Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets... Drunk?!

It’s already freakin’ hot and there’s no doubt that summer’s on the way, so “let the games begin!” This month I thought that I’d write about DFW destinations that allow you to do more than just sit and watch sports or listen to music while you drink; this month it’s all about fun and games.

Who hasn’t played beer pong, quarters, beer hunter, the Star Trek drinking game, or Edward 40 Hands (my personal favorite).

According to Dr. Rupert Thompson, the Orator of The University of Cambridge, man has been playing drinking games for centuries, and in fact, the earliest reference to drinking games in Western literature comes from Plato's Symposium The Drinking Party written in the 5th to 4th centuries BC! The Ancients definitely knew how to throw down and we proudly carry on that tradition today!

Here in the present, Big D takes drinking games to a new level and Dallas has a considerable number of venues that allow you to drink while enjoying sports, driving, electronic, or pneumatically powered thrills. What could be more fun than that? C’mon, let’s party like Plato… Consume!

Here I’ve listed some places that run the gamut from the simple pleasures in life to extreme thrill rides. Starting on the lower key end of the spectrum we have…

The Beauty Bar - 1924 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206

Girls (…and guys) can drop by for a manicure and a martini, while listening to DJ-spun tunes here at the “B.B.” An extremely cool, retro interior harkens back to a simpler time when cocktail hour was a thing of “Beauty”.

Barcadia - 1917 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75334

Right across the street from the beauty bar sits Barcadia, “Home of the Giant Connect 4 and Life Size Jenga, 24 beers on tap, a huge patio, HD Sports, killer bar food, vintage arcade games (like Asteroids, Joust, and Galaxa), and Skeeball”! A great place to play and watch the traffic pass by, on Henderson.

Speed Zone

11130 Malibu Dr. Dallas, TX 75229 – Who says drinking and driving don’t go well together? Well… OK, most people say that, and they would be right, but the gang over at Speed Zone (the old Malibu Grand Prix for us old-timers) have a different opinion. Get yer drink on and go race one of their dragsters or go-karts! And if you’re up to it, try one of the extreme thrill rides, play some miniature golf, or some video games.

Billiards Den – 580 W. Arapaho Rd. Suite 136 Richardson, TX 75080

This large club, just West of I-75 on Arapaho, in Richardson, has 23 pool tables, a 10-foot Snooker table, 8 dart boards, video games, poker tables, board games, lotsa of TVs, and even a Ping Pong table! League pool and darts, and tournaments abound here, and they have a full bar with a decent kitchen.

Whirly Ball – 147 E. Harwood Rd. Hurst, TX 76054

What the hell is Whirly Ball? Imagine a cross between basketball and lacrosse… with bumper cars… and beer. Originally on NW Hwy., this hell-on-wheels fun-fest has relocated to a new facility in the Mid-Cities. While it can be a bit pricy (check out their website for details), it’s great for bigger groups and team-building meetings. They also have laser tag. A location is now open in Plano too.

The Main Event

With locations in Grapevine, Plano, Frisco, Lewisville, and Ft. Worth, a Main Event is near almost everyone in the Metroplex. Bowling, billiards, laser tag, an arcade, Glow Golf, and rock climbing, mean that almost everyone can find something to keep them sousefully entertained as well.

300 Dallas – 3805 Belt Line Rd. Addison, TX 75001

“Bowling With a Twist” A light and video show play while you’re bowling on one of their 36 lanes, and add a cool, modern element of distraction, making strikes and spares more sparse. They also have a six-lane suite for private parties. Six professional-sized billiards tables, big screen TV’s, and a full-service bar add to a slightly more classy ambience than some of the other destinations on this list.

Dave and Busters

Dallas, Arlington, and Frisco locations make getting to a D&B’s a piece of cake. Play games, win tickets, and trade them for prizes. Funky interiors and copious amounts of games including billiards, shuffleboard, Super Shot Basketball, Skeeball, Golden Tee, and many, many more are waiting for you! Food and game packages are available.

While there have been rumors floating around that Six Flags over Texas is considering selling beer, it hasn’t happened yet, but for those who want to experience the drunken thrill of the 70 mph, 200 foot, 180 degree inversion loop on Mr. Freeze, we’ll keep crossing our fingers.


Get out and enjoy some food and drinks in an atmosphere of fun and frivolity; exercise your body and mind while intoxicating your body and mind, but most of all, have fun! However, if you do find yourself stuck at home, unable to join the festivities at one of these havens of libatious fun, here’s a link to a huge list of drinking games, to help pass the time safely at home…

Party on Wayne… car comin’!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beertender, I’ll have Another Martooni… What City Am I In Again?!? Hotel Bars: A Place of Refuge for the Weary Traveler

Even though the U.S. has had its warmest winter in recorded history, many of our Northern friends and family are looking for an excuse to get down here to the Texas Tropical Sun Belt to soak up a little of our warm Southern weather and hospitality. And while we may welcome them with open arms, we may not welcome them with open doors, so a hotel with a good bar is a welcome option, and you simply can’t have a great hotel without having a great hotel bar.

