“Your future is for the telling!,” a fortune-telling robot droned as I stepped off West 5th Street and into an unassuming door. As Zoltar’s chiding laughter followed me down the stairwell, I took in downtown Fort Worth’s newest watering hole, CURFEW.
Like Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine and Wild Acre Camp Bowie, CURFEW (located one floor beneath The Tower) had the misfortune of opening during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tavern enjoyed about a week of slinging beers and cocktails before public health mandates shuttered the 5,000-square-foot space. After recently making accommodations to serve tamales and other noshes, CURFEW is back.
A lone bartender was chatting up two boisterous young women when I stepped in. The decor is a bit dizzying. CURFEW bills itself as “reminiscent of juke joints and red-light districts.” The space blends several aesthetics. The center of the single large room is topped with around a dozen small disco balls. A nearby DJ booth presumably provides jams for the central dance floor on the weekends. Surrounding the center area are several long booths that appeared primed for bottle service. Some of the furniture seemed like curious but fun choices: a rickety upright piano, painted-over 1960s-era TV, and three embroidered tuxes hanging from a nearby chandelier. Overall, the vibe felt very West 7th-y.
My first drink, the Cigar Old Fashioned ($12), had a pungent tobacco scent (think: rolled quality cigar, not cigarette) and came with a single large ice cube. The bourbon cocktail was smooth and all-too-easy to polish off. The silky mouthfeel afforded by the piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) added a mild sweetness that didn’t detract from the oaky booze. Overall, the recipe (garnished with the obligatory orange peel) smoothed out the bourbon while staying true to the original intent of the classic recipe. Personally, I could have done without the tobacco, but it was a novel experience.
The bartender came by to see how I was enjoying the libation. They were out of the grilled sammies that I had skipped dinner for, he told me, but the Black Orchid ($12) was a worthy consolation prize. What happens when you mix Añejo tequila, cinnamon agave, squid ink, and pink Himalayan salt? Apparently, magic. The libation was ink-black. Squid ink, as I learned that evening, adds a bit of salinity and noir to any mixed drink, but the flavor profile was pleasantly dominated by cinnamon notes, mile agave sweetness, and a tinge of lime. If light floral drinks are your thing, and you don’t mind imbibing an excretion used to confound seagoing predators several leagues under the ocean, this drink is for you. Seriously, though, it was damn delicious.
The service that evening was impeccable. The bartender came to take and deliver my orders in between taking care of the handful of other customers who occupied the bar. CURFEW is the kind of place to take a group if you want an entertaining atmosphere and the option of spontaneous dancing. In other words, it’s a place to party and not where you’d go to unwind after work in the company of your thoughts and a tumbler of spirits. The space is more than worth a visit. Just make sure you’re rolling deep. Your future at CURFEW is for the telling, after all. — Edward Brown
350 W 5th St, FW. 817-386-7117.