Where to Drink Now

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 5 cozy underground bars

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 5 cozy underground bars

Scat Jazz Lounge
At Scat Jazz Lounge, the focus is on the music. Scat Jazz Lounge/Facebook
Thompson's Bookstore Fort Worth
It takes a secret password to get into Thompson's underground bar. Photo by Brandon Beville
Basement Bar Fort Worth
The Basement Bar is a popular end-of-night stop in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Photo by Jeremy Hallock
Scat Jazz Lounge
Thompson's Bookstore Fort Worth
Basement Bar Fort Worth

Falling temperatures and wintry wind chills can make street level travel feel downright unbearable. Escape the elements — or hide from visiting family members — at these cozy underground bars in Fort Worth. The venues are as unique as they are hard to find, from a just-opened English pub to a honky-tonk that claims to be the oldest bar in the city.

Scat Jazz
Located in the basement of the historic Woolworth building in Sundance Square, the dark and swanky lounge purposely mimics the tradition of cool New York City clubs, being underground and off the beaten path. The Art Deco-style hideaway does not have TVs nor neon beer signs because the focus here is on music. Regulars know to make reservations, when possible, and to keep the strong classic cocktails coming during the shows. Headliners — primarily jazz artists — start at 8:30 pm on Tuesdays and Sundays and at 9 pm Wednesday-Saturday. Local favorites like Leon Bridges and Luke Wade, as well as iconic performers such as Ellis Marsalis, have graced the stage, making the lounge a perfect first date stop for music lovers.

The Winchester Tavern
This new smoke-free, English-style pub comes from the owners of Durty Murphy's, Durty Crow, and The Local. It just opened in the former Paddy Red's Irish Pub space on the south end of downtown. The once-dark and dingy underground space has been completely updated with a fresh look. Throw back hefty European beers while watching soccer matches on all the TVs.

The Basement Bar
This Fort Worth Stockyards watering hole, which calls itself the "world's smallest honky-tonk," infamously served as the meeting spot for clients of the upstairs brothel more than 100 years ago. Tucked under the Star Café, the bar claims to be the oldest in Fort Worth. Today the dusty dive is known for its live music, busy dance floor, and maybe a ghost sighting or two. Come early for cheap drink specials (if you want to look like a local, order Shiner Bock) and stay late when the dancing picks up. It can be a rowdy stop for bachelor parties, out-of-town visitors, and revelers ending a night out in the Stockyards.

Thompson's Bookstore
Named for the historic building's former tenant, downtown’s only true craft cocktail lounge looks inconspicuous to the naked eye. But educated patrons know there are two entrances — one behind a bookshelf and the other via a sub-street level staircase outside that goes to the underground "RX bar." It's here that the bar’s look and feel changes from sophisticated and refined to downright quirky with its pharmacy-inspired atmosphere. When it’s open Wednesday through Saturday, a password is required for entry. Find it on Thompson's Facebook page and then settle in for literary-themed cocktails like the "Grapes of Wrath" worth their $10-plus price tags. Thompson's makes its own sodas, drinking vinegars, and infused liquors, offering classics with elevated twists.

Simply Fondue
This restaurant often is reserved for special occasion dining, but it's got a killer bar, too. It's nestled below the historic Woolworth building downtown, just a stone's throw from the Sundance Square Plaza and an easy walk from Bass Hall. Don't miss the martini menu, with its more than 100 different varieties, many of which can double as dessert. Think: Barcadi-based Banana Cream Pie 'tini, Sweet Tea 'tini, and Almond Joy 'tini. If you want a seasonal Egg Nog 'tini, this is your place. Not to be outshone by cocktails, the wine room boasts more than 1,000 selections.