I didn’t expect to like The Shot Cellar (931 Foch St, 817-386-3561). A gimmicky liquor emporium in a congested part of town known for TCU-kid revelry and difficult parking? It did not sound like the perfect assignment. But on my recent evening excursion to Foch Street just off West 7th, a part of town I’d come to terms with having aged out of several years ago, all of my preconceived notions turned out to be way off base. The area is decidedly less chaotic before 9pm, and my spouse, our designated driver, and I miraculously found parking in the small lot reserved for the six-week-old drinkery and its Foch Street Warehouse neighbors. That was one complaint already debunked, and we hadn’t even reached our destination.
Upon entering the narrow but airy interior of the bar, I could tell I had incorrectly prejudged the place. Absent were the college decor, bro-y bartenders, and sticky RumChata and Fireball-stained bar I had anticipated. Instead, we were met with rustic charm in the form of whiskey barrel high-top tables, an arched brick ceiling mimicking that of an actual cellar, and an impressive lacquered wood bar. Three giant framed graffiti-style paintings on the wall opposite the bar brought playfulness to the space. An eclectic playlist of mid-2000s tunes was blaring a little too loudly for my thirtysomething-year-old ears, but it was a mild evening and the door was open, so I imagine the music was acting as a sort of siren call to the other early birds wandering the area. A few hipsters sat at the far end of the bar sipping cans of beer. The Shot Cellar continued to surprise.
With a menu of more than 200 “hand-crafted” shots (what shot isn’t “crafted” by hand, I wonder?), the Shot Cellar offers something for everyone and every occasion, just presented in efficient 1.5-ounce packages. The efficiency factor is a good thought, but in practice it made for some awkward downtime. If we didn’t have a workplace Christmas party to attend that night, I would’ve ordered a mixed drink or a beer to sip between shot selections. Once we downed our first picks, a Bombero (mango habanero whiskey and pineapple juice) for me and a Ghost Phuck (ghost pepper tequila and watermelon and passion fruit juices) for my drinking buddy, it felt like we were loitering until we were ready for another. Maybe we should have taken our time instead of knocking them back in one gulp — both were tasty enough to be savored.
Thankfully, a group arrived soon after us to provide some entertainment by spinning the shot wheel, a The Price Is Right-style wheel colorfully adorned with the names of shots for the adventurous or just indecisive imbiber. The patrons gamely downed whatever the wheel brought forth, prompting my spouse to take it for a spin on his next round, landing on a very basic “squirter” shot of Deep Eddy Lemon vodka with a splash of Sprite. He was visibly relieved to have avoided some of the wheel’s more daring selections, such as the Terminator (151 Rum and Rumple Minze) and the Killer Bee (Jägermeister and Jack Daniel’s Honey).
I decided to go all in on my Christmas party pre-game with a bonkers shot concocted by our very own bartender: the Fantasma Bomb. Presenting me with a pint glass half-filled with sparkling wine and a single shot of fiery ghost pepper tequila, the barkeep instructed me to drop — not pour, never pour! — the tequila, glass and all, into the pint glass and chug. Before I could talk myself out of it, I took the plunge, and the result was a surprisingly mild, fizzy flavor — no lime and salt chaser needed.
Sufficiently buzzed and equipped for awkward small talk with coworkers, we headed out of the Shot Cellar feeling guilty about our unfair presumptions. I wonder if we’d have given it more of a chance at the outset had it opened on the Near Southside, where it feels like it belongs. Instead, I’m happy to once again have a destination in the West 7th area where I know I can still hang with the best of ’em — as long as it’s before 9pm.
The Shot Cellar
931 Foch St, FW.