A Cozy Cocktail ExperienceDec 01, 2017 ● By Dru Bickham
I made my way over to The Shops at Starwood to try this swanky place, and as soon as I walked in, I knew it was going to be a good night. The entire bar was dark, candlelit and a cozy escape from the chill outside. The crooning of a live acoustic artist was filling the space, and table after table of parties lined the windows — from couples on a date night to friends catching up.
Normally, I am not a bar-sitter. Awkward stools and barely enough space to maneuver your knife and fork without bumping into the person next to you? No thanks. But, this night, my date and I opted for bar seats so we could be served quicker, and none of these usual grievances applied. Comfortable stools with backs to lean against offered plenty of comfort and space. Even an hour into our evening, when the bar had filled up around us, the night was just as pleasant as if we had been sitting at one of the tables. The bonus of easy access to the bartender did not hurt either!
Our bartender quickly took our first drink order after we had some time to look over the extensive and eccentric drink menu. After all, the spot’s tagline is “classics with a creative pour,” so they had a lot to offer that I had never heard of before. I decided to order the Laters Baby drink, which turned out to be a pretty pink concoction made with Ketel One Vodka, strawberry shrub, orange blossom water and sparkling rosé. This was a sweet confection with just enough fizz and garnished with a ruby-red strawberry. My date went for the Acapulco Gold, a gin-based drink made with pear and ginger bitters, topped with a sprig of singed juniper, lit right in front of us. Every time you took a sip, you got a whiff of burnt juniper, which added a whole other level to the drinking experience.
Next, we looked over options for the Angel’s Share (Bottled in Bond’s name for appetizers). I was intrigued by the yucca nachos topped with authentic jerk chicken, but in the end, how could we argue against our instinct to order the Mac and Cheese Bites? Fried macaroni and cheese will have my heart any day of the week, especially if it is made with four different cheeses and includes bacon, which Bottled in Bond’s signature mac and cheese certainly does. Do not be fooled by the name, however. Mac and cheese “bites?” More like mac and cheese tennis-ball-sized glory. No complaints on the size of the appetizer, because with mac and cheese, more is always better, but my date and I had to restrain ourselves from filling up on this delicious display of culinary genius.
As we finished our appetizer, we ordered another round of drinks and a sprout salad. Now, as much as I would have loved to continue with another Laters Baby drink, I figured I do not go to specialty cocktail bars often, so I should probably branch out. One drink was calling me from its place on the menu, just because of its name: Shark Bait Oooh Ha Ha. Who does not love a good “Finding Nemo” reference? Made with Goslings Dark Rum, ginger beer and swimming with flavors of apple, vanilla and maple, this drink was perfect for a chilly fall evening. It was served in a delightful tiki glass, topped with apple slices sprinkled with nutmeg, which served as excellent post-drink snacks. But Bottled in Bond does not just serve specialty drinks. They have also mastered the art of the timeless classics. My date went for an Old Fashioned and was given an extensive list of whiskeys to choose from to customize his drink.
When my Bacon and Blue Sprout Salad came, my appetite had returned from the trip it had taken with the mac and cheese bites. Being a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, this one was a no-brainer for me. With bleu cheese, bacon and raisins throughout, flavors bounced off each other well and added a nice, fresh element to my evening. I particularly appreciated the fact that the salad had optional added proteins (chicken, steak or salmon), and I would definitely order it again with one of these add-ons for a lighter meal.
We placed our entrée order, which we split because of how full we were quickly and surprisingly becoming, and it was time for another drink as we sat and waited. I glanced over the menu, though I did not need to. Two drinks had been beckoning me all night, and it was time to decide between the two. The Huntington Julep or the Spring Buck. I had never had a julep, but I love mint and have always wanted to try the drink, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one. Ultimately, I am a mule-lover at heart, and I had to go with Bottled in Bond’s version of a Moscow Mule. The Spring Buck is made with strawberry shrub and rhubarb bitters, which add an interesting twist of flavors to your classic mule. Crisp, refreshing and just sweet enough, this was the perfect drink to end my night on … but I will be back for you, Huntington Julep. My date ordered another classic, a gin and tonic, and was pleased with its masterful make and cool, snappy finish.
Then, the Bourbon Burger came and was set down in front of us. The menu boasts quite a few tempting dishes, including a marinated pork chop served with roasted veggies and a cilantro mojo and braised beef short rib served with the kitchen’s yucca mash. Being a burger girl, I had to do what I had to do. Fried onion strings, Portobello mushrooms and a signature bourbon glaze? Say no more. This burger (actually, just half of this burger) filled me up more than I had ever expected to be at a cocktail bar, as did the crunchy and lightly salted yucca chips that we ordered with it.
When we got up to leave, all we could do was repeat to each other how much we wanted to come back for another date night. The service was attentive and kind, the atmosphere was all its own and completely enveloping, the food was decadent and filling and the drinks were artfully crafted and proudly served. As we stepped out of the cocktail parlor and back into the cold night air, I was planning my next visit to Bottled in Bond, complete with food and drink lineups. Make your way out to this cool spot. You will not want to miss a sip!
Learn more about Bottled in Bond Cocktail Parlour & Kitchen, located at 5285 Dallas Parkway, Suite 420, at bottledinbondparlour.com.