Photo by Katie Shelton

I recently completed another revolution around the sun, an occasion for which I’m wholly not responsible yet congratulated nonetheless. 

Though I’m told I’m one year wiser, I don’t quite feel it, especially since I possess the palate of a college sorority girl. Never having deigned to taste cheap shit like Keystone Light, I tend to prefer inordinately saccharin drinks over the more sophisticated liquors. 

In honor of Cocktail Week, I attempted to broaden my horizons and cover four popular concoctions throughout history: a Victorian-era gin medley, a Prohibition-era cocktail, a tiki drink, and a margarita. In several ways, I failed — but I’ll get to that in a bit.

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My adventure through time began at Thompson’s (900 Houston St, 817-882-8003), a perfect place to step into the past, with its dim lighting, eclectic vintage furniture, and classic literature-themed menu. I’d read up on Britain’s Victorian era, when mixed drinks first appeared on the scene, and was ready to voyage. 

My friend and I must have arrived at high tide, because every barstool was occupied, each alcove littered with loungers. After briefly stalking a pair seemingly about to vacate their seats, the two of us instead squeezed into armchairs intimately situated opposite a middle-aged couple. 

The Saint. Photo by Christina Berger.

I had every intention of ordering a Gin Sling, a popular Victorian-era refreshment made with lemon juice and sugar — that is, until the woman across from us leaned in like she had a secret and recommended The Saint, consisting of gin and grapefruit juice. Thus, as my companion sipped a dry red, I savored the delightfully tangy and very much divine diversion, which balanced citrus and sweet at just the right levels.

Admittedly, the evening’s spirited excursion was not the only event on my mind. My best friend of 20 years was about to be proposed to, so my fellow time-traveler and I drained our glasses and relocated to Proper (409 W Magnolia Av, 817-984-1133), near where the soon-to-be-fiancées were dining. 

At Proper, we climbed through another portal into Prohibition. In retrospect, Thompson’s underground speakeasy, Rx, might have been a more fitting locale. Even so, Proper serves up a refined taproom experience, with a level of finesse and meticulous craftsmanship one surely would have encountered during Prohibition. Speed isn’t even a factor there – it’s all about quality and presentation. 

As we waited in giddy anticipation for updates on the engagement, I ordered a Fitzgerald, another refreshingly light gin mixture with a hint of cinnamon. My confidant, who had been nursing an Old Fashioned, declared that the Fitzgerald “tastes like potpourri but with alcohol,” and I honestly couldn’t argue. 

The Painkiller.
Photo by Katie Shelton.

Our next quantum leap led us to the Polynesian-inspired potions from the ’30s and ’40s. Unfortunately, Proper had just concluded its stint as a pop-up tiki bar, but the barman whipped up a Painkiller for me. Served in a snifter and garnished with a purple loose orchid, the fruity, exotic beverage fashioned with rum, coconut milk, and orange and pineapple juices sufficiently dulled my senses. 

If you’re extra and “can’t even” without the tiki mug, Bodega West 7th’s sparkler-producing Tiki Torch is quite literally lit.   

Once the newly engaged couple joined us, we celebrated, imbibed, and tittered as Tracy Chapman soulfully crooned “Give Me One Reason” — and again, I lost sight of my purpose. 

Taking a day to recover, I completed my mission at T&P Tavern (221 W Lancaster Av, 817-885-8878) on a toasty Sunday, when its margaritas are just $4. While salt-rimmed and enjoyable, the ’rita certainly wasn’t the best one I’ve had — and I confess I chose the location out of pure convenience, considering I already had plans to be there. 

I embarked upon this particular assignment with the taste buds — and, regrettably, the poor study habits — of a college student, indulging with reckless abandon and preparing little for my final paper. While my appetite for alcohol has become slightly more cosmopolitan, it’s true what they say: History repeats itself.