Sweating Prohibition-Era Bullets At The Cedars Social

The glasses aren't the only thing that's sweating. Ball and Chain (left) and Belleview (right) cocktails at The Cedars Social.

In her June review of The Cedars Social, Nancy described house mixologist Michael Martensen as someone who, “has spent the last eight years redefining cocktails as a culinary art, and his thoughtful, exhaustive drink menu at The Cedars Social celebrates almost 100 years of drinking… ‘It’s a cocktail den. It’s all about imbibing. We don’t have olives or Red Bull, and we don’t make dirty martinis. We need people to get out of their comfort zone.’”

Given that breaking out of my comfort zone is my favorite hobby, I called some pals to meet me for a cocktails-only visit last Friday afternoon/evening. There, at the corner of Lamar and Belleview, we lucked into some threadbare velour chairs in the bar area, ordered some cheese, and settled in for the long haul.

jump to read how things went so very very wrong…

Of the Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, Re-Peal, The Usual Suspects, and Tribute Cocktails on the menu, we settled on the following: The Ball & Chain, Belleview, Moscow Mule, Ruby’s Kiss, and Ball & Chain sans spice. True to the promise, these Pre-Prohibition era drinks were fresh, spirited, and unusual, most notably the effervescent Moscow Mule, which borrowed its personality from a heady (and pleasant) dose of what appeared to be ginger ale.

But, what started as a loose, unscientific tasting became an exercise in misery. As the minutes wore on, the temperature climbed. We deduced that the setting sun coming in through the window was the problem, so when a table opened up in a shady corner we hopped over. No respite. As the minutes wore on, what was once pleasant became painful. It became clear that the room was just hot. We asked a passing server if the AC was down. No, she said, this is pretty normal.

That was at 6:45. By 7:30 my sleeveless summer frock and my friend’s polo shirt were soaked with sweat. One of our trio pulled a folding fan from her purse (brilliant), snapped it open, and began fanning herself and us in turns. When her wrist tired, we took turns fanning each other. The game of pass-the-fan stopped being novel around 8:o0, at which point we looked like we’d just come back from a run, and threw in the towel.

True to Martensen’s promise, I was well out of my comfort zone, just not in the way I had expected.

So, here are my questions:

A. Is the absence of air conditioning part of the prohibition-era milleu?

B. Is their unit just not beefy enough to cool the space?

C. Are they keeping the setting high to keep overhead low?

D. Can anyone else testify to this experience?

I loved the retro lounge feel of the room, enjoyed the drinks, and wanted to take our spunky waitress (and her fingernail stickers) home with me. But I have to admit, it will be a cold day in Dallas before I head down there again. Yes, I’ll ride that Moscow Mule again, but not until the fall.


  • cbs

    the last line is brilliant.

  • Epifanio

    I visted Amuse a few times and it was also always hot in the summer. Maybe not a well insulated building?

  • Stephan s

    I’ve been a few times, usually come in around 7, and havent noticed the heat. Actually I love the window and the sun coming down at that time, it’s quite beautiful. Heat does suck though

  • How’d you know to order the Ball & Chain without spice? That darn menu doesn’t mention anything about the seriously strong flavor of cloves that they add to that very summery-sounding drink. I was disappointed that I ordered a minty, strawberry spritzer thing, and ended up with something that tasted like pumpkin pie. Summer became Fall without warning.

  • Virgogirl

    My husband and I had the exact same experience there about two weeks ago. It was beyond miserable… The food is so delicious, the service is efficient and friendly, and the decor is appetizing, but the temperature is ridiculous, and we won’t be back until the temperatures are MUCH cooler. Such a shame; I would eat there much more often if I didn’t end up looking like a bedraggled sweaty beast after 15 minutes… Plus, it doesn’t inspire a desire for food at all, and even dripping-with-condensation cocktail glasses aren’t appealing…