and Green Chartreuse.

Visually, bartenders went the extra mile to create drinks as photogenic as they were tasty, such as Griffin Keys’ Let Me Clarify, a stunning Queen’s Swizzle variation at Bishop Arts’ Boulevardier; Matt Konrad’s fernet-topped Witch Hunter at Thompson’s Bookstore in Fort Worth; Ryan Payne’s captivating Blu-Tang Clan at Tiny Victories; and at the Mitchell, Cody Riggs’ tongue-in-cheek Bitter Marriage, garnished with a faux business card hawking the divorce firm of Ditcher, Quick and Hyde.

Cocktails were also a natural landing zone for turmeric, the “it” health ingredient of the year — for example, Wes Enid’s Turmeric Daiquiri at Atwater Alley in Knox-Henderson. Meanwhile, bartenders more boldly employed nuttiness as a flavor – as in Jones Long’s pecan-infused A Drink With No Name at Bolsa, or Kaiho’s sesame-paste-enhanced Concrete Jungle at Jettison – and increasingly looked to tropical fruits like banana, mango, passion fruit and guava.

As always, the cocktail cornucopia was hard to narrow down, but these were my 15 favorite drinks of 2018.

Guillen’s Gaucho Highball: Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

15. GAUCHO HIGHBALL (Daniel Guillen, La Duni, NorthPark Center)

Glenfiddich 12 Single Malt, Fernet, grapefruit soda

In the summer, the Speyside single malt Glenfiddich launched a campaign pushing its 12-year-old Scotch as the perfect vehicle for a whisky highball, a drink typically supplemented simply with club soda. But Guillen, beverage manager at La Duni, gave the drink Argentinian flair with a splash of Fernet – a darkly bitter Italian liqueur beloved in the South American nation – and a housemade grapefruit soda. “It’s so simple, and yet so good,” Guillen said. “You could drink a few of these, just like that.” With Glenfiddich’s rich pear-apple depths rolling over your palate, held in check by a pull of Fernet’s bitter reins, you might tend to agree – especially at the ridiculous happy hour price of just $6 a pop.

If a light touch you seek, this Brick and Bones invention will ride to your rescue.

14. DUDLEY DO-RIGHT (Bar team, Brick and Bones, Deep Ellum)

Tomato-infused vodka, basil syrup, lemongrass water

It may be the hardest sell on the menu, but Dudley Do-Right is the low-key star of the Brick and Bones show, where every drink is named for a cartoon character. A delicately flavored triumvirate of tomato-infused vodka, basil syrup and lemongrass water, “it’s like a Caprese salad” in liquid form, said bar co-owner Cliff Edgar. Simple, bright and refreshing, so nuanced is its touch that the vodka, typically content to be the vehicle for other flavors, actually shines in this one – completing a righteous drink worthy of its name.

Tiki met salted caramel in this one-night-only gem from Uptown’s Parliament at a pop-up event in Oklahoma City.

13. TAI OF SUM YUNG GAI (Eddie Campbell, Parliament, Uptown)

Pyrat XO Rum, lime, pineapple, ginger orgeat, soy sauce reduction

This one’s a bit of a cheat as it was rolled out at Parliament’s one-night pop-up fundraiser at Oklahoma City’s Jones Assembly in July. The event was pure Parliament, with a half-dozen bartenders making the trip along with a dazzling 21-drink menu. (Pop-ups typically sport no more than half a dozen.) “We wanted to keep it low-maintenance,” quipped bar owner Eddie Campbell. The lineup included this deliciously innovative tiki blend of rum and citrus tanged up with a ginger orgeat, then rimmed with a soy sauce reduction. Think sweet tropical meets salted caramel and you get the idea.

The Queen is Dead was among several Industry Alley cocktails bartender Tommy Fogle named after songs by The Smiths.

12. THE QUEEN IS DEAD (Tommy Fogle, Industry Alley, The Cedars)

Sherry, orange curacao, Licor 43, lemon

At Industry Alley, the low-key cocktail haven in Dallas’ Cedars neighborhood, bartender Tommy Fogle found his groove with liquorous treats like the Golden Mylk Fizz, a creamy riot of honey, coconut and turmeric, and the Boys Don’t Cry, a bitter spin on a cocktail from New Orleans’ Cure (hence the name). But my favorite of all was The Queen is Dead, a sherry-forward jewel that adorned the fortified wine with a wreath of lemon, orange curacao and Spanish vanilla liqueur, unleashing a citrus-grape tang that zipped across your palate like Zeke Elliott headed for the goal line.

When it came to Pisco Sour variations, I found myself constantly seeking Greener Pastures.

11. GREENER PASTURES (Cody Barboza, Armoury D.E., Deep Ellum)

Pisco Porton, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino, rosemary, lime, egg white

Armoury’s got a thing for Pisco Sour variations, which is fine with me, because so do I. Having already produced the Hungarian-influenced Speak of the Devil, which showed up on this list two years ago, the Deep Ellum bar this year introduced Barboza’s Greener Pastures, more fragrant and floral with a sprig of smoked rosemary. The herb’s aromas were just muscular enough to cap the cocktail’s botanical brawn.

The Old Spiced: Here to fulfill your dark chocolate cravings.

10. OLD SPICED (Jones Long, Lounge Here, East Dallas)

Coffee-infused bourbon, crème de cacao, Fernet Branca, mole bitters

Jones Long, formerly of Oak Cliff’s Bolsa and Ruins in Deep Ellum, took over the bar program at East Dallas’ Lounge Here earlier this year. She took to her new role with aplomb and creativity, even fashioning faux olives from pickled grapes in her Don Vito, a riff on the classic Godfather. But my favorite was the Old Spiced, a hearty handshake of a drink that was not unlike biting into a bar of spicy dark chocolate, only more refreshing. It’s so satisfying that I can’t even be annoyed that every time I order it, I’m reminded of the Old Spice commercial jingle.

Libertine, you nut, you. Lower Greenville’s longtime cocktail landmark still got it goin’ on.

