Strangeways

It's hard not to feel as though you're walking into a Manchester pub when you step foot into the East Dallas bar Strangeways. The exposed concrete walls and wooden rafters lend to the industrial British atmosphere, but what really sets the mood is the music that breathes life into the gritty space. An impressive mix of The Smiths, New Order, Joy Division, The Jam and others blast from the speakers located above the beer taps. The drinks are strong at Strangeways, but few things are more intoxicating than when a good bar plays good music.

Liquid Zoo

Liquid Zoo owner Nell Scarborough can hardly hold a conversation without humming along to whatever power ballad is playing in her East Dallas bar. She's not the only one. The room is filled with Richard Marx fans, who, according to the genuine looks on their faces as they sing along, "will be right here waiting for you." The thing is, the music coupled with Liquid Zoo's atmosphere actually makes sense. In fact, if you hang out there long enough, you might find yourself on stage doing karaoke to Michael Bolton's version of "When A Man Loves A Woman."

Paschall Bar

Denton's University of North Texas campus releases thousands of graduates into the real world each year. It's expected that they'll take their education and move away to another, bigger city. Such is not the case in Denton, where many graduates have been hanging around the town like an adult son crashing at his parents' house for a few years too many. Midlake, the enterprising band composed of UNT graduates, has created Paschall Bar for the older, more discerning Denton resident. The bartenders — often traveling musicians between tours — are trained mixologists. As such, Paschall Bar serves up the best cocktails on that side of the county line.

Beauty Bar

Beauty Bar is such a great dance club because it hosts some of the area's best DJs. Sober's Thursday night residency has become a hipster hotspot, where his mix of old-school hip-hop and indie rock packs an interesting mix of party people onto the small dance floor each week. It's a place that's saturated with glamour, from the vintage mirrors to the art deco lamps that hang over the bar, which patrons are lucky to reach as the crowd surges throughout the night. They ask you to check any pretentiousness at the velvet rope out front. At Beauty Bar, it's all about having fun.

Club Schmitz

There aren't too many wholesome hangouts amongst the strip joints in far Northwest Dallas anymore, save for one place that has been in business since 1946. The family-owned Club Schmitz is the quintessential Dallas dive bar. Very little about the place detracts from its kitschy charm. The wood-paneled walls are covered with yellowed Budweiser displays that were hung there when they were new. The shuffleboard table is one of the most well-seasoned in the area. As the woman behind the bar will tell you as she serves a greasy, mustard-tinged burger and a beer in a plastic cup, people have been coming here since they were kids and now they bring their kids. The place has become a family tradition.

The Cedars Social

Go up to any bartender at The Cedars Social and order a Ramos Gin Fizz, one of the most complicated drinks in the cocktail canon. They won't even need to refer to a recipe. Instead, they'll build the drink straight from memory. Same goes for the Old Fashioned, which many on The Cedars Social staff can perfect while holding a leisurely conversation with a patron. That's because the bartenders at Cedars Social are a different breed. Their memories are infused with cocktail history, and should anyone on either side of the bar forget it, the bar holds up a stack of cocktail books the bartenders refer to as bibles.

When The Cedars Social's head barman Michael Martensen quietly opened the doors to Bar 828 in Oak Cliff, a charity-benefiting pop-up bar in Oak Cliff, it was only a matter of minutes until the place was packed. Martensen brought in the area's top bartenders to mix drinks. It was so popular that only a few months later he did the same thing in Deep Ellum, where Hid In popped up in Cane Roso's extra room. It was like a bartender's playground, where mixologists were able to get a little more adventurous than they would in their home bars.

Union Bear

It's not the biggest as far as brewpubs go, or at least doesn't have the brewing capacity of a Humperdink's, Gordon Biersch or BJ's. In fact, it only brews one beer at a time to complement its array of other fine ales and lagers. But brewing a new offering every week, this self-proclaimed "nanobrewery" makes up for its small output with creativity, offering amateur brewers the chance to collaborate on experimental batches. And even if one of them turns out to be a dud, there are always the dozens of other brews to choose from. Wine selection and food ain't half bad, either.

The first of four new breweries to open in the past year, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is the biggest and offers the widest selection. Helmed by John Reardon and the capable and creative brewmaster Drew Huerter, DEBC rolls out a new style every few weeks. They're almost always good to great, and all have some creative spin on an established style. The India Pale Ale is an outstanding example of the style, Darkest Hour is a wonderfully complex rye imperial stout and Farmhouse Wit manages to capture the best of two different styles. The many other offerings are excellent too, and you probably won't have to wait long for yet another to emerge.

Best Bar for Wallowing in Your Heartbreaking Loss

Lee Harvey's

Lee Harvey's

One of the most cathartic sounds in Dallas is a crunch. It's the sound of gravel under your shoe upon that first step into Lee Harvey's expansive patio, where rickety wood benches rest around old candles and wood-burning ovens smoke away your troubles. There's no better place in Dallas to undo that tight tie and flip off the blazer after a crushing loss, whether it be a campaign or something else, and flop down with an ice-cold Miller High Life. Go at night for maximum dim wallowing.

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