Thursday, September 21, 2023 Sep 21, 2023
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Bar Review

Bar Review: Midnight Rambler

Is the downtown spot the most “Dallas” bar in Dallas?
By Tara Nieuwesteeg |

As my three friends and I sat in a booth at Midnight Rambler, a sultry cocktail lounge nestled in the basement of The Joule hotel, we debated whether this was the most “Dallas” bar we’d ever been to. It was Friday night, and the room was packed with gorgeous, well-dressed women. The menu is full of crafty cocktails with exotic ingredients, a few of which we had to look up. The concoctions, which are listed as either “sour” or “aromatic,” contain inspired blends of spices, zests, and herbs. Some of them use three or four different types of alcohol.

I selected the Improved Sherry Cocktail. My dark-haired lady friend picked the Hocus Pocus (sherry, tequila, cumin, and cacao). Her blond beau chose the Perfect Prescription, a “cascade of booze” (his words). My bearded companion liked the sound of the bourbon-based Soul Clap. Our young, tall waiter scurried off with our orders. 

As we waited, my friends speculated on the growing crowd of beautiful people behind us. There were men in jackets and waistcoats (and a few in Vans—the place isn’t too hoity-toity). Ladies in tall heels and short dresses darted past. I surveyed the decor: the ceilings are arched and speckled with orb-like lights. The bar is bright with mirrors behind high shelves. It somehow seemed familiar. 

Caviar Dreams: Midnight Rambler’s decor is inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and David Lynch’s Parisian lounge.

“It’s based on the bar in the movie The Shining,” co-owner Christy Pope told us. The rest of the space was inspired by a bar in Paris owned by director David Lynch. Dallas is the perfect place for a specialty cocktail bar, Pope said. “Austin’s too casual.” It’s true. A place like this seems to match that particular kind of glitz Dallas aspires to. A large piece of art on the wall features two canvases with nothing but the word “CAVIAR.”

Eventually our drinks found us. I loved my sherry concoction with its perfect hint of absinthe. My blond friend announced that the Perfect Prescription is like “a classy, delicious Long Island iced tea.” I asked my bearded companion about his Soul Clap. “It’s good,” he said, “but for $14, I want to like it more.” 

I offered to help him finish it. Soon, with no small thanks to the drinks, I was emboldened enough to infiltrate the party of pretty women behind us. They were tall and leggy, with smooth skin and perfect hair. Most of them were tightly ensconced and talking closely, but one stood apart, looking down at her phone. She wore a polka-dot frock and a little hat. I asked her what was going on. “It’s Hasmik’s birthday,” she explained, smiling at me. She pointed over at a tall brunette with striking blue eyes. 

“But why is everyone here so tall and pretty?” 

She looked puzzled for an instant. Then: “Oh! We’re models.” Once she realized she wasn’t getting rid of me, she acquainted me with the birthday girl. Hasmik was talking with an older ponytailed man whom she introduced as Trammell Crow. (I gave him my best yeah-I’m-totally-a-model-too smile.) 

After a moment, they were swept up into the crowd. I walked away, slid back into the booth with my friends, and suggested another round of (beautiful) drinks. Midnight Rambler is fun and relaxed, but we decided that with the fancy cocktails, the gaggle of models, and the uber-rich real estate scion—yep, most Dallas bar ever.