Bar at Bowie House, 3700 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW. 855-683-4092. 11am-11pm Sun-Thu, 11am-midnight Fri-Sat.
An impeccably dressed, silver-haired septuagenarian delicately sliced into her juicy, pink steak at the bar next to me as I attempted to lock eyes with any of the busy bartenders — a futile game of chicken that involved me bobbing about bug-eyed while the staff pretended I was invisible.
As a thirtysomething Funkytown local, there are few places here where I’ve ever sincerely felt out of place: the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo (I’m not a cowgirl by any stretch), most clubs on West 7th (I’m too old for that shit), occasionally my own skin, and now I can add Bowie House to that list.
It became obvious almost immediately that I’m not the target clientele for the recently opened Auberge Resorts Collection hotel on Camp Bowie Boulevard. The upscale-Western Bowie House features gorgeous modern artwork, forest-green velvet wallpaper, longhorn skulls as wall decor, Native American figurines and artifacts in display cases, trendy cowhide and leather furniture, and a glass-walled boutique hat shop that would make a country chap I know weak in the knees.
Despite the bougie-ness of the place and the damage it inflicted on my bank account, I can’t deny that the appetizers and cocktails were incredible. This high-class establishment is the kind of intimate place where you might take a date you want to impress, where you can confidently splurge and trust that the vittles will deliver. Would we call that “all hat and some cattle”?
Surprisingly for a Tuesday, the bar was bustling. A lot of the customers sported getups fit for the rodeo and likely stopped by the nearby watering hole just down the red brick road before moseyin’ on over to the main attractions at Dickies Arena. The throng also meant space was limited and service was a bit slow.
Incidentally, I spend the majority of my workweek about a block away from Bowie House, which is valet parking only, so my trauma-bonded co-workers and I meandered over on foot (our horses were tied up) for happy hour. After a full lap around the expansive interior, we set up in the only open nook near the back wall. The four of us squatted beneath a massive mural of a lively city scene created entirely out of packing tape while server after server whooshed by us without a glance.
What could have put a real damper on the evening was quickly forgotten when the munchies and mixed drinks finally emerged. Surrounded by a crowd of old-money cowpokes and an overly busy yet cordial staff, my more casually dressed crew drooled over almost everything we ordered.
If Fort Worth is “where the West begins,” then Bowie House is “where the West gets lit.” Between myself and my guests, we nearly covered the signature cocktail page of the menu. By the second drink, I was feelin’ it in my cheeks.
The expertly crafted Come Hell or High Water featured TX Bourbon, 10-year Laphroaig malt scotch whisky, maple syrup, vermouth, lemon, rhubarb, and egg foam. Presented in a proper whisky glass, this tipple was strong, smoky, and subtly sweet.
Comparatively, the spicy Better the Devil You Know with reposado tequila, Cointreau, passion fruit, orange, and chile syrup gave such an initial kick that it elicited a cough or two. The smooth Damn Fine Ranch Water of tequila blanco was served in a Topo Chico bottle for added flair, while the Ramblin’ Mr. Crosby was a gussied-up version of a Pimm’s Cup with crème de pamplemousse (French for “grapefruit”) and an optional Champagne float. The Champagne cut the slight bitterness of the hootch and, in my opinion, improved the overall taste.
The whole group agreed that the Knotty Mane, a concoction of cold brew, Spanish Licor 43, and orange, was the superior spirit of the night. That’s going on my list to experiment with at home.
To straighten our impending staggers, the gals and I indulged in warm, fluffy house fries dipped in a hat-tippin’ garlic aioli. They were followed by Lil Smokies, jalapeño-cheddar-Wagyu sausages with delectably oily chimichurri sauce. If Bowie House does one thing well (aside from the booze), it’s their finger-lickin’ sauces. My only qualm with the apps was the small portion sizes. I thought everything was bigger in Texas?
For something sweet to go with the savory, we chose the Hummingbird layer cake and chocolate pecan pie from a magical (perhaps even metaphorical) “pie cart.” The former was a kind of carrot cake but with pineapple instead and served à la mode with housemade pineapple sorbet. The latter featured a rich, dark chocolate mousse filling. Both wowed.
Unlike many of my fellow Bowie House patrons, I neglected to pair the experience with a trip to the rodeo. Though I missed out on mutton bustin’, I more than made up for that with a gut-bustin’ good time — with good folk and hella-good hootch, to boot. Wrangle a few pals willing to bend an elbow with you, and you’re sure to have a hoot and a holler. Cheers, y’all.