The pungent odor of nail polish lingered as my party and I exited the parking garage. Our sights set on WXYZ Bar, we stepped onto West 3rd Street and inhaled the warm air of the faux-spring day succeeding a week of temperatures orbiting freezing.
The alphabet soup bar resides on the ground floor of Aloft, a boutique hotel chain. Aloft seems like it got lost on its way to Dallas. Boxy and modern, the glass and concrete edifice stands out against the surrounding red brick buildings.
As we straddled the chestnut leather barstools, a pair of affable barmen clad in plaid button-downs greeted us. They looked more like coffee shop baristas than mixologists but matched the venue. With “wxyz” in neon lights and artsy doodles adorning the wall of spirits, not to mention succulents in geometric pots decorating the bartop, the taproom exudes an upscale hipster vibe.
The cocktails’ names, like Sundance Chilton and Magnolia Mule, allude to popular local spots,, but the menu tries too hard, negating the place’s cool factor. I purposefully avoided the pandering drinks and instead indulged in Pear Tree — pear vodka, elderflower “liquor,” and cinnamon. Glossing over the typo, I savored the initial lip-puckering tang, followed by a swell of sweet.
Upon re-skimming the menu, I caught the latter part of my beverage’s description, which alleged the flavors “create a symphony of taste only rivaled by the one you will experience at Bass Hall.” So much for my silent rebellion.
Beyond the counter, we explored the vast interior decked with trendy retro and mid-century modern furniture, some sprinkled with Connect Four and Jenga. We decided to hold out for the then-occupied pool table. Hefty sliding windows stood ajar, welcoming the balmy breeze. Low background music, from indie rock to languid techno best experienced on psychedelics, created an exceedingly chill atmosphere.
The decor echoed this. With muted cool hues and heather floors juxtaposed with splashes of dazzling color, it felt like a cozy museum lobby. Charcoal walls flanked the concrete rear wall — loudly accented by Pepto Bismol pink and covered in shimmery, liquid-like art. We settled into a royal blue velvet couch beneath the gallery, bypassing glossy poufs coated in vintage comics. Tucking myself into the corner of the sofa, I lounged and sipped, observing patrons filtering through.
Perhaps a product of its landlord, WXYZ adopted the hotel’s rhythm. Streams of commuters trickled in and out of the drinkery all night, staying for mere moments before moving on to their next locale. This made the people-watching, as Ferris Bueller would say, choice. At one point, the counter briefly brimmed with twentysomethings in attire best described as “posh granola” perched hip-to-hip atop the stools, leaving a wealth of seats empty. In contrast, a lone sexagenarian reclined and read a hardcover for hours, oblivious to all else — even the drunken, statuesque broads in backless mini dresses clinging to a squat, suspendered man. The women swayed and chortled as real-life George Costanza offered a fortifying shoulder. The trio left soon after they’d arrived. WXYZ didn’t seem like their scene.
“I think that’s your drink,” my friend gawked, pointing. I happily succumbed to the siren call of Panther City Punch, whose citrus-garnished turquoise waves lured me into a daydream of lolling about on a tropical beach — diverting me from my recent annihilation in pool. My attempts to line up my shots had been in vain. Wrong kind of shots, I guess.
As the evening wound down, I realized I didn’t know my host’s name. “WXYZ Bar”? “WXYZ”? Either way, the place deserves props for presentation. Our craft brews arrived in frosty pint glasses, and our flatbread was even served on a vinyl album cover.
WXYZ’s quintessentially millennial ambiance, somehow simultaneously aloof and inviting, begs you to “do it for the ’Gram.” So do it. Make your social media followers jealous.
334 W 3rd St.