Let me tell you about a little place in Deep Ellum. A little place that doesn’t have a sign, and is one of the best hidden gems in the city. A little place that’s serving up some of the best darn little cocktails in this whole city.
Black Swan Saloon is run by a guy named Gabe. Gabe is a cocktail magician. To get to know Gabe is to get to know the best things about liquor, mixers and the final product, and to love Deep Ellum for what it is and what it can be. Gabe came to open Black Swan by way of Ghostbar Vegas and Ghostbar Dallas, and, yes, the bar was open before Natalie Portman even turned her first pirouette.
The atmosphere at Black Swan is very Deep Ellum – eclectic, chill and familiar. Hanging out on their back patio always results in meeting a few new friends, probably after bonding over a sports game shown on the outdoor mounted TV. Inside, there’s a Pacman game that serves as a table, and plenty of books that get funnier as the night goes on (People of Walmart, anyone?)
The Black Swan Saloon specializes in infused liquors, built from top shelf vodkas and bourbons mixed with seasonal fruits and spices. On a recent night, there was a choice among watermelon, blueberry, pineapple and strawberry vodkas and an apple and cinnamon bourbon. Feel free to ask for a cocktail by name, or simply order based on your tastes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Watermelon Smash – on one of my many visits to Black Swan, I saw Gabe use a hand blender to attack about 2 gallons of fresh watermelon puree. Since then, he’s upgraded his blending methods, but kept the drink the same. It mixes watermelon infused vodka with watermelon puree and a dash of soda, and it tastes like summer in a glass.
- Jameson with a pickle back – not a menu original, but something requested by one of the first reviewers to drop by the bar (genius!). It’s simple – a shot of Jameson with a pickle chaser, but one of the most delicious things you’ll ever taste. Just remember how delicious it was when you wake up the next morning with the headache of doom.
- Balsamic Berry – I don’t know about you, but until I tried this cocktail, I had never considered putting strawberry jam in a drink. But of course, mixology at its best incorporates the unexpected – in this case, Aviation Gin is mixed with fresh strawberries, jam, balsamic vinegar (trust me, it works), pepper and simple syrup. It’s worth the trip outside your comfort zone.
- Pineapple-spicy-still-to-be-named – my current love, this drink mixes pineapple infused vodka and soda with a dash of a habanero-vodka infusion for a kick of spice. It goes down easy, then hits you with a kick a few seconds later.
If you’re looking to try a new cocktail (or two), head to Black Swan Saloon – I give it my full endorsement. You’ll see it just to the left of La Grange on Elm St. Give Gabe a high five for me!
Alyssa is a nightlife blogger and local music aficionado currently residing in East Dallas. She writes for a local happy hour website and her personal blog, and can frequently be found tweeting about her favorite bars and bands.