9. FIDELIO (Daniel Zoch, Libertine Bar, Lower Greenville)

El Dorado 12 Rum, Amaro Montenegro, pistachio paste, orange juice, egg white, salt, pistachio dust

The Libertine, on Lower Greenville, was one of Dallas’ early craft mainstays thanks to former bar manager Mate Hartai (now with spirits producer The 86 Co.), and while its cocktail program might not get much attention anymore, it’s still going strong with seasonal drinks like Daniel Zoch’s Fidelio. A dessert-like dance of sweet rum, delicately bittersweet Amaro Montenegro and pistachio, rimmed with ground pistachio dust, the Fidelio is creamy, nutty and lush, with just enough bitter to give it a lovely, nuanced finish.

Bowen House brought the heat with the peppery Puesto Del Sol.

8. PUESTO DEL SOL (Kayla McDowell/Greg Huston, Bowen House, Uptown)

Espolon blanco, muddled roasted red pepper, rosemary syrup, lemon, black pepper

It’s a joy to listen to McDowell and Huston brainstorm behind the bar, and this savory concoction was one of their many menu collaborations, pairing slightly fruity tequila with roasted pepper for a gently spicy sipper of a cocktail. Peppery citrus on the nose paved the way for a rosemary-forward body and a finish that complemented the drink’s aromas. Looking forward to seeing what this team comes up with in 2019.

A tribute to Pixar’s Coco, Mendoza’s Grito had me salivating for a sequel.

7. GRITO! (Henry Mendoza, The People’s Last Stand, Mockingbird Station)

Mezcal, lime, pink/black peppercorn syrup, agave, sage, Boston Bittahs

Mendoza’s Grito had me aay-yai-yai-ing like a joyful mariachi – the sound of which the drink’s name recalls. The first of several libations Mendoza devised in tribute to Pixar’s Day-of-the-Dead-themed Coco, its cool but fiery mix of smoky mezcal and sage, peppercorn syrup, agave and bitters was an otherworldly journey through smoke and citrus spice. Topped with a sprinkling of red peppercorn and cigarillos of dried sage, its pachanga-in-your-mouth mix of pepper and chamomile/citrus bitters was what made this spicy number shine.

The Nut House: Banana-nut bread in a glass.

6. NUT HOUSE (Josh Brawner, LARK on the Park, Downtown Dallas)

Flor de Cana 7-year rum, Don Ciccio & Figli nocino, Tempus Fugit Crème de Banane, walnut bitters, nutmeg

Hey LARK, it was real: Shannon Wynne’s airy, chalk-art-bathed restaurant shuttered before year’s end, but not before its bar program had returned to the glory of its opening days. Bar manager Josh Brawner’s Nut House was a standout, inspired by his love of banana nut bread. “I’m a foodie, so I always try to replicate things in my drinks,” says Brawner, now at Wynne’s Meddlesome Moth. Built on aged rum, the Nut House was a liquid treat, festive and nutty, awash in walnut and banana liqueurs with a dash of walnut bitters to boot; a shaving of nutmeg added flattering aromatics.

I could wax Brazilian all day about Pollard’s luscious Autumn in Brazil.

5. AUTUMN IN BRAZIL (Jason Pollard, The Usual, Fort Worth)

Avua Amburana, sherry, Cocchi di Torino, demerara syrup, saffron bitters

A couple of years have passed since cachaca, Brazil’s national spirit, enjoyed a brief moment in the DFW sun, but thankfully The Usual’s Jason Pollard hasn’t let the spirit’s grassy, banana-fruit magic slip into obscurity. His Autumn in Brazil takes Avua’s aged Amburana cachaca and balances its notes of caramel, vanilla and spiced bread with the rich nuttiness of sherry, rounding it out with sweet vermouth and caramel-esque demerara syrup. With hints of raisin, chocolate and cinnamon and the aroma of musky grapes, it’s a sensational seasonal sipper.

Powell’s Mango Lassie, a fabulous reinterpretation of India’s summer refresher.

4. MANGO LASSIE (Jesse Powell, Parliament, Uptown)

El Dorado 5, citrus, mango, yogurt, honey, tajin

On a trip to Chicago’s Pub Royale – an Anglo-Indian-style tavern – earlier this year, Powell discovered the wonder of the mango lassi, India’s traditional mango milkshake. Naturally, as he savored its mix of yogurt, mango, milk and sugar, he thought to himself: How can I make this into a cocktail? Luckily for Dallas, he came through like a champ, structuring its viscous, sour-sweet depths atop a foundation of rum and garnishing the Creamsicle-orange drink with cool mint and a clever rim of Mexican tajin, the chili powder often gracing that country’s mango street snacks. Poured over crushed ice, it was a tasty summer refresher that I still craved in the cold of winter.

The Mitchell’s Gillespie wasn’t monkeying around when he came up with this cocktail.

3. MONKEYING AROUND (Sam Gillespie, The Mitchell, Downtown Dallas)

Gin, Chareau, Genepy des Alpes, Dolin Blanc

Gillespie originally crafted this exquisite spring cocktail for a special event at the bar featuring Monkey 47, a berry-influenced gin made in Germany’s Black Forest. He accentuated its flavors and feel with rich aloe liqueur, herbal alpine liqueur and dry vermouth, but the gin’s high price-point made it impractical to put on The Mitchell’s standard menu. Instead, he substituted standout Botanist gin, serving the drink in a clear patterned glass that highlighted its see-through appearance. With herbs and white grape on the nose, it’s a gorgeously botanical Martini – all cucumber, spearmint and sweet spice and an herbal sweet-sour finish.

George Kaiho and Andrew Kelly, Jettison

2. SLEEPY COYOTE (George Kaiho/Andrew Kelly, Jettison, West Dallas)

Coffee-infused Paranubes, cinnamon syrup, Ancho Reyes, horchata

Kaiho and Kelly, the personable one-two punch behind the bar at Jettison, wanted to create a cocktail using horchata, the Mexican cinnamon rice milk. Specifically, as a popular after-dinner destination, they wanted to craft a dessert drink, so as fans of The Big Lebowski they devised this buzzy riff on a White Russian, using a base of banana-funky Paranubes – a Oaxacan aguardiente – infused with coffee, cold-brew style. To that they added cinnamon syrup and a splash of spicy Ancho Reyes liqueur, then poured it over crushed ice for a rich cinnamon coffee with a kick.

