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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….

Presentation

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

Taste

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.

Conclusion

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pZPDa-6z



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Concert Alert: The Lonely Forest, Tonight! @ Club Dada

14 Mar

Quick note to pass along, another late concert notice, but do yourself a favor and check out The Lonely Forest tonight at Club Dada. The Washington State based band is making a swim through Dallas on their way to Austin for SXSW, and it would be great if Dallas can show them some love.

No excuses! The band is great, the cover is cheap ($8), the venue is solid, beer selection is good and when I visited Club Dada last week I was pleasantly surprised how nice everyone working there was. They were genuinely grateful for the patronage. Help keep Authentic places in Dallas open and our music scene growing by going to concerts like tonight, you’ll come away a Lonely Forest fan.

Details

Also, come back tomorrow and get the details for Authentic Dallas’ SXSW 2011 plans.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pZPDa-5F

Super Bowl Roundup

9 Feb

There beer is Mothy...

I wanted to pass along two articles published last week about places to visit, and by visit I mean eat, in Dallas.  See highlights below.

The first one is from The Houston Chronicle:

Test your mettle at the Moth

Whenever craft-beer fans’ talk turns to Dallas, the Meddlesome Moth inevitably comes up.

The restaurant has an extensive bottled-beer menu and a strong selection of draft brew, including several reasonably priced flights of five, 5-ounce samples. That’s a good way to try, say, a range of Texas beers, U.S. crafts or imports.

During the run-up to the Super Bowl, the Moth will put some special kegs on tap as well.

I apologize to the Moth as I left them out of my SB preview, so consider this my offering of apology.

And from the New York Times via the Dallas Morning News, we get this take that Arlington isn’t all that authentic:

The faithful have started to arrive in this drab, featureless city a little closer to Fort Worth than to Dallas. They have come sweat-panted and reverent to stand along Collins Street to photograph Cowboys Stadium, to walk the sidewalk surrounding its $1.2 billion form.

The author goes on to touch on some Dallas treasures we all know so well:

I had a meal at Bolsa, an art house hangout in the city’s Oak Cliff neighborhood with a grand hamburger, decent pizzas and an ambitious cocktail list,

One of the best was Nonna, a trattoria in the Oak Lawn neighborhood that is across the street from a Whole Foods market. The restaurant, with its Italian menu, excellent wine list and cosmopolitan service style, serves as a clubhouse for some of Dallas’ most influential citizens. (Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, was there the other night in black suit and well-polished black cowboy boots, walking the dining room and shaking hands. “I used to think I could only really get excited about Dallas playing a football game,” he drawled. “But this is pretty great.”)

Daniel Vaughn, a Dallas architect and self-professed prophet of smoked meat who blogs as the BBQ Snob, believes the city can hold its own. A meal at Smoke, the chef Tim Byres’ haute barbecue restaurant, would seem to back him up, at least on the brisket front.

There are arguments here about tacos, as well. For some, the best come from the stand inside the Fuel City station on Industrial Drive in Dallas, a business perched almost on the banks of the flood plains of the Trinity River. Corn tortillas filled with picadillo or barbacoa are favorites, slathered with hot sauce and covered with onions and cilantro, and eaten in the parking lot as traffic screams by.

Better, though, is Fuel Town 2, a Texaco station on Inwood Road practically under the Stemmons Freeway, a short drive from the airport at Dallas Love Field. The barbacoa is less greasy than at the competitors, full of flavor, and the tortillas warmer, fresher, tasting more emphatically of corn. Served with lemons, cilantro, grilled onion and whole jalapeno, with a chunky red salsa, a taco here may be the perfect Dallas snack food. And at $1.50, a good value, too.

If you have any reviews or articles from out of town sources, I’d love to know what other people thought about the authentic sides of Dallas.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pZPDa-4I

RSS Feed

3 Nov

After pulling my hair out since I started this blog confounded as to why every time I click on the RSS Feed tab I get nothing but my unformatted posts, I realized it is a Goolge Chrome and Firefox browser issue, and not a me issue.  So, if you use IE or Safari you’re golden.  If not, subscribe to the Authentic Dallas feed via your favorite method or if you have no idea what I’m talking about, click on the icon below and let it do all the work.

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New Deep Ellum Bar: 2826 Arnetic

21 Jul

D Magazine has a “Web Exclusive” article reviewing a new bar called 2826 Arnetic (Arnetic is an acronym, for Absolutely Reluctant iN Everything That is Conforming, kind of sounds like a bar after this website’s heart).

Reading the article is my first exposure to this bar, but I will be checking the place out in the next few weeks and will report back with my thoughts.  Until then, I encourage everyone to give them some business and let me know what you think.  Also, if you know of any other bars, restaurants, etc. that deserve a mention, be sure and send an email and let us know.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/pZPDa-1o

New Restaurant in the Cedars

21 Jul

The Dallas Morning News Eats Blog is reporting that a new restaurant and lounge called “Cedars Social” will be opening up this August in the Cedars at the former location of something called Sala Tex Mex.  I am very excited to hear the Cedars neighborhood is getting a new venue to add to Lee Harvey’s, The Palladium / Loft, and my favorite, Absinthe Lounge, as a new draw for the area.

I believe that of all the close in neighborhoods surrounding downtown (Cedars, Near East Dallas, Oak Cliff, West Dallas, etc.), the Cedars has the best opportunity to become an organically developed, mixed income,  urban neighborhood.  Just ask the current residents and they’ll tell you they are already making it happen.

I look forward to trying out this new venue, and I hope it adds another unique place to visit in arguably the most authentic Dallas neighborhood.

Shortlink – http://wp.me/pZPDa-1d

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