Those who have read my previous blog posts know I have lamented the lack of a real tiki bar in Dallas. In a city like Dallas, you would think it would be a thing, given the population’s love of craft cocktails. However, all is not totally lost. Within the dizzying array of endless gastropubs and cocktail lounges that Dallas has to offer, there have been signs of the appreciation that many bartenders have for the wonderful drinks that we tiki-philes have come to adore. Two bars in particular have gotten some major attention here, thanks to their weekly Tiki nights, which feature a dedicated menu of their tropical cocktails. I decided to pay each a visit, and check out their offerings, as well as talk to the people behind the initiatives, and learn a little more about them.
Destination 1: Rapscallion
Rapscallion is a hot spot in the trendy Lower Greenville neighborhood of Dallas. After their doors opened in 2015, they quickly stood out for their carefully created menu of Southern culinary offerings, with a modern twist. Their bar also got quite a reputation for serving creative, flavorful cocktails. So, how did tiki find its way into their drink menu? The man behind Rapscallion’s tiki libations, Ravinder Singh, understands that tiki drinks are very much a labor of love, and appreciates the complexity of the ingredients. So do his patrons – Rapscallion’s tiki night has been going strong for over a year, and there are plans to expand the already robust menu.
There is a nice selection of classics to be found here, as well as some very well-thought out and innovative new cocktails. I decided to try the Mai Tai, made the Trader Vic’s way. I particularly liked the tart flavor, and the Appleton 12 is a nice upgrade from the standard dark Jamaican rums you might find regularly on the menu. I also noticed that the garnish was more elaborate than what I have seen before in a Mai Tai. Todd went for a Three Dots & A Dash – absolutely delicious, and featuring one of the most potent & flavorful house-made falernums I’ve ever had.
For Round 2, Todd opted for a Jet Pilot, which came with a little bit of a show, and a whimsical and creative garnish. The drink itself was no slouch – it featured Hamilton 151 and Ron De Barrilito 2 Star, which was introduced to me at Lei Low in Houston. Great rums and spicy, complex, liqueurs and syrups equals a great drink!
I ordered their most popular drink, a Rapscallion original called “Have You Seen My Keys?” This name came about after a member of the bar staff, after drinking this new (then un-named) creation, combed the bar for 30 minutes in search of his keys, forgetting that they were in front of him the entire time. This drink also features a syrup called Chicha Morada, made with purple Peruvian corn. The drink had a creamy, almost milkshake-like texture…a revelation for me, and one of the best originals I’ve had anywhere.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the selection of drinks at Rapscallion, and by the care taken to curate the menu. Ravinder and his team have a great thing going – I can’t wait to see the expanded menu! Great job, guys!
2023 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206
Destination 2: Lounge Here
The Lounge Here is one of Dallas’ newest cocktail bars, and quickly became a highly acclaimed spot for cocktails, as well as food. Their menu, like Rapscallion’s, is also inspired by Southern cuisine. The bar strives to be an oasis in the heart of a big city, and certainly achieves this, with decor inspired by the Rat Pack-era, with small rustic touches. From the street, it could easily pass as a speakasy, with its minimalist facade.
Tiki night at Lounge Here is the brainchild of barman Brad Bowden. Every Thursday night, he can be found holding court behind the bar, slinging his popular tropical cocktails and talking about them to anyone who asks. The menu currently has four drink selections, and Brad informed me he is in the process of creating some new additions.
I was by myself for this go-round, so I am certain that at some point, I will return to try more stuff. This night, I started out with the Zombie, which I can describe as a delicious drink that combines flavors from both the 1934 Zombie, as well as the 1950 Zombie. It is super smooth, and served very attractively. I enjoyed every single sip!
Brad is great at taking original drink recipes and putting his own little twist on them. During my visit, as I was wondering what my next drink would be, he told me he was working on his version of the famous Planters’ Punch, which is what I ended up drinking. He made a special syrup for it, incorporating orange juice and cloves. A marvelous concoction – and quite strong, too!
I would like to return sometime soon – I am interested in trying out their original Pau Hana drink, and seeing what else Brad has up his sleeve for the new menu. I understand he is also working on a version of the Missionary’s Downfall, which is a favorite of mine. I am very excited to see how the tiki menu grows – they are off to a fine start!
9028 Garland Rd.
Dallas, TX 75218
If you find yourself in Dallas, wondering where you can get a decent tiki drink, I highly recommend both of these great spots. Rapscallion’s tiki night is every Tuesday night, and Lounge Here does tiki on Thursday nights. Pay them a visit, and support places like these, who are getting the drinks right!