Jenkins’ Alpine Blues: A heady expression of forest growth in a glass.
  1. ALPINE BLUES (Scott Jenkins, Hide, Deep Ellum)

Singani 63, Pasubio amaro, Cap Corse quinquina, Nux walnut liqueur, clarified lemon

Scott Jenkins, Hide’s resident mixmaster, killed it again this year: The Oaxacan Shaman, his mezcal-aguardiente mashup, was masterful, and Quest for the Sun, a sunflower-seed-infused vodka vehicle, was lusciously butternutty. But my favorite of all was his Alpine Blues: He missed the mountains, see; a whirlwind trip had filled him with memories of brisk, chilly air and damp ground covered in foliage. He let his longings inspire this wonderfully balanced reflection of nature’s growth. In his mind, walnut liqueur formed the base soil, deep and rich with decomposing nettles; blueberry-influenced alpine bitter liqueur was the surface – “earthy and fruity; there’s still some life in it;” a quinine aperitif and clarified lemon juice were the new growth, with the bitter citrus of biting into a young stem; Singani 63, a botanical Bolivian brandy, was the blossom. “There were specific slopes and colors in my mind,” he says. “It made me have the blues not to be there.”

Whiskey Exchange 8.0: In Dallas, the giving of spirits prompts a spirit of giving

Dante Loquercio displays the whiskey he’s just unwrapped to other attendees at Saturday’s 8th annual Whiskey Exchange. The private event raised $12,000 for charity.

The way Nico Martini remembers it, one day his wife told him she and the girls were going to hold a White Elephant exchange, and he said, “OK, what do I need to bring?” And she said, “No, no, no – this is just for the girls.”

“So I said, `Oh, OK. Well, me and the guys are gonna do a whiskey exchange, and I don’t even know what that means, but I’m gonna do it,” says Martini, co-founder of Dallas-based Bar Draught, a mobile cocktail business.

Eight years later, Martini’s annual Whiskey Exchange has grown so much that at Saturday’s now-annual event, held at Bar Draught’s Design District offices, he split the gathering into two groups to facilitate the actual exchange, with dozens of attendees picking in pre-ordained random order from a table topped with discreetly wrapped bottles.

Like any good White Elephant party, there was plenty of pilfering and plundering and a handful of premium prizes to be had, and everybody went home with a quality bottle of whiskey. And because the event is now done with charity in mind, the rules were simple: Participants – who each paid $20 admission – had to bring a whiskey worth at least $50 and were urged to bid for a host of donated spirits, concert tickets and tasting and travel opportunities via a raffle, silent auction and live auction.

Bags of whiskeys, just waiting to be unwrapped.

But before all that happened, guests heard from Tonya Stafford, director of It’s Going To Be Okay, the anti-human-trafficking organization that would benefit from this year’s festivities. A former victim of trafficking herself, Stafford shared her emotional story with the group.

“Hearing that was harrowing,” one attendee said afterward. “I immediately went and bought a bunch more raffle tickets.”

What began as what Martini described as “basically just this little dudes’ Christmas party” is now a serious source of holiday giving – a commitment that began in 2013 after Martini had dinner at the house of a friend with roots in the Philippines. That dinner took place not long after Super Typhoon Yolanda had ravaged the archipelagic nation, and the man’s village had been badly hit. In particular, the roof of a local elementary school had been torn away, so he asked those gathered around the table for any donations that could help, since his brother still lived in the area.

Martini thought: Hmmm. The whiskey exchange was coming up. Maybe there was a way to help. “I said I’d see what I could do,” he says.

He asked his buddies if they’d mind chipping in $20 apiece to take part, to benefit the cause. Everyone was eager to help. Martini also got a few donated items to raffle off, and the event would ultimately raise $800 toward the school’s reconstruction.

Whiskey Exchange 2018
Event organizer Nico Martini reminds the crowd what the night’s event is really all about.

Since then, the event has benefited organizations such as The Birthday Party Project and Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Saturday’s 8thannual whiskey exchange raised $12,000 for It’s Going To Be OK. And this year, for the first time, the gathering shed its males-only origins – because, as Martini put it, while he might have felt he had reason at first, that reason no longer made sense. “I’m so glad I saw so many whiskey loving ladies enojying this event,” Martini would say later. “It made the whole thing feel a little more … I don’t know… real? I guess? Regardless, it’s great to no longer be exclusionary in any way.”

As the night wore on and a DJ laid down tracks, participants shared whiskey stories and knowledge while sipping from a collection of donated bottles – including Whistle Pig, High West, Glenlivet and Jameson and locally made standouts like Balcones and Ironroot. The giving of spirits had bred a spirit of giving, which, in addition to a bottle of whiskey, was maybe the best thing anyone could take home.

“I’m glad we raised so much for charity,” Martini would say in a Facebook post, “but I know that the biggest recipent is me. This gives me hope. This event, this group of people, these causes we support. There are so many things in this world we can’t control… but once we come together and set our minds to it, we can change our world. One good cause at a time.”

For this tequila rep, Dia de los Muertos is a time to celebrate spirits both here and gone

Partida tequila, Sofia Partida, Ruins, Deep Ellum
Partida’s Sofia Partida enjoying a flight of the eponymous brand’s various expressions at Ruins, in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood.

On Friday, not long after she returns home to Northern California, Sofia Partida will make one last run to the store to pick up some roses and Mexican sweet bread.

Those were among the items cherished by her late mother and father, who were among the farming families who settled the agricultural region around Yuba City, Calif. The items will be placed alongside candles, photos and other items in honor of them and other passed-on loved ones for Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday celebrating the dead, which Partida has celebrated as long as she can remember. 

“All the things they loved go on the altar,” says Partida, national brand ambassador for Partida Tequila, who visited the Dallas area this week. The items are meant to both guide and welcome their spirits back to the land of the living, a tradition that dates back to Aztec times. Naturally, a bottle of tequila adorns Partida’s altar, too, in honor of both her father, who loved the spirit, and her uncle Enrique, whose time-honored agave production gave rise to what would become one of the category’s most beloved brands.

Growing up, Partida recalled her uncle traveling up from his home in Amatitan, Jalisco, to help during her family farm’s busy season. As an adult, after her father had passed away, she wanted to get to know Enrique better, so she traveled to Amatitan, where he introduced her to the rich culture of the Tequila Valley.

