The Great Dallas Manhattan Search – Windmill Lounge

23 Mar

A Rye Manhattan from Windmill Lounge - Photo Credit: Brandon Hancock

Special Thanks to my fellow judge Colin McCartney.  I also appreciate our significant others Melissa and Stevie for coming along for the ride.

As promised before I left for SXSW, I was planning to take one for the collective team and drink my way across Dallas to find the best Manhattan in our fair city. Well a few weeks ago I started to do just that and conducted my first site visit to the Maple area haunt known as Windmill Lounge.

Before we get to the review, I will lay out the scoring system I came up with. Each reviewer will have 50 points to hand out and the two scores will be combined with a perfect score being 100 points. The points will be awarded in three categories.:

  1. The 3 A’s, Atmosphere, Ambiance and Authenticity – 15 points – This category also serves as a discretionary point bucket for intangibles.
  2. Presentation – 10 points – This is for how the drink is prepared, bar tender knowledge, flair in making the drink, etc.
  3. Taste – 25 points – Pretty self explanatory and really the only thing that matters

Lets get right to it:

Atmosphere, Ambiance and Authenticity

Windmill Lounge Jukebox - Photo Credit: Brandon Hancock

Judge 1 (Brandon) – 13 Points

If Slip Inn and Cosmos had a love child, the result would be Windmill Lounge.  Very eclectic interior in what I can only assume was a 70’s era diner in a former life.  I happen to like the idea of a Slip Inn / Cosmos love child, so I liked Windmill Lounge.  Along with the eclectic interior there was a diverse clientele that seemed to include medical personel from the nearby medical district, 20-something party people, hipsters and then there was me and my group.

Extra points for a unpretentious jukebox and an unpaved parking lot (porous surfaces are good for the environment).

Judge 2 (Colin) – 12 Points

I really liked the vibe in this bar.  The jukebox with a wide and varied selection of drinking music, a Cyclone pinball machine in the corner, and a complete lack of pretense (a rare thing in Dallas) made a relaxed atmosphere to suck down a drink or two.  It is reminiscent of Cosmos in Lakewood with a funky mix of lighting, furniture, and a eclectic collection of people that really don’t care what you look like or what you’re wearing. All in all, a pretty cool and inviting scene.  I give a 12 out of 15.

3 points off for repetitive and overly conspicuous trips to the bathrooms by a few patrons for, presumably, illicit self medication….


Brandon – 7 Points

The gentleman behind the bar the night we visited was a seasoned vet and took his time to make the drink. I ordered my Manhattan the way the house makes it, and away he went.  Nothing flashy, but then again flash wasn’t what I was looking for.

Extra points for the house made Luxardo cherries. The cherries are soaked in Luxardo liqueur which the proprietor informed us was made from ground up maraschino cherry pits.  Talk about the circle of life.  I might have had more drinks, but eating the cherry was like a shot and took care of that notion.

Colin – 7 Points

There was nothing extravagant or visually exciting about the preparation of the drink, but with a old school classic like a Manhattan, perhaps that’s as it should be.  It was gently stirred and served neat in a martini glass.

One twist that the bartender added that was different that the standard preparation, was a cherry marinated in what he described as a grappa-esque cherry liquor. Not a giant departure from the standard maraschino, but worth an extra point or two for this scoring


Brandon – 17 Points

As I mentioned in the Presentation score card, I ordered my drink the way the house makes it.  In this house they make a Rye Whiskey Manhattan which may be the first time I’ve had a non-bourbon Manhattan. Purists will note the first Manhattan was made with Rye Whiskey and insist it is the only way it should be made.  I’m not opposed to a Rye Manhattan, just that this particular one was not made with top shelf rye and you could definitely taste the grass and grain from the rye which took away the sweet and smoky notes from the cocktail.

I took away major points because I was just not a fan of the rye whiskey they used.  To each their own, but I currently prefer a bourbon Manhattan, but I’m open to a taste change if anyone has the goods.

Colin – 18 Points

Being the first Manhattan out of the chute, the Windmill perhaps suffers a bit from lack of others for comparison sake.  It was a solid and well made Manhattan with nothing added or changed to make it unique, save the supercharged cherry garnish.  With nothing missing, but also nothing to set this apart from other traditional Manhattans, I’ll give this one a 18 out of 25.


Brandon – 37 Total Points

I liked the bar as it is definitely Authentic. I’ll be back for drinks and will give the Rye Manhattan another go with a better Rye Whiskey in tow.

Colin – 37 Total Points

In the final analysis, I’d make a trip back to the Windmill more for the funky vibe and to drop a few quarters in the jukebox and the pinball machine, as opposed to a specific pilgrimage for their solid, but not necessarily outstanding Manhattan.

Final Score 74/100 Points

If you know a place that has a good Manhattan, let us know in the comments or email and we’ll give it a whirl.  Next stop Bolsa or Cedars Social

Photo Credit: Brandon Hancock



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