The Usual

‘Tis the season to be jolly – when else do you get to experience crowded malls, cranky relatives, overcooked turkey, and countless dead pine needles on your living room floor?

Indeed, if you’re at all like me during the holidays, usually by December 23 you’re in need of a good, stiff drink.

Of course, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is also prime time for catching up with friends and out-of-town visitors, and stealing a few minutes away from the holiday hustle-and-bustle. Another good excuse for a cocktail.

Fortunately in Fort Worth, we have an exciting craft cocktail scene – sophisticated spots where you can enjoy an artfully mixed drink and some holiday season calm. Here are three suggestions, though if you have others to recommend, make sure to mention them in the Comments section. 

The Usual

Owner Brad Hensarling was well ahead of the craft cocktail curve when he opened his swank, smoke-free bar on Magnolia Avenue in 2009. These days it’s regularly one of the most crowded nightspots in Fort Worth, with slick professionals elbowing for space with young hipsters. Reading the cocktail menu with its obscure ingredients is sometimes akin to wading through Proust – what the heck is Rhum Agricole, anyway? – but the resulting concoctions are uniformly fabulous. On a recent visit, I tried the appropriately wintry-sounding Fireside, which features bourbon, honey, ginger, lemon and angostura. The smoothness of the bourbon is finished with a hit of heat, courtesy of a few drops of the angostura – a beautifully buzzy combination.

Café Modern

Most people don’t necessarily think of Fort Worth’s Museum of Modern Art as a place to get your drink on. But two years ago, Café Modern underwent a renovation, and the resulting bar area offers one of the most entertaining and offbeat craft cocktail menus in town, with drinks inspired by famous artwork. My personal fave is “Gun, by Warhol” which features, Rittenhouse rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, bitters and fig syrup. (Can you tell I’m a bourbon and whiskey kind of guy?) The museum closes at 5 p.m. on most days, so this is more of an afternoon boozehound’s destination. But, hey, it’s the holidays! You’re supposed to drink the middle of the day. (Oh, and the food is pretty tasty here, too.)

T&P Tavern

Located inside the old Texas & Pacific Railway Station building, where you can now take the TRE train to Dallas and other points east, T&P Tavern evokes romantic images from old John Cheever short stories, of knocking back a gimlet or Manhattan before grabbing the last train of the night out of the city. And even if you have no cause to take the train anywhere, the T&P nonetheless has one of the best-kept-secret cocktail menus in Fort Worth. If you’re looking for a good option for a cold day, try “The Coal Train,” with Jameson, hazelnut liqueur, Baileys and Guinness.

Wherever you end up drinking, though, make sure you have a designated driver or the number of a Fort Worth cab company. Happy holidays!