With a drinks menu divided by historical era, The Cedars Social has provided local cocktailians with possibly the city's most sophisticated beverage selection. But the most inspired page of the well-crafted menu features cocktails created by mixologists elsewhere.
"I like to call it a liquid vacation," bartender Mike Martensen says. "You can sit on any bar stool and have a drink from New York or San Francisco."
What makes the salute especially brilliant is Martensen's willingness to share credit, a trait sometimes in short supply at the bar. Rather than steal his colleagues' ideas or deny his patrons the chance to experience them, Martensen has listed the originating bars and bartenders for all four of his borrowed drinks. The generosity benefits bartenders by acknowledging their artistry and pumping up their profiles, and allows drinkers to savor cocktails they might not have the tools or expertise to recreate at home.
Martsensen knows of only one other cocktail bar -- Teardrop Lounge in Portland -- that explicitly showcases contemporary bartenders' drinks.
"It pays homage to everyone in the industry trying to further the tradition," Martensen says.
The four cocktails on Cedar Social's menu come from San Francisco's Rickhouse, Chicago's Violet Hour and New York City's Death & Co. There's also a drink created by Jason Kosmas, now with Twomey Concepts.
"By putting Jay on the menu, we're saying it's not about these other cities," Martensen says. "It's also about Dallas."
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But Martensen says many drinkers apparently aren't listening. Rickhouse's Kentucky Buck -- a concoction of bourbon, strawberries and ginger beer -- and Violet Hour's gin-based Juliet and Romeo have been among the bar's best sellers, a trend Martensen blames on local insecurities.
"I don't think Dallas ever wants to be known as Dallas," Martensen says. "People want what's from New York or San Francisco. They don't want to conform to Dallas."
Still, both imported recipes are outsold by the classic cocktails Martensen has asked his bartenders to push.
"For Dallas to become a cocktail city, we need to educate on where cocktails comes from," he explains.