“It’s a living, breathing tequila lifestyle,” Partida says. “Like a step back in time. The whole region is based on that.”

Amatitan is just down the road from the town of Tequila, from which the agave-based spirit gets its name. The entire valley thrives with tequila distilleries and fields of blue agave, the variety from which all tequila is derived. Partida was entranced. Together with a marketing guru who wanted to get into the spirits business, she co-founded the Partida Tequila brand, which launched in 2005-06 and whose blanco, reposado and anejo expressions have gone on to earn numerous awards.

The brand is rooted in the agave growing methods practiced by Partida’s uncle, among the loved ones she honors on Dia de los Muertos. Here she holds the brand’s premium expression, Elegante.

She knows she wouldn’t be here without Enrique, which is why she still honors him every year on the Mexican holiday. It heartens her to see that the joyful celebration has entered the American mainstream, overcoming its morbid associations with the help of major cultural landmarks like Disney-Pixar’s Coco.

The yearly celebration, which adopted elements of Catholicism with the Spanish conquest of Mexico, starts Oct. 31 and continues through Nov. 2. Along with her parents, Partida’s home altar also commemorates a niece who died of cancer, “and my husband’s mom, even though she was Mormon. I hope she doesn’t get mad at me.”

Like her mother did years before, she’ll share her memories of those who have passed on. And then probably sip some tequila.

“Death is not sterile in Mexico,” Partida says. “People in Amatitan really do mourn and wear black for 30 days. And then” – she gestures, as if quickly dusting off her hands – “it’s done. They grieve – and then they honor the person’s life.”

You can handle the proof: Shochu, Japan’s national spirit, making inroads in DFW

shochu
Shochu, once a spirit of the Japanese working class, is becoming increasingly available as the craft-cocktail renaissance prompts interest in global spirits.

A man and woman sitting at the bar eye the glass curiously at Jettison, in West Dallas, not sure what to make of this liquid they’ve barely heard of, which has been poured over ice. The man picks it up and brings it to his nose. “I can smell the sweet potato,” he says.

The vegetal sweetness is evident on the tongue, too – that’s the beauty of shochu, the centuries-old, national spirit of Japan, which is slowly gaining a steady, if still uncertain, foothold in Dallas-Fort Worth as a casual Japanese food scene blossoms throughout the area.

“Because it’s only one-time distilled, you really taste the base ingredient,” says Jettison’s bar manager, George Kaiho, who grew up in Japan until he was 18. “And potato and rice shochu will taste totally different.”

Bowen House, shochu
In Uptown, Bowen House’s Do, Re, Miso cocktail supplements delicate rice shochu with fennel flavor and white miso paste

Shochu’s single distillation keeps its alcohol level between 20 and 25 percent, not as strong as most spirits but still heftier than wine, making it a great accompaniment to yakitori and other small dishes over convivial, leisurely dinners at Japanese izakayas.

“I enjoy the nuance and complexity,” says Justin Holt, sous chef at Lucia in Bishop Arts, who plans to feature shochu at his upcoming restaurant, Salaryman. Shochu’s low-proof nature, he says, means more of them can be sampled in a single sitting – typically as a mix of shochu and soda (or juice, or occasionally iced tea) called a chu-hai, basically a shochu highball (hence the abbreviated name).

Besides rice and sweet potato, the spirit is made from things like soba, sugarcane and, most commonly, roasted barley, giving the category a broad range of flavor profiles, from mild to aggressively earthy.

Barley-based shochu is typically dry and spicy, while sweet potato is at the root of many premium shochus prized for their natural sweetness. Some rice shochus have a mild sweetness similar to sake, though some, Kaiho says, can seem nearly flavorless. The types of yeast used in the fermentation process also play a role in flavor profiles.

shochu
At since-closed Yayoi in Plano, bartender Lyndsy Rausch featured shochu in its traditionally popular highball form, mixed with tea or soda.

While shochu began as a working-class spirit, the global craft spirits trend has ushered in higher quality versions fit for drinking on the rocks, or with water. One brand, a sherry-cask-aged sweet potato shochu called Angel’s Temptation, can sell for as much as a fine whiskey.

In addition to Jettison, you’ll find shochu at Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum, Plano’s Yama Izakaya and Irving’s Mr. Max. This being America, its rising availability means bartenders are exploring its use in cocktails: In Uptown, Bowen House features the spirit in its delicious Do, Re, Miso, served in a small bowl, while Oak Lawn’s Izakaya RoMan (at which Kaiho consulted) spins several shochu variations of classics like the Negroni and Martini.

At since-closed Yayoi in Plano, in addition to a number of traditional chu-hai combinations, bartender Lyndsy Rausch blended shochu with matcha, yuzu and soda in her Meet Your Matcha cocktail as well as in a wasabi-spiced Bloody Mary.

“It’s a wonderful liquor that unfortunately is still a little hard to find in Dallas,” Rausch says. “Adding matcha to it was really the first thing that came to mind, because I wanted something earthy to match its complex flavors.”

shochu
At Jettison, in West Dallas, George Kaiho’s Earth Wind and Fire is a fine example of how shochu’s delicate flavor can be used effectively in a cocktail.

One reason shochu hasn’t yet found popular footing in the U.S., Kaiho believes, is because there’s no definitive shochu-based cocktail. He sees shochu following a path similar to pisco, the national spirit of Peru, in that it’s easily subbed in cocktails for spirits like vodka or gin – except that it offers the added benefit of being low-proof, a slower-paced option that’s trending around the country.

“In order to popularize shochu, there needs to be a cocktail,” Kaiho says. “If you can make a good cocktail with potato shochu, you’ve got yourself a good cocktail.”

Kaito’s latest shochu cocktail wouldn’t be a bad place to start: His Earth Wind & Fire supplements Shiranami’s sweet potato shochu with a harmony of smoky mezcal, the sweetly vegetal backbeat of Green Chartreuse and a citrusy yuzu tincture. The mezcal and Chartreuse boost the drink’s alcohol content while still allowing the earthy shochu to take the lead.

