Cocktail wizard Michael Martensen's newest venture Smyth quietly opened a couple weeks ago on Travis Street, occupying part of the space that formerly housed Trece. (The rest of the space of course belongs to The Establishment, which is currently under construction.) No sign and an inconspicuously unmarked door can make it difficult to find even for the most intrepid of drinkers, but true cocktail aficionados will find hunting down Smyth a challenge worth taking on.
Once the proper entrance has been located (hint: it's not the big wooden doors), a long twisting hallway decked out in black-and-white graphic print builds anticipation, then spits you out into a dimly lit space adorned with cushy booths and low-slung vintage furniture. As many have noted, Smyth is intended to be reservations-only, but for now, walk-ins are generally welcomed, as long as there's room — four-deep lines at the bar will never happen here, as Martensen intends to keep the crowd small and intimate.
There's no cocktail menu at Smyth; rather, one of the barkeeps will bring you a liquid amuse, then ask your drink preferences and shake up something custom. Drinks are served in assorted vintage (or vintage-looking) glassware, with whatever sort of ice best suits the beverage — perhaps a tall rectangular prism in a highball glass.
The extremely dim lighting makes it next to impossible to take any photos, making it an ideal spot for an illicit rendezvous or a low-key first date. Consider that an asset — for just an hour or two, lay off the iPhone flash photography and Facebook check-ins and enjoy the classy, understated vibe carefully curated by Martensen and crew.