If you've spent much time in the Dallas cocktail scene, you've come across Nico Martini. (Yes, that's really his name.) This week, the local cocktail personality launched his latest venture, Texas Cocktails, a new book celebrating the cocktails intrinsically tied to Texas culture and cuisine.
Martini's history with Dallas cocktails is befitting of a guy named Nico Martini. He once worked on a reality TV show called Cocktail Confidential, which had a pilot but was never picked up.
He and his business partner decided they liked the idea of introducing people to cocktails, so they formed Bar Draught, "a mobile draft cocktail system, and we're working on various ways to get more craft cocktails in places that wouldn't normally sell them," Martini says. "Once I took an interest in cocktails, I started working towards being more involved in the scene nationally. I've done a TEDx talk on the history of cocktails in the U.S. and am the director of industry outreach for the San Antonio Cocktail Conference."
Now, he's also the author of the definitive guide to Texas cocktails. The book has more than 100 craft cocktail recipes — from classics to new twists on standbys like the margarita and Harvey Wallbanger — and also "profiles distilleries, food and drink hotspots, and some of the hottest bartenders and mixologists from across the state," according to a press release.
"Honestly, I'm a Texan, and I wanted to make sure that our state and our scene here was documented in some way," Martini says. "This is a love letter to this state and this industry. I wanted to feature the incredible work happening here and make sure everyone knew where the good work was being done."
Martini is based in Dallas, so it's no surprise that the book celebrates a number of local cocktails you'll find in some of the city's best cocktail bars.
"There's 34 cocktails from this area, not including the ones that are from brands," he says.
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The book features cocktails from Hide, Midnight Rambler, Black Swan, Shoals and Armoury D.E. It plays triple-duty as a home bartender's companion, a city cocktail guide and a deep dive into native Texas libations.
This weekend, Martini is hosting a bar crawl to release the book, which means you can sip the cocktails featured in its pages while paying happy hour prices. From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Martini will sign books at Bar and Garden, then lead a bar crawl that starts with the Blessing of the Agave at Shoals at 4 p.m. and heads to Off the Record, Twilite Lounge, Black Swan, Armoury D.E. and Hide, all of which are walkable in Deep Ellum.
"North Texas has an incredible bar scene and can hang with the best of the best," Martini says. "We have technology-driven bars that push the envelope, like Hide. We have laid-back dives with excellent cocktails, like Industry Alley. We have places that you just feel cooler when you walk in, like Shoals Sound and Service or Atwater Alley, and we have bars that will always serve some of the best-executed drinks in the country, like Midnight Rambler and The Usual. Hell, we even do cocktails in our college town at Paschall Bar in Denton.
"Dallas' scene is incredible," Martini says. "You can't open a restaurant here without having some sort of small cocktail program, and it's amazing to see how our cocktail culture has become status quo over the years."