Thankfully, the sweet potato flavor is strong enough to meet the task, since, as bartender Tommy Fogle of Industry Alley in the Cedars notes, many shochus are so subtle that they’re better off being consumed straight.

“I feel like shochu is so light and delicate, it gets lost really easily,” Fogle says as he pours a sample. “Why put it in a cocktail? The point of this is to buy a bottle with a buddy and just take shots until the bottle is gone.”

For those long aching for tiki, Arlington’s 4 Kahunas is a painkiller

tiki
J.P. Hunter and Chris Powell, two of the four kahunas, confer at the bar with bar manager Brad Bowden at newly opened 4 Kahunas, a tiki bar in Arlington.

Step past the industrial park-like façade of 4 Kahunas in Arlington and you’ll find yourself in the likes of something the Dallas-Fort Worth area hasn’t had in some time: A real live tiki joint, one that even the most ardent tikiphile can enjoy.

“I never thought I’d work in a place where patrons were battling with little pirate ships and shark mouths,” said bar manager Brad Bowden of one evening’s crowd. “They were like little kids.“

With a four-page tiki drink menu backed by a thatched-roof bar, island-inspired wall art and a soundtrack infused with surf and exotica, 4 Kahunas embraces the tiki aesthetic with a fervor not seen in DFW since the days of Trader Vic’s.

Tiki-philes know that its culture extends far beyond cocktails, but ever since Vic’s sailed off into the horizon, those who’ve carry a torch for tiki have only marginally seen their daiquiri dreams fulfilled, from Proper’s ongoing three-month “tiki pop-up” in Fort Worth to, in Dallas, a short-lived tiki reboot of Sunset Lounge in 2013 and the confused clubbiness of Pilikia.

Otherwise, tiki has been relegated to a random once-a-week or off-menu exercise, with its fruity coconut libations periodically surfacing at places like Lower Greenville’s Rapscallion, East Dallas’ Lounge Here and The People’s Last Stand in Mockingbird Station.

4 Kahunas, Arlington
Bowden is a long-time practitioner of the tiki craft, including drinks like Don the Beachcomber’s classic 1930s cocktail, the Missionary’s Downfall.

Now, in a budding commercial complex behind a stretch of Division Street car dealerships in Arlington, 4 Kahunas – which marked its grand opening on Sunday – has planted its tiki flag, with a modest but lovingly appointed space with a half-dozen or so stools at the bar, a couple of high-tops and several large booths.

“I’ve had more people ask for Singapore Slings here in Arlington than I ever did in Dallas,” Bowden says – and the tiki classic isn’t even on the menu. “I had no idea there was so much interest in the Mid Cities.”

Among the drink’s fans is Marc Davis, a Hawaiian-born Filipino/Pacific-Islander who runs a local food truck called Smoke and Pickle. Having stumbled onto 4 Kahunas while seeking a parking spot at Arlington’s 4thof July celebration, he was suddenly gripped by memories of his island upbringing and his dad’s love for Singapore Slings and Marlboros. “I like the low-key vibe,” he says.

Tiki’s laid-back Polynesian flavor flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, with Trader Vic’s and its Zombies and Mai Tais leading the way. Though the trend would fizzle within a few decades, the ongoing re-emergence of craft cocktails revived interest in its tropical tipples, with places like Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco and PKNY in New York among the first to resuscitate its rummy riches.

Several years ago, on a visit to Vegas,4 Kahunas co-owners J.P. Hunter and Chris Powell visited the venerable Frankie’s Tiki Room, and it was enough to revive Hunter’s California childhood memories – the L.A. beaches, the plastic monkey cocktail garnishes his mom would give him off her drinks.

Hunter, a University of Texas-Arlington grad nearing retirement in the construction business in Houston, was already eyeing a third act. Why not do something he really enjoyed? He and Powell recruited two other college friends as investors, their four caricatured faces now represented by large carved wooden tiki heads behind the bar.

“Our only missing link was a bar manager,” Hunter says. “And lo and behold, there’s Brad.”

tiki
The bar teems with tiki touches like island art pieces and mermaid bag hooks, fully embracing the culture’s Polynesian vibe.

Bowden, already spinning tiki classics and variations at Lounge Here in East Dallas, was more than ready to crank out Painkillers and Headhunters (as well as my personal tiki favorite, the flaming-lime-boat-topped Jet Pilot).  With Bowden on board, 4 Kahunas quietly opened on June 9, but it wasn’t long before word spread among fanatical tikiphiles, never mind the out-of-the-way location.

“We’ve already had people coming in from Chicago, Atlanta, Florida,” Hunter says.

It’s a decidedly unchain-y place in a bar-and-grill-leaning city that Hunter says finally has greater ambitions – and affordable Arlington represented a chance to be part of a scene that’s just starting to grow.  Says Hunter: “The train is just leaving the station.”

Fight triple-digit temps with these 5 Dallas cocktails

Hey, guys! It’s more than a hundred degrees outside. And with triple-digit temps looming the rest of the week, we’re officially in the thick of the summer, the part where even the diehards who insist they love North Texas summers crave cold showers, whip out their heat shields and seek shelter from that infernal orb in the sky.
Chances are they, like the rest of us, yearn for brisk and brawny adult beverages, and lucky for everyone involved, the bartenders of Dallas-Fort Worth have got this need covered. From cool afternoon refreshers to evening energizers, here are six DFW cocktails to get you through the rest of the sweltering season.
Zatar
Zatar’s Cardamom Limeade: Like Sonic happy hour for grown-ups.
CARDAMOM LIMEADE, Zatar, Deep Ellum
Zatar’s Cardamom Limeade is a simple and perfect antidote to a stiflingly hot afternoon, and if it were any more friendly you might get suspicious.
A blend of gin, lime, soda and cardamom bitters, it’s a no-fuss cooler with exotic flavor and I would gladly drink these well into a summer night were it not for the fact that there’s so many other great drinks out there.
Zach Smiegel, Billy Can Can, Victory Park
Billy Can Can’s Card Shark gives the Queen’s Park Swizzle the glass-booted deep freeze.

