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Photo by Christina Berger.
The Archibald, 902 Houston St, FW. 817-386-4762. 4pm-2am Mon-Fri, 12pm-2am Sat-Sun.
Basic Bar, 904 Houston St, FW. 817-864-8818. 3pm-2am Sun-Fri, 11am-2am Sat.
A basic sign befitting a basic bar. Basic bitches not included.
Photo by Christina Berger.

Last Friday night, I found myself in a place I’ve happily avoided for nearly a decade (oof) — pushing my way through a body-to-body crowd of drunk college kids at a bar.

As my two companions and I forcibly propelled ourselves through the circle jerk of frat boys (that’s the technical term, no?), nary a baby-faced bro in khakis and polo would budge. Elbows up, my comrade on the front line took up arms like a machete-wielding guide on a rainforest expedition as she braved the hordes and yanked us forward.

I bitterly brooded over what these 40 or so mini Brett Kavanaughs-in-training were even doing at The Archibald, besides destroying the vibe of an otherwise chill rooftop spot, but the guy who brought our pizza order to our patio perch assured us that the descent of the dipshits (my words, not his) isn’t a common occurrence there. Whew!

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Bevy of barely adults aside, The Archibald boasts an excellent rooftop patio. It’s flanked with taller buildings, so not only are movies projected onto the brick wall, but being on the roof makes you almost forget you’re in Fort Worth. There’s something breezily romantic about a rooftop retreat from the hustle and bustle of the streets below.

There’s something breezily romantic about a rooftop retreat from the hustle and bustle of streets below.
Photo by Christina Berger.

Situated among a row of several bars on Houston Street, The Archibald recently took up residence where Houston Street Bar operated for an impressive 17 years until last fall. The Archibald describes itself as an “elevated lounge and rooftop bar,” and my pun-addled brain can’t determine if that’s redundant.

Downstairs was completely empty when I arrived. That was only the second thing I noticed. The first was the logo on the building’s exterior, with an intersecting “T” and “A” to strategically resemble a corkscrew — or did I just fail some sort of Rorschach test?

Chronically late, I joined the squad upstairs as they were indulging in their first drinks, enjoying the final breath of bearable springtime weather. Before the invasion, people lazily reclined on a series of coral-cushioned bench seats or at high-top tables near the railing overlooking the street.

One friend was nursing a particularly decadent espresso martini, and I decided then and there what my first cocktail would be. We stuck almost exclusively to the specialty drinks, each one a whoppin’ $16. Look, I ain’t cheap, but I also ain’t made o’ money.

The creamy martini was like an affogato, an Italian dessert of gelato topped with a shot of espresso.
Photo by Christina Berger.

The espresso martini was well worth the stratospheric price tag. Where the robust coffee hit, the whipped foam softened the blow, and the artistically placed coffee beans atop the frosty coupe added that extra flair. So creamy was the ’tini that it reminded me of an affogato, an Italian dessert of gelato drowned in espresso.

The other in our trio who had planned on sticking to mocktails gave in to the Raspberry Cheesecake concoction — and wowza! If you like drinking your cheesecake ice cold, I highly recommend this milkshake-esque delight made with vodka, raspberry liqueur, and cream.

My next selection, The Don Pom, emerged in a plastic cup. Listen, if I pay more than 10 bucks for a cocktail, I sort of expect it to be presented to me on a silver platter — next to a sprig of grapes that a shirtless Fabio-type feeds me as I lounge on a chaise. Is that so much to ask?

Despite its humble receptacle, the well-balanced combination of Don Julio blanco tequila, agave nectar, and juices of pomegranate and lime was refreshing. The tequila took top billing, lightly accented with sweet and sour kicks.

Aside from its spirits, The Archibald makes a mean ’za. The Save-a-Pig, with spinach, mushrooms, black olives, red onions, bell peppers, and oregano — our group added pepperoni ’cause we’re classy — hit the spot. The pie was thin and tasty, but the crust, y’all! There’s a certain satisfaction one gets from crunching through a crispy, almost burnt pizza crust only to find a steamy, fluffy middle. Though we did not, in fact, save a pig, and the pizza wasn’t the tastiest I’ve ever had, that crust left a lasting impression.

“Is this Nickelback?”

I feigned shock as my twentysomething friend mistook Creed’s “Higher” playing at our next stop. Our party had made it out of The Archibald alive, our exit accelerated once a DJ began mixing throwbacks like “Laffy Taffy” and “Booty Wurk” at an insane volume. (Can you tell I’m over 30?) When we’d clocked a collusion of fratties stumbling toward Pete’s Piano Bar, our intended destination, we rerouted with a “why not?” to Basic Bar next door.

With a notably different playlist of alt-rock from the aughts, Basic Bar possessed little discerning personality — aside from a few touches like the iconic Rocky Horror Picture Show lips painted in gold by the restrooms and a “but first take a selfie” neon sign at the front. The phrases “It is what it is …” and “… unless it isn’t” on two refrigerated cases behind the bartop really captured the lackluster attitude of the place.

When I requested a menu, the bartender shrugged, so I ordered one of my go-tos: an Old Fashioned. The spirits blended with Buffalo Trace — I only know this because he asked if that was OK, and I, likewise, shrugged — were fairly strong, but for $12? Again, where’s my silver platter and wind machine-blown Fabio?

As we pushed back our barstools to leave, “Rockstar” queued up. I leaned to my friend with a teasing wink and said, “This is Nickelback.” The night, a strange whiplash of wildly opposing atmospheres, could not have ended on a more appropriately ridiculous note — but the company made it all worthwhile.

Situated among a row of several bars on Houston Street, The Archibald recently took up residence where Houston Street Bar operated for an impressive 17 years until last fall.
Photo by Christina Berger.
The Raspberry Cheesecake and espresso martini were strong and refreshing, and the touch of cream in each made all the difference.
Photo by Christina Berger.
Photo by Christina Berger.
The “elevated lounge” rooftop bar is true to its name with comfy seating, twinkly string lights, and city views.
Photo by Christina Berger.

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