Best Of Dallas

The 10 Best Dallas Bars When Someone Else is Paying

It's scientifically proven that the best tasting drinks are the ones that someone else has purchased for you. Even a PBR tastes like Champagne when you didn’t have to shell out a single nickel for the refreshment, but a well-mixed drink is heaven in a glass when someone else is footing that $10-plus-per-cocktail bill. If you have somehow happened upon a benevolent rich friend (or sugar daddy), it’s important that you take advantage of this arrangement in the best way possible.

As such, it’s time to drag your ass out of the dive bars and head to some of Dallas’ more refined establishments. You know, those places that would generally kick your unkempt, impoverished ass to the curb at first glance. Shine up your thrift store Oxfords and put on something swanky; these 10 establishments only accept the highest-class riffraff.
10. The Cedars Social

The first real arrival in Dallas’ burgeoning craft cocktail movement, The Cedars Social has fizzled a little in recent years, as some of its more talented drink slingers have moved on to bigger and better things. Still, the drinks are strong (and pricey) and there’s nothing more chic than someone paying a $100 tab for five drinks that’s brought to your table in an old hardcover book. You might not see any real artists here — they can’t afford to come — but there’s plenty of space for you to pretend. 

1326 S. Lamar St., Dallas,
9. The Woolworth

This hipster bar with a hipster name is much less obnoxious than you think it’s going to be, especially if you manage to get your hand on one of those $26 cocktails for two served in a gilded pineapple and crowned with dry ice. The selection of Texas whiskeys (and those from other, lesser states) is impressive, if straight-up spirits are your thing. Otherwise, stick to the cocktail menu and avoid ordering Bahama Mamas and making yourself look like a plebe.

1520 Elm St., Dallas,
8. Veritas Wine Room

No cocktails here (duh), but plenty of expertly curated wines and good snacks. The atmosphere is a little romantic and a lot plush, and you’ll want to make sure that your credit card doesn’t get declined should you end up with the check. You can do well at half-price bottle nights and the weekly lobster bake, but you’re better off just having someone else pay for those bottles of Bordeaux.

2323 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas,

7. The Mitchell

This Downtown space has been home to a couple of swanky cocktail concepts, and The Mitchell is the latest of that ilk. The focus here is on gin cocktails and martinis, both expensive and well-mixed. This isn’t exactly the place to bring your bros, but maybe a well-heeled person you’re trying to impress. Wear the shoes without the holes in the soles, please.

1404 Main St., Dallas,

6. The People’s Last Stand

Yeah, it’s in Uptown, but The People’s Last Stand isn’t anything like your concept of an “Uptown bar.” After midnight the atmosphere can get a little clubby, but before that, you can order up a stellar cocktail in a cozy atmosphere without having to listen to any dubstep at all. Pay attention to the frequently rotating cocktail specials here; the fresh and in-season picks are always the best.

5319 E. Mockingbird Lane, No. 210, Dallas,
5. Windmill Lounge

It’s not so much that the cocktails at Windmill Lounge on Maple Avenue are expensive, it’s just that you’re going to want to drink a lot of them. Should you get lucky enough to find Louise behind the bar (and you often will), you can expect an expertly mixed drink in a room that’s dim enough to hide the shame of your poverty. Expect wobbly tables and a sweaty patio, but that’s all part of this much-beloved bar’s charm.

5320 Maple Ave., Dallas,
4. The Foundation Room

You’ll have to hook up (not literally) with someone who’s got a pricey membership to this swanky little nook at the House of Blues in downtown, but your experience will no doubt be worth it. Top-shelf booze is abundant and so is good people-watching, especially if you’re sober enough to tell all your friends about it the next day. Solid cocktails and an impressive wine list await, if you’re cool enough to get in.

2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas,

3. Parliament

Eddie Campbell and his award-winning team of hooligans are cranking out incredible cocktails at Parliament, but you’re going to pay for them. Good booze doesn’t come cheap, and that’s especially true when it’s being mixed well. You can probably afford to drink on your pauper’s budget during happy hour, but bring someone rich when the drinks are full price. You’ll pay for the quality, but you’ll always get it.

2418 Allen St, Dallas,
2. Midnight Rambler

Slinking down the stairs to this cocktail den in The Joule Hotel is already going to make you feel cool, but when you’ve got a sugar daddy, take full advantage at Midnight Rambler. The folks behind the bar here are impressively knowledgeable, and can help you find a cocktail that is much better than those shitty Seven-and-Sevens that you’ve been drinking since college. Bring a notebook and pretend to be writing your first novel or something; you’ll fit in.

1530 Main St., Dallas,
1. The Mansion Bar

This place has “The Mansion” in its name, and yet it's still somehow deceptively swanky. It lacks all of the pomp and circumstance of Dallas’ stereotypical nouveau-riche style, and has all the mid-century glamour that hurts extra when your pockets are empty. Let lead bartender Lauren Festa mix you up whatever she damn well pleases, and pray that it’s not your turn to pick up the tab. This is the spot to splurge on fine Kentucky bourbons and good scotch, especially on someone else’s dime.

2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas,

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Amy McCarthy