CARD SHARK, Billy Can Can, Victory Park

When it’s this hot, one word comes to mind: Slushie. My friends, Billy Can Can will hook you up. The mythical journey of this mysterious man of the West is chronicled in the cocktail lineup at this newly opened establishment in Victory Park, and the Card Shark sits near the end of that trail. A frozen variation of the classic Queen’s Park Swizzle — a Trinidadian mix of rum, lime, sugar, mint and bitters — it’s served up in a glass boot, so despite the drink’s name, the only thing you’ll need to worry about with this Card Shark is tipping it over.
Jesse Powell, Parliament
Jesse Powell’s boozy play on the classic Indian refresher will have you screaming, “Lassie, come home!”

MANGO LASSIE, Parliament, Uptown

Parliament’s Jesse Powell was introduced to the traditional Indian mango milkshake during a recent visit to Pub Royale, an Anglo-Indian style tavern in Chicago.
Savoring its mix of yogurt, mango, milk and sugar, he naturally wondered — as he often does, when it comes to these things —  how he could translate its pleasures into a cocktail. He structured its viscous, sour-sweet depths on a dark rum foundation, garnishing the Creamsicle-orange drink with cool mint and a clever dash of Mexican tajin, the chili powder that often graces that country’s mango street snacks. Complete with crushed ice, it’s one of the tastiest summer cocktails you’ll ever have.
Christian Rodriguez, ABV Lounge
Her Name is Hazel, but you can call her summer relief.
HER NAME IS HAZEL, ABV Lounge, Lower Greenville
The Pimm’s Cup is the seasonal warm-weather classic, and ABV Lounge’s Christian Rodriguez has added ginger and spice and everything nice, by which I mean gin.
For the summer, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, cucumber and lemon have welcomed saucy Allspice Dram,  the bite of ginger syrup and Aviation gin over to their house and hey, it’s everybody into the pool.
Henry Mendoza, The People's Last Stand
Henry Mendoza’s peppery nod to “Coco” gives summer flavors a smoky boost.

GRITO!, The People’s Last Stand, Mockingbird Station

Finish your night with this spicy number, one that might have you aay-yai-yai-ing like a joyful mariachi — the sound of which the drink’s name recalls.
The first of several concoctions Henry Mendoza of The People’s Last Stand has devised in tribute to Pixar’s Coco, it’s a cool but fiery mix of smoky mezcal, peppercorn syrup, agave, sage and summery bitters. The pachanga-in-your-mouth mix of pepper and citrus/chamomile-heavy “Boston Bittahs” is what makes this one shine. Bring on the sequel!

Network Bar: At Trinity Groves, a place for both mixing and mixology

Phil Romano
Network Bar, the members-only bar for career-minded professionals at Trinity Groves.

 

The idea behind Dallas’ Network Bar is simple. It’s a craft-cocktail bar where you network. The members-only concept from Phil Romano and Stuart Fitts, which targets career-minded professionals, opens Monday at Trinity Groves.

Granted, there are networking happy hours you could attend for free, so why would you shell out $500 to $1,000 to become a member of Network Bar?

Here are five possible reasons.

James Slater, Phil Romano
All network and no play makes Jack a dull boy

1.Because of the networking, of course.

Yes, you could do your networking in a place meant for drinking. But here, you can do your drinking in a place meant for networking. According to its website, Network Bar “takes networking and social interaction to another level.”

Members must be recommended by other members and have their applications approved by a committee; those sought are described as “eager, ever curious, always-on-the-hunt individuals (who) thrive on new ideas and problem solving…. They must have a purpose.” In other words, not  your garden-variety professionals!

Membership is $500 for those 30 and younger. If you’re older than that, it’s $1,000. As of Friday, membership was up to 217, said the bar’s Stayci Runnels.

Not a member? You can still get in as a member’s guest or, like at your gym, tour the place under the watchful eye of a membership team representative.

James Slater, Phil Romano
A meeting spot for purposeful professionals and headhunters alike.

2. Because there’s an app for that.

Yes, this club comes with its own mobile app. Once inside the club, members can then peer into the app to see who else is checked in – and then reach out to make connections and exchange digital business cards. Networking!

James Slater, Phil Romano
A mobile app allows members to see who else has checked in to the bar.

3. Because of the atmosphere and membership benefits.

Check out those handsome leather chairs. Those brawny barstools, that stylish wood paneling and dim lighting. This place is elegant AF.  Cool photographs of wild animals, in soft sepia and stately black and white, gaze at you from the walls, along with a big bison head. Is this not a place you want to freely roam? It’s like you’re in Wayne Manor.

In addition to the expansive old-lodge-y setting, there’s a private meeting room. Otherwise, classy red drapes can be drawn to make public seating clusters more secluded. And the website promises activities such as wine tastings, a lecture/workshop series and fireside chats.

James Slater, Network Bar
James Slater’s Mystic Shrine is a coterie of pisco, blackberry liqueur, lemon, vanilla and egg white. (Photo by Devin McCullough)

4. Because of the cocktails.

The bar’s drink menu features original cocktails from James Slater, described on Network Bar’s website as “one of the best mixologists in the world.” Lofty praise, indeed, but Slater is indeed no slouch, having previously helmed bars at Knife, Spoon, Oak, Quill and most recently, Idle Rye. (He also created two of my favorite cocktails of 2014.) “This place is different than any place I’ve ever worked,” Slater says; his drink menu will feature 15 cocktails priced from $13-$15, including a frozen rose cocktail and half-dozen barrel-aged ones.

“I’m putting my heart and soul into it,” Slater says.

You may also catch a glimpse of a curious vessel resembling a small silver chalice. What is that, you might (rightfully) wonder? The answer may or may not be the most lavish cocktail in Texas, an off-menu, super-premium concoction featuring a high-end tequila and a dusting of gold flakes.

Trinity Groves, James Slater
Network Bar’s barrel-aged cocktail program. (Photo by Devin McCullough)

5. Because of the brain food.

“The Network Bar is committed to nourishing your network as well as your brain,” the website says. That means food and drinks that the club declares will amp up your memory, focus and productivity – think green smoothies, lean proteins and cold-pressed juices. And then think some more.

But really, Network Bar is about rubbing shoulders in a setting designed for that purpose. “You can come in here and talk ideas, make connections, whatever,” says general manager Josh Laudan. “It’s like LinkedIn, but with cocktails. It’s a very unique concept as far as this industry goes.”

