Full disclosure: I appreciate Midnight Rambler, the bougie bar somewhat hiding in the basement of The Joule hotel.
I moved downtown to the Central Business District in 2010. There wasn't a lot, from conveniences to number of residents. We had a new place to walk dogs in Main Street Garden Park. The Statler still looked like it desperately needed a power wash. And drinking options involved the beloved City Tavern, but one didn’t need to dress up and feel like you’re going out to drink there.
That’s why so many appreciate Midnight Rambler, the space that feels like you’re stepping back in time, from both the decor and the music. Perhaps it's also the attire of bartenders wearing skinny ties behind denim aprons or the antique speakers secured to the room’s corners.
It’s a place to feel fancy and find a quality cocktail — one you’ll pay for, of course, but one you can appreciate (even if it’s in your budget’s best interest to buy just one).
This week, the bar marks five years. That’s five years as The Joule has become even more of a destination, Headington Companies has taken over more of the neighborhood and more people have become downtown Dallas residents.
“We’ve watched the CBD residency re-densify,” says Chad Solomon, who founded the bar with Christy Pope.
The two have extensive backgrounds in the beverage world. They were part of Milk & Honey in New York, which was part of the resurgence of the craft cocktail, Pope says.
When they looked at opening a place together, they searched in Austin for eight months but didn’t find the right spot. Then they were called about a Dallas space.
“We knew immediately the potential,” Pope says of the room that was just a concrete block when they looked at it. “The Joule was a dream.”
They developed a plan that some didn’t think would work. They had small seats, tables placed close to each other, no TVs and a detailed drink menu.
Despite the folks confident this would flop, here it sits pretty much the same way today. From the first day, Oct. 3, 2014, to today, the experience is intentional, from design to playlist to menu to staff.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do here. It’s more or less the way we hoped it would be,” Solomon says.
There’s a shindig to celebrate the anniversary from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. You do have to pay a $20 entrance fee, which gets you a Champagne toast at midnight and a T-shirt (that’s first-time swag for the bar). There will also be New York’s DJ Johnathan Toubin and his soul clap dance-off: sounds fitting for the space, and Solomon promises Toubin rocks DJ-ing “like an instrument.”
It might be just the right after-party to Tacolandia.
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