The smell of brewing coffee filled the air, rich and fragrant with undertones of cocoa and nuts. The dark brown, slightly viscous liquid dripped ever so slowly through a paper filter into an oversized glass flask -- a Chemex coffee maker, the likes of which I'd never seen before.
It was an unseasonably warm Thursday night at Oddfellows in the not-quite-painfully hip Bishop Arts District. The bar's large picture windows open to let in the cool evening breeze. I rested my haunches on a barstool, elbows resting on the metal bar edged in chipping painted wood.
Oddfellows looks like the site of a Anthropologie catalog shoot: lots of distressed blonde wood and white walls, exposed ducts and concrete floors. The clientele was varied, but there were lots of skinny jeans and bicycles (a 10-percent discount is offered to those arriving via bike), and all the male staffers sported scruffy beards.
The intoxicating coffee aroma thoroughly invaded my nostrils, but I was there to get buzzed on alcohol, not caffeine. For a restaurant that caters more toward the breakfast/brunch/lunch crowd, Oddfellows has a pretty impressive booze menu. In addition to a respectable selection of draft beers, including brews from Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Real Ale and UFO, there's also a list of 11 hand-crafted cocktails that make use of ingredients from pink peppercorns and house-made grenadine to pineapple-sage vermouth. Prices are fairly reasonable, ranging from $6.50 to $10.
I succumbed to my usual preferences and ordered the Apricot Ginny ("apricot-infused gin + lime juice + simple syrup + Peychaud bitters + ginger beer + muddled mint"). At Oddfellows, the bartender and the barista are one and the same, so expect a bit of a wait, as their fancy fair-trade coffee and espresso drinks take a bit of elbow grease.
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My eagerly awaited drink was delivered in a rocks glass, perfect cubes of crystal clear ice breaking the surface of the light peach-pink liquid. A single plump dried apricot speared with a toothpick made an appropriate garnish. The apricot flavor was bullied into slight submission by the spicy ginger beer, but I appreciated the balance provided by the bitters, fresh citrus juice and mint. Despite its ballet-slipper hue, this was no super-sweet girly drink.
I had to order the Pink Sailor next, finding the menu description to be somewhat revolting yet intriguing. The description of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, crème de cacao, lemon, raspberry and Herbsaint sounded all over the place, but I took a leap of faith and ordered it anyway. Nearly identical in appearance to my first drink, this one was instead adorned with a raspberry and a lemon wedge. I muddled it further with my straw to ensure the flavors had melded and took a tentative sip. Much to my surprise, the flavors harmonized -- the crème de cacao and spiced rum married well as expected, while the lemon and raspberry brightened, keeping it from veering into heavy sweetness, and the absinthe (used with a thankfully light hand) added the slightest herbal overtone.
Those same hands making latte art also have a deft touch with the cocktail shaker. Well done, barista.
Oddfellows is pretty hipster, no doubt about it, but it doesn't seem quite as painfully self-aware as some of the hipster havens of East Dallas. Sure, the staff and some of the patrons might look like they stepped out of Portlandia, but there's no PBR in sight, nor did I spot any Skrillex cuts. By the time I paid my tab the barista had already poured all the drip coffee and cleaned the fancy espresso machine, but I'll be back during daylight hours to sit on one of the sidewalk barstools and enjoy the springtime air and a cup of that Joe.