The Joule Hotel
1530 Main St.
The Skinny: The new kid on the hotel bar scene is not a child at all but, rather, a dark, seductive, highly styled sophisticate with whom everyone is clamoring to play. Sound strong? You haven’t seen PM, the brainchild of event designer Todd Fiscus’ “todd too” development team. Fiscus and crew collaborated with candlemaker and “modern alchemist” Douglas Little on the lounge, and from the rock candy-looking geodes under the staircase to the Miss Havisham-esque chandeliers to the red velvet chairs and the small stage, it’s Marilyn Manson meets Moulin Rouge. Not one detail has been overlooked. The waitresses wear dresses from local designer Abi Ferrin, and Little even created a signature scent for the lounge. Who’s There: Young, stylish A-listers; handsome athletes with entourages; fiftysomething art collectors; and dapper gay men. What to Drink: PM’s signature drink: Dom Pérignon served on calligraphied and perfumed handkerchiefs, with scorched caramel skulls. Overheard: “Where can I get some pasties like that? Actually, where can you get some?” When to Go: After a black-tie event or for a sexy date.
901 Fort Worth Ave.
The Skinny: One of the most beloved hotel bars in the city, BarBelmont is so well-liked because it doesn’t feel like a hotel bar. Rather, it feels like the mid-century modern hotel was sucked straight out of Los Angeles and plunked down on a hill in Oak Cliff. There’s no doubt that the view is one of the best things about this bar. Downtown Dallas has never looked so lovely at night. But the bar patrons are another draw. It’s tough to find a more friendly, laid-back group of people, and with special events happening several nights of the week (live music, movies, art exhibits), there’s always a reason to check it out. The only drawback: early closing times are a buzz kill. Who’s There: Tattooed guys in cutoff t-shirts and jeans, thirtysomething girls with bright red hair and piercings, Oak Cliff dwellers on date night. What to Drink: The ultra-strong Belmontini, with Ketel One Citroen, Grand Marnier, pomegranate juice, and Champagne. Overheard: “And then he said his favorite musician was Jack Johnson, and I was like—goodbye!” When to Go: Tuesday nights, when Belmontinis are half price, or Thursday, for live music outside.
5300 E. Mockingbird Ln.
The Skinny: If old-school bars feel too, well, old school, head to Central 214’s bar in the Hotel Palomar. It’s contemporary and sleek, with soaring ceilings, orange backlight, and a mod patio complete with a waterfall and tucked-away cabanas. Despite the bar’s proximity to SMU, the crowd skews more mature, especially during the week. When the weather is nice, movies are shown on the patio on Sunday nights. Who’s There: Tourists in jeans drinking bottles of Fat Tire, fortysomething couples wrapped up in conversation, laid-back scenesters having a girls’ night out. What to Drink: Skip the valet lines for Trader Vic’s around the corner and order a Mai Tai here. Same original recipe, less tiki. Overheard: “When we were in college, he was Rand. Now he’s Trip. I have no idea.” When to Go: When you’re hungry. Dinner at Central 214 still makes for a special evening, but it won’t break the bank (helloooo, Fearing’s).
|The Library Bar|
The Warwick Melrose Hotel
The Library Bar
3015 Oak Lawn Ave.
The Skinny: The beloved Library Bar got a redo earlier this year, but the differences are subtle, more of a Botox injection than a facelift. It remains an old-school classic, filled with bookcases (natch), candles on tables, lots of wood and leather, and a Yamaha baby grand in the corner. It’s comfortable and versatile—just as suited to a blind date as it is an intimate business meeting. Bonus: no television sets. Who’s There: Small groups of 40- and 50-year-olds, well-dressed businessmen, and couples swooning over the piano player’s rendition of “It Had to Be You.” What to Drink: While they have a few specialty drinks now, it just feels right to order a Glenfiddich neat. What to Eat: One of executive chef Jeff Moschetti’s creations, like the fig, prosciutto, and goat cheese flatbread. Overheard: “Dallas just feels so different to me than it did 10 years ago. Do you think that has something to do with the Vicodin?” When to Go: Drink specials abound every night. We like Wednesday nights, when five-spice calamari is free and house drinks are $5.
Living Room Bar
2440 Victory Park Ln.
The Skinny: The W’s Ghostbar can be a little too much of a production for an average night out, but the Living Room bar, located just off the entrance to the hotel, is much more accessible. It’s an interesting crowd. On a recent Saturday night, we spotted guys in Teva sandals and khaki shorts next to girls wearing the shortest, tightest dresses and the highest heels this side of Baby Dolls. The Living Room offers a nightclub vibe without the Ghostbar-type line, drinks are easy to come by, and the music is loud enough to keep things exciting, but not so loud that you can’t hear your neighbor. The plant-lined outdoor seating area is a more intimate option. Who’s There: Midwesterners in denim on vacation, twentysomethings in packs wearing next to nothing and sipping martinis, and jersey-clad sports fans drinking bottled beer after a game at the AAC. What to Drink: The State of Bliss martini, with Ketel One Citroen vodka, cucumber, and mint syrup. Overheard: “I’m pretty sure we don’t have a place like this back at home, do we?” When to Go: After a Mavericks game or Tuesday nights, for half-price apps and arm and hand massages from Bliss Spa.
