When XTO abandoned their downtown digs for Houston between 2017 and 2020, the energy giant vacated six of its seven buildings. Along with relocating some 1,600 workers, this struck a significant blow to downtown’s local economy. One building that became available was Farmers and Mechanics. Originally constructed in 1921, the Art Deco gem was once the tallest building downtown at 24 stories. This architectural triumph didn’t sit empty for long.
A 2016 report from Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. observed a strong need for new hotels downtown as there was a consistent occupancy rate of approximately 70%, faring much higher than other cities in the state. Since the study, downtown has seen the construction of Aloft, AC Hotel, and The Sinclair, among others. And the Kimpton hotel brand would soon have its footprint downtown thanks to Memphis-based developer and commercial real estate operators Development Services Group.
After a multi-year renovation of Farmers and Mechanics, Kimpton Harper began welcoming guests in early June. Adjacent to the lobby downstairs is a polished bar located in the Italian fine dining eatery iL MODO, which translates to “the way,” but to find the sleek cocktail bar Refinery 714, you will have to go another way. And that way is up.
Encompassing one half of a former 24th-floor penthouse with incredible views of downtown and beyond (Dallas, that you in the distance?), we finally have another drinkery located well above street level that provides guests with an, um, elevated experience typical of cities such as New York and Chicago. While it sounds upscale, the design is not over the top and is right in line with current modern/contemporary elements. Think more living room than lounge. Perfect for a fancy date night, yes, but also great for grabbing a drink after work. And let’s not forget, it’s still a hotel that is built for the comfort of travelers.
The drinks here are as unique as the space. Usual suspects like a Boulevardier and Sazerac make an appearance on Refinery 714’s short yet potent list, but on a recent visit, the house creations stood out. The pink-tinted Juanita’s Revenge (tequila, grenadine, and triple sec) was such a nice sipper, we pitied the fool who must have brought such hurt to poor Juanita. An oxymoron in a glass if there ever was one.
Based on name alone, one would expect The Martinez to be another tequila-laden drink, but gin is the main sauce here, accompanied by sweet vermouth, Luxardo, and bitters for a surprisingly distinguished beverage. Another gin cocktail, Laid Back, builds upon the main ingredient’s floral notes with the sweetness of honey syrup, tartness of grapefruit juice, then a couple dashes of absinthe for a hint of botanicals.
Refinery 714’s current list of seasonal drinks includes a bourbon and maple syrup-laced Autumn Hot Toddy, a cold brew featuring local distillery Blackland Rye and their pecan bourbon, and a pumpkin spice drink (because why not?) with dark rum.
With the days shortening, this is a prime location to experience early sunsets and late-night buzzes. Perhaps one evening you’ll find a jazz band scattering notes or maybe a DJ weaving loungy vibes. Have a seat at the marbled bar or melt into one of the couches. Either way, Refinery 714 is a befitting perch for defying gravity.