This week's drinking dispatch is brought to you courtesy of my complete inability to pass up dollar drinks, particularly when said bargain drinks involve the words "gimlet" or "Collins" rather than "McCormicks" or "Bud."
While performing my morning ritual of catching up on the latest in Food Blog-Land over coffee, I came across a tidbit on Eater Dallas that noted that The Chesterfield was offering $1 craft cocktails weekdays from 11 to 3. A visit to the bar's Facebook page revealed this offer was only valid with the purchase of a lunch entrée, but as I never drink before noon on an empty stomach anyway -- if you thought I was going to say "I never drink before noon", you are terribly misled -- I canceled all my very important Friday afternoon meetings and rushed downtown.
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The Chesterfield's doors were wide open to let in the unseasonably warm weather, and diners spilled out onto the front patio lined with small tables. I stepped inside and surveyed the interior: huge crystal chandeliers, exposed brick, velvet damask in shades of maroon and mauve, rustic weathered hardwood floors. White mustachioed men in navy suits powwowed in the back room, framed by dark cherry wood and gold filigree. A fedora-clad barman ostentatiously shook drinks at a frenetic pace, filling three coupe glasses at a time from a stainless steel shaker. Every barstool was occupied by patrons drinking, eating and conversing, so I slid into a cushy leather banquette and prepared myself for a (mostly) liquid lunch.
The dollar cocktail list offered two each of vodka and whiskey drinks and one with tequila. I started with the Basil Gimlet (vodka, lime, basil). It was tart, with a slightly bitter edge from the abundance of fresh lime, and the muddled basil provided a sweet herbaceous note that prevented it from veering into too-sour territory. The aforementioned fedora-sporting gentleman, whom I learned was owner Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, stopped by the table to ask me how my drink was. I told him it was the best dollar drink I'd ever had.
The tequila-based Buena Suerte ("good luck") wasn't quite as successful. The promised ginger and mint mostly obscured by the heavy-handed pour of lime juice. Tasted like a margarita, albeit a well-crafted one, and still a steal at just a buck. At this point I had managed to finish most of my lunch between sips, and my server tried to drop off the check, but I fully intended to milk this opportunity for as many bargain cocktails as possible, so I requested one more drink--a classed up version of the whiskey sour called The Ward. The combo of fresh lemon, orange and "old grenadine" (pomegranate reduction) was a welcome stand-in for the typical sour mix used at most bars, and the resulting refreshment went down easily, even for a non-whiskey drinker such as myself.
If I worked in a cubicle downtown I'd be here every day promptly at 2 to nosh on the seasonal flatbread and down five or so of those dollar drinks, then stumble back to the office in my high heels and pencil skirt and watch YouTube videos of kittens playing the piano for the last couple hours before going home. The daytime atmosphere could be improved by a couple small adjustments, as Scott mentioned last week: lose the Kings of Leon, go with something a little more subdued and sexy. Close the door, draw the curtains and shut out the glaring sunshine and the traffic; if you could just manage to ignore the dude in track pants at the table next to you, it would seem worlds away from the hustle and bustle of midday downtown.