Practically every restaurant in town has so-called "craft cocktails" these days, but not all $12 drinks are created equally. For a carefully crafted and well-executed libation, these ten Dallas bars won't steer you wrong. From a beloved dive to a ritzy hotel bar — and everything in between — this list will serve as a handy reference next time someone utters that magical phrase, "Let's get a drink."Read More
Every Important Cocktail Bar in Dallas, Mapped
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Black Swan Saloon
Owner and bartender extraordinaire Gabe Sanchez must have a photographic memory, because he'll likely remember you — and your drink of choice — after your very first visit. There's no menu to speak of here; just relay your preferences and they'll whip up something insanely tasty. The house infusions here are very popular — particularly watermelon vodka and coffee bourbon — and so is the back patio, especially now that the weather is cooling off.
This new Cedars bar is a result of beloved round-spectacled bartender Charlie Papaceno splitting off from the equally legendary Windmill Lounge, which he owned and operated with his ex-wife Louise Owens. Expect the same fantastic cocktails — including a legendary Old-Fashioned — at incredibly reasonable prices, now with pool tables, pinball, and arcade games. There's no menu, but Charlie and his bartenders are well-versed in all the classics.
If you're a true cocktail nerd, The Joule's sexy subterranean lounge is as good as it gets. Presided over by drink wizards Chad Solomon and Christy Pope, the menu pushes the envelope with creations like a pho-inspired shot made with beef stock, punches for sharing, and housemade sodas in flavors like lemon myrtle and and grapefruit-hibiscus.
Eddie "Lucky" Campbell opened a place of his very own about a year ago, and Dallas's cocktail scene is all the better for it. Most bartenders will give you the evil eye if you ask for a labor-intensive Ramos Gin Fizz, but the hard-working fellows at Parliament pride themselves on making the best version in town. The rest of the menu reads like a work of literary art, with creations like the Jing, a $27 drink doctored up with deer antler extract (for virility, natch).
At first glance, Tate's may just seem like another face in the McKinney Ave. bar crowd, but look again: the tonic water's made in-house, as are all the syrups — and nary a bottle of Rose's lime juice in sight. Tate's does all the classics well, if you're in the mood for a Cuba Libre (with housemade cola, natch) or a gimlet; but there are plenty of original concoctions, too: Be sure to try the Malaysian Mule, spiked with kaffir lime and spicy Thai chili.
The Mansion Bar
Even if you can't afford a full-on meal at the hallowed Mansion on Turtle Creek, you should at least stop by the bar for some of the best damn cocktails in town (fairly priced at around $12 to $14). The swank surroundings complement the carefully crafted drinks (especially in the winter when you can cozy up by the fireplace). Recent favorites have included the Dr Pepper Old Fashioned; martini drinkers are in good hands here, with an array of garnishes from pickled fennel to black pepper goat cheese stuffed olives.
The People's Last Stand
Tucked up on the second level of Mockingbird Station — yes, the same shopping center where you'll find Twin Peaks and Urban Outfitters — is this gem of a laid-back cocktail lounge. The menu holds a veritable treasure trove for adventurous drinkers, from the Nirvana (mango-infused rum, pineapple, coconut water, and tiki bitters) to the Jhansi James made with pisco, St. Germain, jalapeno, and... curry? Trust that these guys won't steer you wrong.
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The Standard Pour
Brian McCullough manages the bar at this Uptown staple, where the menu is constantly being refreshed with seasonal creations; it's wisely divided up by spirit, making it easy to navigate whether you're in the mood for vodka (try the Vodka Daisy with Belvedere, yellow Chartreuse, and vanilla) or mezcal (go for the Smoke on the Water with housemade tepache, ginger, and Aperol). All the classics are perfectly executed here, too, from the Aviation to the Vieux Carre.
Perennial Henderson Ave. favorite Victor Tangos' cocktails are so unique, so tasty, that one had an entire restaurant named after it (Plano's now-defunct Pepper Smash). Whether your tastes run simple and sweet — try the Passionfruit Gimlet with fresh thyme — or a bit more adventurous, the bar at VT's will no doubt have something to please. Recent creations include the Rebel Yell, made with chamomile-infused bourbon, orgeat, coconut, lemon, vanilla, and Angostura bitters.
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Fact: Windmill Lounge was serving craft cocktails before craft cocktails were cool (in Dallas, anyway). This divey little wonder has killer — try the Aviation — and and a jukebox to match. If you're lucky, owner Louise Owens will make you her namesake drink, a tasty combo of vodka, OJ, strawberry nectar, ginger, and mint, with a little bubbly for good measure.
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