Swizzle is unabashedly kitsch. Enter through a bamboo-framed door into a room of tropic whimsy where woven lauhala wall paneling, rattan furniture, and works by local and national tiki artists abound. Couples sip rum potions from hollowed-out pineapples while, two tables over, somebody’s flaming drink sparks with every dash of cinnamon.
Jen Reyes moved from the Bay Area to Dallas in 2011, a year after tiki institution Trader Vic’s said farewell for good, and her first question was, “Where’s the tiki bar?” After waiting years for a tropical surrogate, Jen and her husband, Marty, opened one of their own last November on Lowest Greenville for fellow “tiki-starved” denizens.
The couple built a following over the last five years with a series of pop-ups. Now, with a home base, Swizzle fans old and new are transported through the multi-spirit libations for which the tiki genre is known. “I think nationally in the tiki scene we’ve become a name for Dallas, Texas,” Jen says.
Several cocktails nod to Ernest Gantt, the World War II vet from Texas who decamped to Hollywood and opened the prototypical tiki bar, Don’s Beachcomber, in 1933. Tiki’s origins are fraught, though. Irreverently borrowing from other cultures doesn’t always square in today’s era of awareness. So a part of Swizzle’s ethos involves donating to nonprofits such as the Jamaica-based Every Mikkle Foundation for children.
The primary thing the bar provides, though, is boozy bliss. Swizzle predictably has a wonderful slate of the titular drinks, which are sour-leaning elixirs vigorously stirred over icy pebbles with the bar tool of the same name. Rum, port wine, and brandy-like aguardiente are tempered by passion fruit and lime juice in the Pukiki Park swizzle. The Bitter Truth of a Mai Tai is the bar’s acerbic spin on one of the genre’s most famous cocktails. Meanwhile, the food menu—abridged for the time being—is a mix of Filipino snacks, like lumpia inspired by Jen’s family recipes, and Hawaiian comfort food (think Spam stir fry, loco moco, and kalua pork sliders on sweet rolls).
Swizzle is a slice of paradise, one that’s here for both a good time and a long time. “I just hope that Swizzle becomes that staple place, like Tiki-Ti is for L.A., and that we set the standard for that kind of bar here in Dallas,” Jen says. “I want to be here forever.”
In Your Cups
A few faves from the drink menu…
The Boo Loo boasts found kinds of rums (gold Puerto Rican, rich and dark from Jamaica) served in pineapple with its juices. This one’s for sharing.
Rum is married with spices, bitters, lime, and orange in the always-pleasing Nui Nui.
Missionary’s Downfall is another crowd-pleaser: It blends rum, peach brandy, lime, pineapple, and mint into a slushy sipper.
Pineapple, orange, and lemon make up the fruity backbone of the Bermuda Swizzle, with rum (of course!) and falernum, a Caribbean syrup which brings a gingery-spice sweetness.