First-Take Bar Review: Tate’s Craft Cocktails

Tate's bartender makes a "Quila Smash," right. (photography by Jason Acton)

The Concept: Another place for bartenders to have love affairs with their carefully crafted cocktails. Classics inspire the menu. (A gimlet, the Aviation, and a “Beautiful Cigar Girl” grace the drink lineup.)

Who’s There: What appeared to be young business professionals (early 30s) packed the place to let loose on the bar’s second night of business (last Thursday). It was a relief to rub elbows with the grownup versions of the typical McKinney Avenue weekend crowd. Surprisingly, even though the mixologist’s concoctions were the obvious choice when ordering, we saw the usual suspects lined the bar. (Red wine, vodka soda, etc.) But once one person ordered something fancy, it spurred his neighbors to make more inspired selections.

When You Enter, Make a Beeline For: The big table by the door, if you’re bringing a crowd, or a seat at the bar. When specialty cocktails are the name of the game, always buddy up with a bartender. The space is small (like, Nonna small) so be prepared to stand.

Don’t Miss: Sampling the cocktails. I ordered “something-fruity-with-champagne-but-not-too-sweet” and got a Southern Belle, which isn’t on the menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the champagne, bitters, vodka, and apricot combo. My drinking partner mentioned he liked whiskey and got a Tate’s Sazerac with cognac, rye, agave nectar, bitters, and absinthe. I liked watching the barman light it on fire first, but my friend was disappointed by the “girly” taste. We were both happy with the Blackbird Julep with Chambord, citron vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a decorative pile of berries on top. It tasted like fresh fruit and sugar toned down by the fresh lemon. Drinks are made on the spot, and the bartenders are careful but fairly quick. (Talking to you, Cedars Social.)

What They’re Wearing: The customers matched the wait staff, in stylish business casual with loosened ties, sans jackets. You could get away with anything, but I’d stick to jeans and blouses for ladies and jeans and sweaters or button-downs for guys.

Cocktails are carefully crafted, but you won't be waiting long. (photography by Jason Acton)

When the Crowd Arrives: It was hoppin’ at 11 pm. The hostess danced by the doorway, large groups were laughing and ordering Tate’s versions of Irish car bombs, and the bar was full. Be patient. A spot for you will open up.

What You’ll Hear: The jams of choice were rap and hip-hop.

Overheard: “This is my jam!” as our neighbor threw his fists up to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa.”

Bottom Line: I felt right at home at the cozy wood bar, romantically lit by candlelight. I’ll be back with a group for a table, another Blackbird Julep, and taste of their small plate menu served before 10 pm. (caramel corn and peanuts with chili spices, jalapeno-spiced two-step meatballs, and mini chili cheese dogs are calling my name.)

Check out our Party Pics gallery from Tate’s.