We all have our standard drinks – rum and coke, vodka and soda, margaritas. No matter what you call “the usual,” sometimes it’s good to break from the norm. Looking for something new? Belly up to one of these bars and tell the bartender to give you his best. We promise you won’t be sorry!
Hours: Mon-Sat 5 pm – 12 am
This Knox-Henderson hangout frequently tops the list for best cocktail bar in the city, and for good reason. Their seasonal, fresh ingredient-inspired cocktails incorporate delicious ingredients like house-made simple syrup, egg whites and fresh thyme. Not enough for you? There’s even a cocktail that’s made from red bell pepper. (Hey, it’s like a salad. Almost.)
If you can’t make a choice from their standard cocktail offerings (or awesome draft beer selection), ask to mix-and-match from the menu, or sit back and be surprised by these expert mixologists.
If you’re ordering off the menu: we recommend the Pepper Smash, a gin drink made with red bell pepper, mint and simple syrup.
Black Swan Saloon
Hours: Mon 9 am – 5 pm / Wed-Sun 7 pm – 2 am
Tucked away in Deep Ellum, behind a signless door, lies this cathedral of cocktails. Gabe, the bartender, owner and mixed drink wish granter, makes a variety of house-infused liquors, including pineapple, watermelon or blueberry vodkas. In addition, he whips up drinks with balsamic vinegar, strawberry preserves and serves a very mysterious show concoction – Jameson with a pickle back.
Your best bet is to pick from the infusions of the day and ask for a concoction based on that. Buyer beware – drinks go down easy here, but they hit you hard later!
For your first drink of the evening: With summer coming, watermelon vodka mixed with fresh watermelon puree and soda is a good call – a drink that cools you down and (dangerously) tastes nothing like liquor.
Hours: Mon-Sun 4 pm – 2 am
According to Windmill Lounge’s website, they offer “classic cocktails and luscious libations” – and there’s really no better way to say it. Charlie and company mixes up your classic drinks like the Moscow Mule and Dark and Stormy and cocktails inspired by a 300-page bartending guide (don’t believe us? Ask for something totally weird) in this New York-themed lounge.
If you’re not sure what to get, give your bartender your preferred liquor and some kind of flavor (ginger, citrus, sweet – take your pick!) and sit back and be amazed. The cocktails will help fortify you for Windmill’s regular karaoke nights, because, really, who doesn’t love belting out “Don’t Stop Believin’” after a couple of Sazeracs?
For an even better experience: bring quarters for the jukebox!
Whether you choose a classic off the menu or a bartender’s inspired special drink, taking a risk with a cocktail can make a happy hour happier and a great night even more memorable. And who knows – you might even find a new drink to call your “usual!”
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.