"This right here is the epitome of a hipster palace," my boyfriend so eloquently put it. We had just stepped through the front doors of Hid In 2612, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pop-up bar located at 2612 Commerce in Deep Ellum for just four nights. The brainchild of bartenders -- excuse me, mixologists -- Michael Martensen and Brian McCullough of Cedars Social and Smoke, respectively, the bar temporarily occupies the space soon to become an extension of Cane Rosso's dining room, part of their expansion plan to accommodate the inevitable flux of new guests once their appearance on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives airs.
The rustic, loft-like, 1,400-square-foot space was divided into several smaller themed areas. To our left: a small wooden deck covered with decals of black ants and lawn chairs, with bright white light streaming up from underneath the planks, like a backyard Fourth of July party on the moon.
To our right: another small sitting area, the walls covered with vintage photos of women in Mad Men-era hairstyles, interspersed with Warhol pop-art bananas and Campbell's soup cans.
Nondescript jazzy music emanated from a couple tall speakers at an unmanned DJ booth. Forty or so twenty- and thirtysomethings milled about, sipping cocktails and conversing, winter coats draped over their arms.
Bizarre objects of all sorts hung in suspense from the ceiling -- iron birdcages occupied by fake birds, long spirals of driftwood, jars full of colored wooden beads, wine corks, and plastic Furbies and SpongeBobs (or is it Sponges Bob?) -- Happy Meal toys from days gone by, no doubt.
Farther back, near the bar, a houndstooth-splashed table glowed under blue light in a makeshift Moroccan-style tent. Detached mannequin legs sporting rollerskates stuck in the air. Art, I suppose.
We bellied up to the bar, just a long table, really, where three bartenders stood guard. I asked to see a cocktail list and was disappointed to hear they didn't have one, nor did they have any featured drinks they could recite to me verbally (I had heard Hid In would be featuring concoctions from McCullough's upcoming Uptown venture, Standard Pour). I relayed my usual parameters: "I like fruit, herbs, gin, champagne. Nothing sweet." We watched as the barwoman plucked a couple bright crimson strawberries from her mise en place and muddled them in the bottom of a shaker. A couple jiggers of gin, a generous squirt of lemon juice from one squeeze bottle and simple syrup from another, and a good shake with ice before being strained into a small coupe.
"Ten dollars, please."
No fancy custom ice cubes, no obscure liqueurs, no molecular gastronomy, not even a cute or clever name. (I would've coined that drink the "Fraise 75," for the record. Feel free to borrow that, guys.) It was a tasty drink, but it was also a drink I'd had before at other bars, including the one that occupies the small span of my kitchen counter not occupied by my coffee maker.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the point of a pop-up bar or restaurant was the chance to experiment, to test out new things that maybe aren't tried-and-true enough to sustain a permanent location. An undisclosed portion of the profits goes to the Deep Ellum Community Association, so I suppose it's drinking for a cause, but then again you could always patronize a more permanent area bar and all the profits will go to the neighborhood.
Hid In 2612 is serving up solid beverages in an interesting atmosphere, but it seems more like an art gallery that serves drinks as opposed to a cocktail bar; it's worth checking out if you wish to impress your friends with Facebook check-ins, but it's by no means a must-visit. After this weekend, Hid In 2612 will be gone, and so will my memories of it. Perhaps I went in expecting too much, but the press release did promise "an experience unlike any other in Dallas." In a city where reputation is everything, perhaps a good hype machine is really all you need.