James Slater, Trinity Groves
Photo by Devin McCullough

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Dallas’ cocktail ‘godfather’ takes leave to help ailing dad, hands bar reins to tiki tandem

Industry Alley
Industry Alley owner Charlie Papaceno.

Visit Industry Alley these days and you might notice a couple of new faces roaming the bar: Marty Reyes and his wife Jen, who goes by the catchy moniker Jen Ann Tonic.

Dallas cocktails
The laid-back Industry Alley reflects Papaceno’s easygoing personality and is an industry favorite.

Known around town for their occasional “Swizzle Luau Lounge” pop-ups, the jaunty tikiphiles and bar-culture enthusiasts have taken up temporary residence in the Cedars neighborhood watering hole. They’re filling in for owner Charlie Papaceno, elder statesman of the Dallas cocktail scene, who’s taking a two-month sabbatical to be with his 91-year-old father in rural New York.

“My dad is having some health issues and I’m going up there to care for him,” said Papaceno, who opened the low-key, classics-minded cocktail bar after leaving the venerable Windmill Lounge in late 2014. “He can’t be alone if we want to keep him in his house.”

Industry Alley tiki
Noted tikiphile Marty Reyes, right, and bar manager Mike Steele play Skipper and Gilligan at an Industry Alley tiki party in June.

While he’s gone, Papaceno is leaving his bar in the hands of the Reyes tiki tandem and bar manager Mike Steele.

The Reyeses say they’re humbled by the chance to oversee a place helping to infuse new life into the area and don’t plan to alter the laid-back, jukebox-and-pool-table feel that’s made it a bar-industry favorite. However, an actual kitchen is on the way along with a seasonal drink lineup, and an off-menu tiki selection may find its way into existence for those who carry the torch.

Papaceno hit the road Tuesday on his way to Warwick, the town where he grew up, and says he’ll be with his ailing dad through the holidays, at least.

“It’ll be nice to spend the last days of his life with him,” he said. “There’s been too many years apart for too many fathers and sons.”

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With dedicated bars, mezcal’s missionaries hope to convert Dallas tastes

Dallas mezcaleria
Spreading the gospel: A trio of Oak Cliff friends are looking to share the love.

First came the bottles of Del Maguey, creeping onto the back shelves of select Dallas cocktail bars at the whims of barkeeps already touched by mezcal’s pentecostal fire. Even so, the agave-based spirit was shared straight – as some believe it should always be – and then only with the equally enthralled or the merely curious, offering a smoky hint of what was to come.

Then came the cocktails, in which mezcal was first relegated to a bit role, a distant sidekick to tequila, before gradually being paraded front and center to put its smokiness on full display. More recently, the Mexican spirit has been gauging its appeal among Big D imbibers in a growing series of pop-up-style events around town, but the question remains: Is Dallas ready for a full-fledged mezcal-driven bar?

A trio of Oak Cliff friends think so – and the three hope their passion for mezcal will turn other Dallas drinkers on to a spirit that has come a long way since the days it was known as “that bottle with the worm in it.”

Las Almas Rotas
Bar manager Daniel Ferrin making a round of cocktails at a soft opening event at Las Almas Rotas.

Las Almas Rotas, the project of pals Taylor Samuels, Shad Kvetko and Leigh Kvetko, hopes to open this weekend on Parry Avenue, across from Fair Park. The mezcal-focused bar represents the logical and welcome next chapter for a concept that began first as a group of friends meeting for periodic mezcal tastings before becoming an underground tasting room (for those in-the-know) on Davis Street. There, the three would expound on mezcal’s virtues opposite a wall on which was scrawled “Tequila to wake the living. Mezcal to wake the dead.”

When the three shuttered that rustic hideaway, they set their sights on a licensed operation where they could share the fervor they’d built while not just tasting but learning about the spirit — even making several visits to Oaxaca, where the vast majority of mezcal is produced, much of it in small, family-run palenques that have been doing so for generations.

Las Almas Rotas
How it all began — with informal tastings like this one at the Kvetkos’ Oak Cliff home. Clockwise from top, Taylor Samuels, Shad Kvetko and Leigh Kvetko.

“We’re hoping the space will be interesting enough to engage people to come in,” says Samuels, whose pedigree is strong as a member of the family that launched Maker’s Mark. “Hopefully it will encourage people to reach beyond their normal habits.”

Leigh Kvetko
An image of a tobala-variety agave plant, the work of Leigh Kvetko, graces the door at Las Almas Rotas.

Mezcal, like tequila, is made from the agave plant – but while tequila is limited to the blue agave variety, mezcal is a spirit made from any agave variety (thus making tequila technically a mezcal) and so has a broader taste profile.

“There’s an immense amount of genetic diversity,” panelist Ivan Suldana, author of “The Anatomy of Mezcal,” told an audience at 2015’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. “We’re talking about the largest genetic diversity we can get from a spirit.”

Which is one reason Samuels chose to pursue a Mexican spirit rather than the pride of his Kentucky family. “Mezcal to me is more interesting than bourbon because every batch is different,” he says.

Mezcal’s production process also differs from tequila, with the hearts of the agave smoked in ovens rather than baked, giving the spirit its distinctive smoky flavor. Agave has an almost mythical status in Oaxaca, and those turned on to mezcal’s distinctive flavors remember their conversion.

Mezcal Cartel
A typical table spread at one of the so-called “Mezcal Cartel’s at-home tastings.

For Samuels, that moment came at Austin’s Bar Ilegal, a tiny, dark mezcaleria where patrons were encouraged to sip samples from traditional copas. “That was my first experience,” said Samuels, who’s been tending bar at Oak Cliff’s Bar Belmont throughout the last year. “I didn’t really understand until I was in that room. Then Shad and I started doing the dinners and it kept getting larger and we thought, ‘We need a good room to drink mezcal in.’ That led to this.”

Las Almas Rotas – “the broken souls” – will have such a room, lurking behind a main area focused on cocktails and Mexican small plates. There you’ll find more obscure mezcals and even Paranubes, a fantastic Oaxacan agricole rum. “It’s kind of an homage to our speakeasy,” Samuels says. “Just straight spirits and Topo Chico.”