2332 Leonard St.
The Skinny: Let’s just get this out of the way. The Dragonfly bar is cheesy. It’s over-the-top, it’s ridiculous, and we can all think of words to describe the clientele that aren’t flattering. But: Dragonfly is fun. First, there’s no better people-watching. Second, the heavy drapes, chandeliers, dark colors, and dim lighting all create a sexy boudoir feeling that is easy to get caught up in. So we say just go for it. Get your tarot cards read. Order a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Zatini. Seductively feed your crush (or your hubby) a handful of Hot Tamales from the bowl sitting on the bar. Pour your drink in a plastic cup and channel Pamela Anderson outside by the pool beneath the twinkling white lights. Show some skin. After all, what happens at ZaZa— Who’s There: Gaggles of Uptown girls, glammed-up out-of-towners, gelled-up thirtysomething guys on the prowl. What to Drink: A glass of Veuve or The Kiss, a martini with Bacardi Razz, lemon juice, and Chambord. Overheard: “How do you like your martini? Dirty, yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say!” When to Go: Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights. Also a must-hit for Sooner fans during TX/OU weekend (the owners are from Oklahoma City).
The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
The Mansion Bar
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd.
The Skinny: Elegance and refinement are the standard at the Mansion Bar, a place that exudes old-Texas money and everything that goes along with it—namely, beautiful women and expensive bottles of wine. Imagine your rich uncle’s den, complete with contemporary art, bookshelves, and the gorgeous (and low) original inlaid ceiling. Mixologist Michael Martensen and crew make the tonic water in-house, and they use fresh herbs from chef John Tesar’s garden to make drinks like the Peach Smash, Cool Cucumber, and the Blazing Turtle. One detail we love: there are no pour spouts on the liquor bottles, giving the bartenders the power to pour a drink. Who’s There: Gentlemen in suits with loosened ties, older ladies heavy with diamonds, thirtysomething socials after a function. What to Drink: Whatever Martensen is shaking. How about a cocktail called Dew Thyme, made with melon-infused gin and thyme? Overheard: “I told her to diversify, and trust me, she had no idea what I was talking about. She still looked hot, though.” When to Go: Thursday nights for happy hour. From 6 to 7, one night a week, drinks are half-price.
The Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa
2927 Maple Ave. 214-871-7111
The Skinny: Many locals were skeptical when the Stoneleigh got rid of the venerable Lion’s Den bar during the hotel’s $36 million renovation earlier this year, but naysayers have come around (for the most part) to the art deco-inspired Bolla Bar. A line of chandeliers twinkles over the comma-shaped bar, and guests lounge in red velvet banquettes or leather seats. The patio faces Maple Avenue, and it’s a great place to spend a breezy happy hour. Who’s There: Pet-toting locals (the hotel is very animal-friendly), gay and straight daters, bleached-blonde label-droppers, businessmen, and friendly out-of-towners. What to Drink: For something strong, try the Bolla Tini, one of chef David Bull’s signature cocktails, filled with vodka, dry vermouth, and blue cheese-stuffed olives. For something lighter, go with the Puccini: mandarin orange juice and Prosecco. Overheard: “I love chandeliers. They’re, like, so sophisticated.” When to Go: L’ora dell’aperitivo (“happy hour” in Italian). Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5 to 7:30.
The Rattlesnake Bar
2121 McKinney Ave.
The Skinny: Arguably the most popular hotel bar in Dallas (and possibly the country, given its nomination as one of the best from Condé Nast Traveler), the Rattlesnake Bar at the year-old Ritz is hot. It’s not just a name. The glowing bar features actual rattlesnake parts as well as a honey onyx backlight frame that casts a flattering glow on the faces gathered around it. The bar is often packed two deep, with crowds spilling out onto Western-inspired couches and into the gorgeous Live Oak bar outside. Chef Dean Fearing helped design the restaurant and bar, and he’s often spotted there kissing cheeks during the dinner rush. Who’s There: Twentysomethings in strapless dresses sipping Champagne, sixtysomethings in business suits checking out the twentysomethings, and young trust-fund guys with sunglasses on their heads. What to Drink: Dean’s Margarita on the rocks, Bud Light, Goose and soda—or an 1806 Pierre Ferrand Cognac for $1,000 an ounce. What to Eat: Lobster nachos, your sugar daddy’s earlobe. Overheard: “Did I say party? I meant paaar-taaay.” When to Go: After a black-tie event, with out-of-towners, or on a Friday or Saturday night.
|The Loft Bar|
NYLO Plano at Legacy
The Loft Bar
8201 Preston Rd., Plano
The Skinny: Open less than a year, the Loft Bar hasn’t yet shown up on everyone’s radar. But the modern-meets-Western interior, designed by Stephane Dupoux (nightlife designer behind New York’s Buddha Bar and Miami’s Nikki Beach), is worth a trip down the Tollway. Whimsical big-city bar touches like hay-filled Lucite tables, cowhide rugs, and exposed brick walls feel hipper than they sound. At night, the blazing horizontal fire pit beckons elbow-benders outside to a lawn filled with tables, chairs, and, yes, beds. Who’s There: Young, boozy businessmen; hip middle-aged suburbanites; and Sex and the City wannabes in wobbly heels. Where to Sit: One of the alfresco beds or the brown-and-white half-circle moon chairs that hang from the ceiling inside. What to Drink: Any sort of pretty martini. Try the Pama-Tini, with Pama liqueur, Smirnoff Citrus vodka, splash of cranberry juice, and sweet ‘n’ sour mix. Overheard: “The beds are the most popular spot on the weekends. You can get away with murder.” When to Go: If out-of-town businessmen are your thing, weekdays are best (they’re there in packs). Otherwise, on Saturday nights you’ll find Plano’s best-dressed pre-Martini Park crowd.