Even though he's spent the last seven years shaking up some of the city's best craft cocktails, Proof + Pantry's Michael Martensen is a man of pretty simple tastes. As Martensen mentioned in our interview earlier this week, the most important part of going to a bar is more about the experience than the drinks.
Needless to say, as a devout Miller High Life drinker, Martensen isn't interested in bars that are primarily staffed by "mustachioed assholes" -- his words, and mine. If you've fallen victim to that in the past, head to these five Martensen-approved joints for a much better boozing experience.
Windmill Lounge As one of our 10 best cocktail bars, it's no surprise Martensen frequents the much-heralded Windmill Lounge. The owners are friendly, and you're likely to find Martensen and plenty of other bartenders gathered around shooting the shit on any given night. He still orders Miller High Life at Windmill, but occasionally takes a few shots of ouzo and sambuca on a good night out.
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The Standard Pour If you're looking for great drinks and a good time, head out to The Standard Pour, where you're likely to find Martensen once the dust settles at his brand new restaurant. Martensen, ever the stickler for good service and ambiance, calls the Standard Pour easily one of the best bars in town, mostly thanks to its chilled out vibe. To make the deal even better, the bar food here is as good as anything you'll find elsewhere in Uptown.
The Mansion According to Martensen, the Mansion is "fucking the shit." "They have one of the best patios in the city and nobody ever goes there," he says. That may have something to do with the fact that they (probably) check your credit score before you walk in the door, but Martensen actually considers this place a bargain. "They have one of my favorite glasses of wine, a William Fievre Chablis. It's like $13 a glass, so that's not bad. They also do a homemade tonic and gin that's just ridiculous good. Better than the best G&T you've ever had."
Parliament Seasoned Dallas bar vet Eddie "Lucky" Campbell's new place in Uptown, Parliament, may have just opened up in the past few days, but service industry folks always have the scoop on great new places to drink. "It's a beautiful little room, and he's doing something solid there," Martensen says. "I'll be there frequently, so long as there's no Uptown riffraff there."
Knife The food at John Tesar's new steakhouse Knife has been much discussed, but the cocktails really haven't received much fanfare. According to Martensen, who worked on the drinks menu there, mixologists at Knife are offering "open cocktails" to guests, where they choose their spirits and their drink. "Think about a negroni," he says. "They'll ask if you want a traditional negroni with gin, or a mescal negroni. They're also doing that with the martini and asking if you'd like your drink shaken, thrown, or stirred." It's these kinds of little touches that make this place a bartender (and drinker's) dream.