Where to drink

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 6 best new bars for January

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 6 best new bars for January

Casual Encounter Toro Toro bar
Just a casual cocktail at Toro Toro. Photo courtesy of Toro Toro
38 & Vine
38 & Vine has looked into the future, and the future is serve-yourself. Photo by Nancy Farrar
The Shot Cellar
Shots for everyone at The Shot Cellar. Facebook/TheShotCellar
Casual Encounter Toro Toro bar
38 & Vine
The Shot Cellar

With the New Year comes a slew of new bars around town, all worth visiting for something unique. From cocktails presented in smoked-filled chambers to wine dispensed via a machine, watering holes have changed a bit in the new decade. One new bar is dedicated to shots alone, while another draws patrons with more than 100 arcade games. With so many novel niceties and new features, these bars give new reason to toast to 2020.

Southside Cellar
Is it a beer and wine retail shop, or a taproom with hefty pours of craft brew? Both. The brand new beer joint in the South Main Street district doubles a cozy stop for a glass of beer or wine thanks to living room-like seating, or a convenient place to pick up a wide array wine and beers by the bottle, can, and soon, growler or crowler. The stellar tap list runs 30 beers deep and includes mostly local selections. But the shelves and refrigerated cases are stocked with everything from San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company IPA to Miller High Life. Owner and operator Shawn Howell has a lengthy tenure working in the Fort Worth bar industry, and this his first solo project.

38 & Vine
Located in the Foundry District on Carroll Street, the innovative wine bar lets patrons serve themselves from a 25-foot wall of wine dispensers that pour 1-ounce, 3-ounce or 6-ounce tastes. There are more than 40 wines from around the world available, so guests can experience a wide variety (some rare) without committing to an entire bottle. Simply swipe your credit card to receive a “wine card” used to access the sips. The 1,440-square-foot tasting room offers modern and contemporary furnishings with touches of dark wood, natural light, and Victorian seating. Bites like charcuterie boards, hummus plates, and salads are provided by Foundry District neighbor Meyer & Sage, and cakes, pies, and chocolates come from Gold Ribbon Confections in Arlington.

The Shot Cellar
Why waste time sipping cocktails? At this busy new Foch Street bar, drinks are meant to go directly down the hatch. The menu features more than 200 shots, from the Anti-Freeze, made with citrus vodka, to the Yeezus, combining Jägermeister and Johnny Walker. Get fancy with a shot bomb, which comes with a smaller glass prepped to drop into a larger one and intended to shoot immediately. Those who are adventurous — or simply have a hard time with decisions — will appreciate the shot wheel; just spin and it’ll land on a shot selection for you. Don’t miss the chambongs — the hottest new drinking vessel. The V-shaped glass flutes comes with spout for “bonging.” Don’t expect to snag a seat unless arriving early. The bar fills quickly late at night, and there are a just a handful of cocktail tables and four-tops amid the brick walls and graffiti-inspired artwork.

Toro Toro
It’s the hottest new hotel-restaurant bar in downtown — no bull. The Pan Latin steakhouse and lounge made its Texas debut in November inside the lobby of The Worthington Renaissance, drawing attention for its show-stopping interior design, wood-grilled steaks, and stunning cocktails. Snag a spot at the long, sweeping bar and order the Casual Encounter — although there is nothing “casual” about the TX Bourbon concoction and its head-turning presentation. Combined with orange bitters and an Italian aperitif, the smooth cocktail is bestowed in a glass box filled with tantalizing plumes of cherry wood smoke that ooze out upon opening. Or try the refreshing Painkiller, shaken with two kinds of premium rum and coconut cream; or the Mercado Margarita, topped with bright pink hibiscus rose foam. With high ceilings and elements of metal, stone, and leather, the lustrous space feels like it could be in Manhattan, but longhorn artwork that hangs from the ceiling reminds patrons they’re in the heart of Cowtown.

Two Brothers Winery
Brand new in Old Town Keller and owned and operated by brothers Brian and Eddie Kirkwood, the wine bar produces its own wine on-site using grapes from California. Selections change frequently, but patrons can expect a handful of standard whites like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, along with a few red blends. Sweet wine lovers, in particular, will be happy with the lengthy list of selections, including wines flavored with peach, strawberry, raspberry, and apple. The brightly-lit tasting room offers cocktail and table seating, as well as a flat-screen TV for game-watching. Wines are available by the glass or bottle, or by the flight, the latter of which comes with a souvenir glass.

Free Play Fort Worth
The new vintage arcade wonderland is a gamer’s heaven with more than 100 retro games. Play is unlimited, although not quite “free,” as there’s an $11 admission fee for access to the arcade. But there’s no admission to sit and sip one of the venue’s patios, the crown jewel of which encompasses more than 3,000 square feet on the rooftop, boasting its own bar and prime views of the downtown skyline. Located in the former Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge on West Magnolia Avenue, Free Play opened quietly in early December. Expect a lengthy beer list (more than 120 selections) along with cider, wine, and a full bar. A food menu offers appetizers, sandwiches and flatbreads for those needing nourishment in between gaming sessions.