Right now, there’s really no better place to sit on a patio and drink than Spork, the Sonic Drive-In turned chef-driven casual restaurant. The weather right now is excellent at night, the strings of white lights and Sonic-chic neons add kitsch, and if you go late enough, you can avoid the children who terrorize this patio while their parents drink cocktails. This is a spot where copious drinking can be done comfortably if you’ve got a good strategy.
Once you claim your spot in the most child-free part of the patio, then comes the hard part. The cocktail menu here is quirky and charming, and perhaps most important, priced reasonably. You might as well just go on ahead and get ready to have a few drinks, because narrowing your options down to just one is going to be close to impossible.
The $5 Gin n’ Juice concoction is a solid choice, as is a peach tea-infused gin cocktail cleverly called Country Water. But if you’re looking for something a little bit quirkier, you should go for “The Truth Is Out There,” a whiskey-based punch that features a hefty scoop of frozen rainbow sherbet. Strange as it may seem, rainbow sherbet is the cocktail ingredient you never knew you were missing.
Lovers of the sophisticated and spirit-forward may not find much to love on this menu, but this particular cocktail is one of the most interesting we’ve seen in Dallas in a long time. There aren’t any fancy infusions or tedious shaking techniques, just decent whiskey and even better ingredients. In a world of increasingly fussy and obscure cocktails, it’s refreshing to see a bar program have a little fun while still developing pretty sophisticated flavor profiles.
Evan Williams, a perfectly acceptable whiskey in a $7 cocktail, provides a boozy backbone. The pours at Spork could stand to be a little more generous, but a little less good whiskey is better than too much bad whiskey. An upgrade to a top-shelf spirit will only cost you about $2, and it’s generally worth those eight quarters, but here the nuance of a really good whiskey would probably be lost. The sweetness of a basic, good-for-mixing bourbon is really all that is needed.
Blueberry purée lends a purplish-red hue to the cocktail, and plenty of fruity sweetness. The fruit used to make the purée was surprisingly fresh, if a bit watery. A little lemon juice and simple syrup add balance to the fruit and whiskey, and a healthy splash of ginger beer rounds out the whole thing. Once the cocktail is mixed, a big ol’ scoop of the sherbet is plopped in the middle, but that’s the only fanfare you’ll see on this drink. No need for fancy garnishes when your star ingredient is a staple for preschoolers.
The only real problem is that the resulting cocktail, especially once you start swirling that big scoop of sherbet around your glass, takes on a less-than-appetizing color. The ginger beer muddles the blueberry, and the creamy sherbet results in an ugly, murky slurry that has turned a gross shade of brown by the time you’ve finished half the drink. Fortunately, the flavors are impressive enough that you’ll be able to ignore the icky color. Or maybe you should go at night, when it’s so dark on the patio you won’t even notice.
The Truth Is Out There is served with both a spoon and straw, sort of like a boozy float. It isn’t exactly easy to get a spoonful of sherbet that’s floating around in the glass, but put your thinking cap on. A little sherbet plus some of that fruity, boozy sauce on your spoon is exactly how this cocktail should be savored. The sherbet is firm, so it won’t melt away immediately and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the cocktail and the creamy confection separately.
Once it has melted, swirl the remainder around into your glass and take a big sip. At this point, it’s probably bordering on too-sweet territory, but just call it dessert. This isn’t necessarily one of those cocktails you can easily slam back four or five of, but it’s certainly worth a try when you find yourself in North Dallas with a hankering for something a little more interesting than the area’s usual drinking options.
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