Long ago, near the pastoral hamlet of Westworth Village, there once was a bar called Froggy Bottom Beach Club. Nestled in the lee of a weedy levee on the north side of White Settlement Road, Froggy Bottom was the Fort Worth version of an ice house-style watering hole, the kind of bar you’d expect to find within walking distance of a gorgeous river in, say, San Marcos or Gruene. After a couple years, the bar changed hands and was renamed Froggy’s Boathouse. Or was its final moniker shortened to simply Froggy’s? (I don’t remember. I don’t think anyone will object to simply “Froggy’s.”)
I never disliked Froggy’s. I genuinely enjoy those kinds of bars –– I guess I’m a sucker for frosty schooners and rusty Texicana-drenched décor — but I kind of thought the name was sorry. I could ignore the optimistic call-out to TCU students, and, yes, I guess the building is arguably near a riverbottom. And, at one time, Froggy’s boasted a sand volleyball pit, so I suppose a case could even be made for “beachy.” But while the name might have been technically accurate, I thought it was kind of cheesy. Not surprisingly, I also think sand volleyball is really pretty cheesy.
Now, however, the former Froggy’s has been proverbially kissed by former country club chef Coby Baumann, magically transforming it into an attractive bistro serving West Texas cuisine (tacos, burgers, chili), craft cocktails made with Texas-distilled liquors, and a tap wall apportioned with only Texas-brewed beer. Named for a couple towns west of Fort Worth that nobody seems to have been to but everyone seems to have heard of, Thurber Mingus has traded in Froggy’s divey, neon-lit kitsch for a design scheme intended to appeal to millennials.
You read that right. In an interview with Dallas Culturemap last November, Baumann said he is gearing his new place “toward millennials” because “they’re the ones who are pushing the market forward.” If you’re old enough to resent people in their 20s, what “gearing toward millennials” means is that there is reclaimed wood on the back bar and craft beer on tap. It’s an Etsy.com shop turned into brick-and-mortar store. It’s Mason-jar chic.
Of course, coming from someone who graduated from high school when Korn and Limp Bizkit were selling out stadiums, my descriptors may sound pretty snide. Thurber Mingus is actually a really nice-looking place for a drink. The south-facing windows provide a ton of natural light and a not unpleasant view of the aforementioned weedy levee. The tables are pieced together from varnished scraps of lumber, and the chairs are chartreuse patio furniture. The effect is cheery. Outdoors, a covered wooden deck overlooks a patchy lawn leading to a small covered stage –– while live music was advertised, none appeared to be booked, but I’d guess that the acoustic guitars and accompanying tip jars (and maybe DJ turntables) will appear once the place gets its footing.
I didn’t come to eat, just drink. I ordered a Texas Fashioned — an Old Fashioned made with San Antonio’s Ranger Creek bourbon, locally grown oranges (I had no idea people grew oranges here), and a house-candied cherry. Interestingly, the bartender made the entire drink in a Mason jar, filling it with crushed ice and mixing it by screwing a lid on and shaking the jar before sliding my cocktail across the stainless steel bar. I thought that was pretty cool, though the first couple sips weren’t as tasty as the ones I took after I’d let the drink sit awhile.
While I nursed my beverage, three female millennial Horned Frogs came in for a late lunch, so I suppose Coby Baumann and company are hitting their mark. –– Steve Steward
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