The Chesterfield downtown just oozes old-school sexiness. The décor is early 20th century San Francisco or New Orleans, and you may never get through the entire drink list designed by bar man Eddie “Lucky” Campbell. This is the kind of establishment that’ll transport you to a place you only read about in books but desperately want to experience.
The bar here is the baby of Jason Kosmas, who is something of the godfather of mixology in Dallas. He’s had his hand in a couple of other bars on this list, including Bolsa and Neighborhood Services, and he used to work with Lucky Campbell. That pedigree alone should tell you what you’re going to get here. Couple that with a Highland Park Village location, and you’re on your way to a good buzz.
This South Lamar cocktail den is classy without being uppity and serves some serious cocktails courtesy of Michael Martensen. The overriding theme of the mixology renaissance that’s taken over Dallas is the emphasis on quality — with ingredients and preparation. It seems like a simple thing, but fresh fruit and mixers and perfect portions of liquor are the difference between a sloppy Jack and Coke and a mind-expanding Rio Star Rush (plantation rum, falernium, orgeat syrup, grapefruit juice and Angostura bitters).
The indoor-outdoor bar at this Oak Cliff restaurant is a respite from the rest of Dallas. Bolsa was one of the first farm-to-table digs in the city, and those fresh ingredients carry over into the drinks. A mind-boggling assortment of cocktails are mixed using fresh berries and vegetables, myriad liquors, ginger beer, sparkling wine — even egg whites. No matter which drink you choose, you won’t find it anywhere else.
Victor Tangos is a classy bar and lounge that’s quiet enough for dates but rowdy enough for a group. Here you’ll likely find the kind of people who keep up with the important things — fashion, music, trends — so if that isn’t your thing, then order the signature Victor Tango (fresh English cucumber, local mint, blanco tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and house-made simple syrup) and act like flip-flops and cords are the hottest fashion trends.
Neighborhood Services is known for its food, but if you’ve neglected the cocktail menu here, then you should head back to Lovers Lane straight away. There is a strong if limited list of cocktails, but the bourbon drinks are real winners. You will get a good meal at NHS, but, as mixologist Kyle Ford says, “A restaurant can’t be taken seriously anymore if its bar program is subpar.” Good thing for NHS, then.
The Windmill Lounge on Maple Avenue is a departure from the rest of the list in that it cares more about serving good drinks than it does about good décor. This is a dive bar, but the quality of the cocktails doesn’t suffer for it. How do you know it’s good? Well, Jason Kosmas says this is his go-to bar, and if he likes it, so should you. Although the other places on this list will earn you points with your date, Windmill gives you street cred. If your date doesn’t like it, well, then, grab him/her a cab and head back inside.