The Local Arrives
I’m never likely to turn my hand to raising a barn or building a trebuchet, so for the most part, I don’t care that I can’t tell beech from birch. However, being able to say what kind of wood went into the countertops and tables of bars would be useful for my line of work (“bar appreciator” is probably what I’d write on a resumé), at least for providing better descriptions than “blond wood.”
Thinking back, what I probably mean to say every time I say “blond” in relation to wood is “unstained,” but whether it’s high-quality hardwood or recycled pallets, the natural wood look is a signifier of the mid- … what are in we now? “the teens”? Anyway, in the way that sunken living rooms, chunky orange plastic, Abba, and the chalky white remnants of huge rails of cocaine are hallmarks of ’70s design, a muted, rustic look is popular among 2014 bars. Including The Local. There’s wood on the walls.
Admittedly, that association is about a thin as “oak” veneer on a ’76 Country Squire, and, frankly, there is very little that’s rustic about this place. Sure, the dark hardwood liquor shelves, recycled wood cocktail tables, and (here we go again) blond bartop make The Local sound like the kind of upscale watering hole you’d open near a CEO’s deer lease. On the other hand, the exposed brick and blown-up celebrity photos affixed to the ceiling give the place an urban loft vibe. There are more than 20 beers on tap, and Texas is represented well. (Before you ask, yes, The Local has Blood and Honey and Fireman’s 4. Plus the full complement of Deep Eddy vodkas.)
With those elements, The Local hits all the marks of what I like to think of as a New Bar in Fort Worth, though it seems to be missing one major component –– specialty cocktails. The apparent lack of a mixologist-created drink menu didn’t bother me in the slightest, though. If I had to guess, The Local, while an inviting spot to sit down and enjoy a drink or three, seems to be built for speed. Leave the $13 Manhattans for someone and someplace else. At a joint like this, you’ll just want to power down Coors Lights. There’s an outdoor patio with its own bar, which means lots of other Coors Light drinkers will probably get the same idea as soon as the weather warms up.
I liked The Local enough to go back for a second drink on a different night, though I have qualms. For one thing, why is there an Elvgen-esque pinup mural? Yes, it’s of a buxom babe shooting pool, and, yes, it’s near the pool table, but it comes across (to me, anyway) as kind of out of place. The aforementioned celebrity black-and-whites are backlit and presumably interesting, but they’re on the ceiling, so you have to look directly up to look at them. From my vantage point, at the bar, I was confident one was of Neil Young, but I didn’t want to be the dweeb who got up from his seat and walked around craning his neck. The Johnny Carson portrait on the wall near the bathrooms is pretty rad, though. Remember Johnny Carson? You may have read about him from the answer side of a Trivial Pursuit card or in an article about Jay Leno’s last show.
Then there was the music, and, boy, did it stink. The chief culprit? The Local’s internet jukebox. The pros and cons of an internet juke are the subject of another column, but where I tend bar, we have an old fashioned disc player, and for that I am eternally grateful. (Internet jukes are a double-edged sword. If you want to hear Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” or “Darlene” by Led Zeppelin, the internet juke is your friend. If you do not want to hear Breaking Benjamin or Josh Abbot, it’s the primary antagonist in your movie about trying to have a good time.)
Still, the young women making drinks were attentive, attractive, and overwhelmingly (wait for it) blonde, for which I have no complaints. And when spring rolls around, I’ll probably make some not-so-vivid memories of a completely contemporary bar. –– Steve Steward
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