The Secret Life of Dallas Bars in Summer
The vibe changes at Dallas bars in the summer.
Welcome to the 2017 Dallas Summer Drinking Guide, your blueprint to the best summer ever. Hang with us and we'll lead you to the city's best summer drinks, parties and hotspots.
If ever there was a time to skip out of work early and post up at a bar, sipping Moscow Mules and watching the world go by, it's now.
For most us, it's been years since we've known the sweet release of summer break. But even those of us chained to a desk still get a taste of summer's freedom, its cookouts and long weekends and trips to places where we try to untether our psyches from a world that makes it increasingly difficult to disconnect.
Even if we can't get away, there's always one place will have us: the bar. With so many people shirking responsibility and enjoying the fruits of long weekends and short workdays, it feels as if Dallas bars should be packed to the gills this time of year — but it's actually the opposite.
"August is the slowest month of the year for most of us," says Brian McCullough, co-founder of the Standard Pour.
Blame it on vacations or the heat or just a general summer malaise, but Dallas bars get a bit quieter this time of year — but they also get a little more creative in an effort to draw people in.
"When it gets super hot, things do [get] slow because nobody likes to sit outside in 100 degrees, generally — and we are patio-driven," says Meri Dahlke, owner of Ten Bells Tavern and Eight Bells Alehouse. "We just try and do fun things to draw people in like pub quizzes, pint nights and other special events to entice people to brave the heat."
For McCullough, summer is a time to step back and prepare for the busy seasons (most notably football and the holidays) ahead.
"We shrink our menus, we control our orders and costs and come up with new ways to bring people in," McCullough says. He pares down on live music, simplifies his menus and offers "more aggressive specials," he says.
The vibe shifts as well, McCullough says.
"It becomes a little more jovial, less serious," he says. "The perspective is a little different."
For those of us who can't get away to beach houses and timeshares and breezy summer escapes, a little change in perspective goes a long way. And that's why, for us, summer will always be the season of frozen cocktails, icy beer mugs and long, rambling chats with friendly bartenders. Between the laziness of a summer afternoon and the beauty of a better-than-average drink special, summer is the prime season for exploring the increasingly diverse Dallas bar scene.
We may not have three months of pure, unadulterated summer freedom anymore, but as consolation prizes go, you can do a lot worse than a cold beer sipped slowly on a long summer day as you gaze out the bar window, watching the sun crawl across the Texas sky.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Dallas dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.