Mauricio Garriegos and Daniel Zapata
Bartenders Garriegos and Zapata keeping it real at Santos y Pecadores, the twice-weekly mezcal pop-up at Uptown’s Bowen House.

Such a room already exists in Dallas, in the back area of Uptown’s Bowen House, where bartenders Daniel Zapata and Mauricio Garriegos operate Santos y Pecadores (“saints and sinners”) on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The two pour strictly agave spirits in a small space accented with Christian paraphernalia, luchador masks and even a figurine of a revered, Robin-Hood-like narco.

Santos y Pecadores, too, is an extension of a previous effort, a series of mezcal pop-ups previously conducted with fellow bartenders Hector Zavala and Luis Sifuentes.

“We want people to get in love with mezcal,” says Garriegos, who also works at Palapas on Lower Greenville. That is the true Mexico, he says; not tequila. “It’s, like, with Mexican food. People think they’re eating real Mexican food but it’s actually Tex-Mex.”

Las Almas Rotas will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, with church-pew seating, contemporary Mexican rustic decor and two-inch-thick pecan tables from the original speakeasy. The image of an agave plant that graces the front door was done by Leigh Kvetko, a graphic designer.

Mezcal Cartel
Informal dinner-table gatherings eventually led to this now-closed underground tasting room on Davis Street.

Husband Shad is an antiques collector and dealer, and the Kvetkos hosted many of the original gatherings of the so-called “Mezcal Cartel,” of which I was fortunate enough to be a part. What began as a group of mezcal-enthused friends sipping agave around a dinner table will now be a brick-and-mortar operation that they hope will inspire similar zeal in others.

“We basically created a room that we would want to drink in,” Shad Kvetko says.

For their mezcaleria’s actual opening date, keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements.

LAS ALMAS ROTAS, 3615 PARRY AVE, DALLAS.

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Nightcap on Elm Street: Five drinks you should have in Deep Ellum

Five bars with a stone’s throw of each other on Elm Street are winning at craft cocktails.

In the movies, Elm Street might be the stuff of nightmares, but in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, it’s become a cocktail drinker’s reverie. With a growing list of newcomers now riding alongside the unflappable Black Swan Saloon, this hopping stone’s-throw stretch between Good-Latimer and Malcolm X is a destination fit to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening while catching a show nearby.

Here are five drinks, at five different spots, that you could potentially have – or share! – while you’re at it.

Hide Dallas
If you like Pina Coladas, get yourself over to Armoury D.E. for a tangy translation.

PINA COLADA NO. 2 – at Armoury DE

Start at Armoury, because the place opens at 4. Share a duck-heart appetizer with your pal and pair it with the Pina Colada No. 2.  This tangy tiki tipple comes from barman Cody Yarbrough, who was browsing through 1895, the excellent olive oil/vinegar shop newly opened a couple blocks away on Main, when he discovered the store’s coconut balsamic. “I tried it and I was, like, we have to do something with this,” Yarbrough said. The PC#2 is the result, a mouthparty of Brazilian cachaca, lime, orgeat and soda, plus that delicious coconut balsamic, garnished with a flamed pineapple.

Deep Ellum
Hide’s Delight, perfect for your afternoon.

THE DELIGHT – at Hide

Head to Hide, the cocktail lab near Malcolm X where the bar peeps get all NASA on your cocktails, producing drinks that are more delicious than gimmicky. Spirits are “milk washed” and relieved of their harshness; citrus juices are clarified for a pure veneer; soda and tonic water are eschewed in favor of a lighter-handed carbonating device. And because it’s still early, you’ll want the aperitif-style Delight, a low-proof bittersweet ballet of Aperol and Cynar tamed with grapefruit and elderflower. The cocktail is whirled in a Perlini device for a delicate carbonation; the fizz curls up on the roof of your mouth like a cat settling onto a sunny windowsill.

Brick and Bones
You can take your time with Brick and Bones’ Slowpoke Rodriguez.

SLOWPOKE RODRIGUEZ – at Brick and Bones

By now you’re getting ravenous, and the duck hearts at Armoury barely sated your appetite. You want to some more grub before showtime, so look no further than across the street to Brick and Bones, which serves up some pretty fantastic fried chicken. The drinks at this joint all recall old cartoon characters, some more obscure than others. Try the Slowpoke Rodriguez, named for Speedy Gonzales’ acceleration-challenged cousin – a flavor fest of hibiscus-infused tequila with a sweet-tart mix of amaretto and blood orange liqueur and a splash of jalapeno syrup for spice. “It’s like a Margarita without the acid,” says bartender Dre Cantu.

Austin Gurley, High and Tight
Smoke gets in your ice: Austin Gurley’s Smokey Bandit.

SMOKEY BANDIT – at High and Tight

The show is over, and you and your concert ears are ready to start winding down. Head over to High and Tight, whose back entrance you’ll find in the parking lot adjoining Armoury – and have Austin Gurley’s hardy Smokey Bandit, in which cinnamon-spiced bourbon meets hickory-smoked Cynar 70, doubles down on the smoke with a bit of mezcal and goes deep with a power-boost of chocolate bitters and anise-y Pernod. The drink is garnished with a twinkle of star anise. “The idea was to be boozy and complex, but approachable,” Gurley says. Mr. Bandit, you may approach the bench.

Gabe Sanchez, Black Swan
Pineapple rum: One of those things you wanted but didn’t know you wanted.

PINEAPPLE RUM OLD FASHIONED – at Black Swan

Finally, it’s time for, you guessed it…. your nightcap on Elm Street. Pay a visit to Deep Ellum’s craft-cocktail old-timer, the Black Swan Saloon, just a door to the west. Inside this discreet dive-bar-style hideout, proprietor Gabe Sanchez’s Pineapple Rum Old Fashioned is a tropical tri-rum-virate, with Plantation’s aged pineapple rum the star of the show. While the idea of pineapple rum might sound contrived, it’s actually got centuries-old roots, as cocktail historian David Wondrich told the New York Times: “It was a thing distillers used to do. It was done in the island. They’d soak pineapple in the barrel; it gave the rum a sweetness and richness. It was not wildly popular, but you’d see it.” Now you can, too, with Sanchez’s elegant drink a fitting sign-off before your ride home.