I’ve been to Dallas, Texas a few times and if there is one thing I’ve learned about the city, it’s that it is a Mecca for food and drink. It seems that every restaurant, diner and bar has something delicious to offer, be it fried, grilled or mixed in a shaker. When I decided to dedicate a post to some of Dallas’ best spots for all things mixology, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Thanks to some locals I was able to narrow my search down and have a heck of a night out.
For the sake of time (and my liver) I kept my cocktail tour in Deep Ellum, a neighborhood just outside the downtown in East Dallas. Deep Ellum is known for its arts and entertainment and is full of great restaurants, music venues and bars. The following restaurant, bar and barbershop were the standouts in what is already an awesome neighborhood filled with great cocktails.
Filament is a relatively new restaurant in Deep Ellum (opened this past December) and has quickly become a popular dinner stop. The warehouse structure of the building’s exposed brick and wooden beams still manages to be inviting and intimate. The small plates and rich flavors encourage sharing amongst friends. Even the cocktail menu has a shared Bottled Sazerac that serves two-three people. However even the single serving cocktails are so good you’ll want a taste of every drink at the table.
It’s always bittersweet when your first drink of the night ends up being one of the best. The Sloe and Low is a simple combination of sloe gin, amber gingembre and blood orange. The herbal quality of the sloe gin compliments the kick of the ginger and the sweetness of blood orange to make a simple balanced flavor that pair with anything off the menu.
I have always gravitated towards cocktails that embrace a boozy taste and I think that’s why Filament’s Brooklyn’s Finest blew me away. This cocktail is once again a lesson in simplicity in its blend of rye, cognac, cardamaro (North America’s only wine based amaro) and velvet falernum. Brooklyn’s finest sits on the palate like a warm blanket, perfect for after dinner.
Black Swan is easy to miss even if you are looking for it, let alone if you happen to be walking by. Its tinted windows and lack of a sign put Black Swan right between a bar and a speakeasy. When walking in there is no mistaking what they are about. No tables, no chairs, no menu, just a bar and some stools. If you’re there, you are there for the surgically precise mixology.
When I approached the bar I was immediately asked: “What booze do you like?’ I replied with bourbon. The bartender’s follow up question was: “What flavors do you like?” I settled on ginger and pear. The bartender disappeared and quickly came back and set a drink in front of me, with no name, no explanation, just the expectation that I would enjoy it. One sip and that expectation was met.
It’s clear that the team at Black Swan take their craft seriously. The creativity and care that goes into each drink that crosses the wood is enough to elevate a night out to the next level.
It’s tricky to highlight nameless drinks that are made to order but this will at least give an idea of the clever way each drink is crafted and the type of drinks you can expect when you go visit Black Swan. The first drink I had was a combination of pear and ginger infused bourbon, Gran Classico and sweet vermouth. The mellow pear, ginger kick and herbal Classico worked to create complex flavours that changed with every sip.
By far the best drink I had at Black Swan was composed of Vito mescal, yellow Chartreuse, Averna Amaro, szechuan pepper tincture and seasalt. A true Texan cocktail tasting of smoke, spice and salt.
High & Tight
When I arrived at High & Tight as our last stop of the night, I wished with every fiber of my being we had gone there first. I would have loved to have gotten a haircut at the barbershop you are required to go through in order to get to the bar half of the establishment. What at face value seems like a novelty gives High & Tight a unique vibe that suits the even more unique drinks they offer. Their menu offers the utility of prohibition era drinks with modern aesthetics and flavors. Live music, haircuts and cocktails, High & Tight really has it all.
The Doc is an amazing cocktail that blends Anchor Old Tom Gin, Pisco Porton, grapefruit, orgeat, lime, Peychauds bitters and an edible flower to garnish. The flavor is the perfect balance of sweet, sour and bitter.
While the Doc was great the star of High & Tight’s menu must be The Great Gatsby. Aviation Gin, pamplemousse rose, orange, lemon, mist of orange blossom water and another flower garnish go into making this sweet, floral drink.
Filament, Black Swan, and High & Tight only begin to scratch the surface of what Deep Ellum has to offer, let alone all of Dallas. Deep Ellum offers a diverse range of restaurants, bars, clubs and venues that will appeal to any drink, so cheers to you Deep Ellum.
Special thanks to Christine and David Wright, Ginger Becker, and Christopher and Erin Lenzini.
Photos courtesy of Erin Lenzini (www.erinlenzini.com) Instagram: @erinlenzini