A hotel bar is a place of refuge for the weary traveler, where a highball and a barstool can be had for only a 300 foot commute back to bed. So, just what makes a good hotel bar? Well, Peter Jon Lindberg of Travel and Leisure Magazine says “It should be intimate in scale, yet capacious enough that you can always find a seat... The loudest sound shall be the shaking of ice. An excess of staff is actually a minus… and for God’s sake, no bouncers. A bartender should be the only thing standing between you and a perfect Manhattan.” I’m apparently a bit more laid back about my out of town (or in town) drinking and feel a little less stringent about the atmosphere and decorum of my hotel bars than Mr. Lindberg does.

The modern hotel came to prominence in the early 19th century, and as a foreshadowing of the luxury that awaited their guests, upon arrival, patrons were treated to a cocktail, a singular sign of hospitality. Consequently the modern hotel and the cocktail grew up together, in a manner of speaking.

Cocktail historian Derek Brown says that “Hotels were often luxurious and full of amenities, including top bartenders. It was the perfect environment to nurture the Golden Age of cocktails.” So it stands to reason that some of today’s most popular drinks were created at some of the more famous hotel bars, for instance…

Cosmopolitan – The Strand, South Beach, Miami

Margarita – Rancho La Gloria, Baja California, Mexico (if you believe some people…)

Martini – Knickerbocker Hotel, New York

Pina Colada – Caribe Hilton, Puerto Rico

Red Snapper (or Bloody Mary as it’s now more commonly known) – St. Regis, New York

Singapore Sling – Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Tequila Sunrise – Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix

A great hotel bar can be a destination itself. Prior to the rise of the popularity of night clubs, hotel bars were the places “to see and be seen” for the rich and famous. In fact, back in the day, if you had been having a drink at New York’s Gramercy Hotel you could have run into Babe Ruth; at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were regulars; the Ritz in Paris was a favorite with Ernest Hemmingway; at the Raffles Hotel bar in Singapore, you may have rubbed shoulders with Somerset Maugham of Rudyard Kipling; or if you were staying at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. you could have swapped tales with Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

Whatever your taste in hospitality-based libations is, be assured that there is a hotel bar to fit your bill here in the Metroplex. Whether you’re entertaining out-of-town guests, having a romantic weekend away from the house, or you’re just looking for some swanky new digs in which to down a few drinks, here are a few home-away-from-home options…

Bar Belmont – Belmont Hotel

Dallas Art-Deco at its finest. Housed in a vintage hotel with a great view of downtown from the balcony. A very laid-back and diverse crowd largely populated by hip locals. Try the signature Belmontini -

Bolla Bar – The Stonleigh

After a recent $36 million renovation, the Stonleigh’s vintage hotel bar was redesigned much to the dismay of the regulars, and while the new upscale Art-Deco inspired Bolla Bar has a different feel, the animal friendly hotel (and bar) has won back many of the old crowd.

Charlie Palmers – The Joule Hotel

Red velvet chairs, crystal chandeliers, designer dress-clad waitresses, and a custom-designed scent for the lounge. Modern meets classic (a la Moulin Rouge), where celebrities, athletes, and “A”-list locals in a wide range of ages, mix it up.

Dragonfly – Hotel ZaZa

Opulent, over the top, and just too-much… fun that is! Sure it’s a bit cliché, but what a great place to people watch. Eat some hot tamales from a bowl on the bar, have a Zatini, and if it’s too cool to swim, dance on the glass that’ll be covering the pool!

Five Sixty – Reunion Tower, Hyatt Regency

The only reason that I put this bar on the list is for the view. One of the best in Dallas, hands down. Wolfgang Puck put his name on the new restaurant that often gets mixed reviews, but an appetizer and a cocktail at the spinning bar in the big sphere, does have a certain charm.

The Library Bar – Warwick Melrose

A nice subtle remodeling last year updates the bar without taking away any of the classy charm. Leather and dark woods, a baby grand in one corner (and a pianist in the evenings… “Good night folks!”), and bookshelves lining the walls. Go with a classic martini or gibson here. One of my favorites.

The Mansion Bar – The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

Oil tycoons and sports team owners would be right at home here as were David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks, and recently Benjamin Bratt. Stellar bartenders and a good strong pour in an amazingly elegant setting. One of the top rated restaurants in the world is right here.

The Rattlesnake Bar – The Ritz-Carlton

Celebrity chef Dean Fearing is the man shakin’ snakes at this classy bar that fronts Fearing’s namesake restaurant. A truly great guy who has almost single-handedly put Southwestern cuisine into the upper echelons of haute cuisine. Backlit honey onyx and real (non-living) rattlers comprise the amazing bar. Try the $1,000 an ounce 1806 Pierre Ferrand Cognac.

The Rodeo Bar and Grill – The Adolphus

An interesting twist for a high-end hotel. Grab a barstool partner, Order a draft beer, throw some peanut shells on the floor, and order up a ribeye. Funky, kitschy Western/rodeo-themed décor. Not the best on the list, but a nice change of pace for the out-of-staters.

In the days of the British Empire, colonials could find a respite from the hot, dry, warring world in the paddle-fanned lobby of a grand hotel. The world always looks more civil through the bottom of a tall gin and tonic.

Travelers from all over the world meet in Dallas hotel bars, each with a dozen stories to tell. So, whether you’re visiting our fair city or you’re just stuck here in land-locked Dallas and are longing for the excitement and glamour of world travel, transport yourself for a while in one of Dallas’ best hotel bars.