At Midnight Rambler, in the basement of downtown's Joule Hotel, thoughtfully conceived drinks like the Royal Tannenbaum made it one of DFW's best.

At Midnight Rambler, in the basement of downtown's Joule Hotel, thoughtfully conceived drinks like the Royal Tannenbaum made it one of DFW's best.

Marc Ramirez

Slow down, Dallas; you move too fast. A serious imbiber can barely keep pace with the onslaught of on-point Old Fashioneds. As the quality of craft-cocktails has grown throughout the area, so too has the quantity; this year brought several new notable additions to the already thriving scene, among them Madrina in the Park Cities; TBD Kitchen in Castle Hills; The Theodore at North Park; Thompson's in Fort Worth; and in Deep Ellum, Armoury D.E. and High and Tight.

In their best forms, these spots echo - or, increasingly, are part of - great restaurants, with not only great drinks but efficient, attentive and consistent service; fresh ingredients that change with the passing seasons; an energizing and comfortable atmosphere; an ability to cater to tastes simple and complex; and (of course) a savvy and innovative staff behind the bar.

Here, in alphabetical order, were my favorite 10 spots of 2015.

Armoury's D.E.'s wildly refreshing Vulgar Display of Sour: Gin, the French apertif wine Byrrh, lime, honey, cilantro, celery, cucumber and paprika.

Armoury's D.E.'s wildly refreshing Vulgar Display of Sour: Gin, the French apertif wine Byrrh, lime, honey, cilantro, celery, cucumber and paprika.

Marc Ramirez

ARMOURY D.E., Deep Ellum

This little stretch of Elm from Malcolm X to Good-Latimer is now a riot of craft drinking worthy of a weekend night's throwdown, with stone's-throw neighbors including High and Tight, Brick and Bones and Twenty Seven. Armoury D.E. - the letters stand for Deep Ellum - was launched by a group of longtime drink-slingers who honed their skillz largely beyond the spotlight. Its Dallas-themed house cocktails (think Lone Gunman, or Bonnie and Clyde), as with the eclectic, Hungarian-influenced cuisine, aren't shy about testing your palate; consider the Last Caress, which melds Hungarian bittersweet Zwack (Unicum) with the even more bitter Amaro Angostura, Old Overholt Rye, orgeat, lemon and egg white. Armoury's vibe is art warehouse; the staff is solid; the result is legit.

In the inner caverns of Henry's Majestic lies a badass beverage hideaway, where bartenders like Hector Zavala work their cocktail magic.

In the inner caverns of Henry's Majestic lies a badass beverage hideaway, where bartenders like Hector Zavala work their cocktail magic.

Marc Ramirez

ATWATER ALLEY, Knox-Henderson

It was about a year ago that Henry's Majestic, at this oft-challenged location on McKinney in Knox-Henderson, unveiled the pearl buried deep with its oyster depths. Atwater Alley - named for the nondescript thoroughfare on which it is accessed - is a garage-band extension of Alex Fletcher's bar program at Henry's, a dimly lit speakeasy swathed in senatorial wood, with a minimal drink list that lets bartenders like Hector Zavala, Luis Sifuentes and Justin Payne run wild with classic variations. Open Thursday through Saturday, it's a place worth taking the path less traveled by.

Black Swan, one of Dallas-Fort Worth's early and enduring craft-cocktail joints, is a menu-less workshop for Gabe Sanchez and his crew.

Black Swan, one of Dallas-Fort Worth's early and enduring craft-cocktail joints, is a menu-less workshop for Gabe Sanchez and his crew.

Marc Ramirez

BLACK SWAN SALOON, Deep Ellum

Black Swan is the craft-cocktail lover's dive bar, where Gabe Sanchez and his trusty sidekicks make it look easy, firing volleys of classic and original libations at the eager Deep Ellum hordes. Another of DFW's early craft-cocktail spots, the Swan's speakeasy vibe is captured in the image of Clint Eastwood above the back bar - anonymous and enigmatic, rough around the edges, coolly efficient. No drink list here; just tell Sanchez what you'd like. Chances are he already knows.

Bolsa's excellent Peruvian Botanist -- pisco, fennel, sweet pepper, lime and dill -- was a perfect example of the bar program's focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Bolsa's excellent Peruvian Botanist -- pisco, fennel, sweet pepper, lime and dill -- was a perfect example of the bar program's focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Marc Ramirez

BOLSA, Oak Cliff

This Bishop Arts stalwart was among Dallas' early craft-cocktail standard bearers, and it hasn't let up under Spencer Shelton -- who took over as bar manager once Kyle Hilla left for The Theodore (owned by the same group) -- and agave-spirit fan Marcos Hernandez. With a culture of creativity and an adventurous, seasonal menu - for instance, a daiquiri variation featuring goat-milk yogurt syrup or a drink with blended nopales - it's a well-honed, late-night south-side outpost for a neighborhood clientele seeking last-stop refuge.

Midnight Rambler: Among the city's most beautiful and comfortable bar spaces, it's also a subterranean haven for those seeking great cocktails.

Midnight Rambler: Among the city's most beautiful and comfortable bar spaces, it's also a subterranean haven for those seeking great cocktails.

Marc Ramirez

MIDNIGHT RAMBLER, downtown Dallas

To step into the subterranean depths of Midnight Rambler is to be transported; the escapist luxury den in the basement of Dallas' Joule Hotel, which opened in October 2014, is lavishly and strategically designed to handle the ebbs and flows of a hotel, downtown and weekend clientele. More than that, it's a model of efficiency, whose thoughtfully crafted drinks reflect co-owner Chad Solomon's behind-the-scenes mad science; witness the recently unveiled winter menu, with drinks like the alpine-woodland-scented, aquavit-accented Pinetop Perker and cranberry-festive Royal Tannenbaum reflecting not typical allspice and cinnamon but the ingredients of Christmas-y Scandinavian climates. The drinks here are pricer than most -- it's in the Joule, after all -- but the experience is worth the occasional splurge.

At Parliament, pioneering bar man Eddie "Lucky" Campbell puts the finishing touches on a trio of Ramos Gin Fizzes. 

At Parliament, pioneering bar man Eddie "Lucky" Campbell puts the finishing touches on a trio of Ramos Gin Fizzes. 

Marc Ramirez

PARLIAMENT, Uptown

Eddie "Lucky" Campbell's hideaway haunt, pocketed within Uptown residential maze, has just about everything going for it - an intimate and elegantly appointed space coddling Parliament's horseshoe-shaped bar, a top-notch craft posse and Campbell's extensive (some might say excessive) and heartfelt menu that never even has to be consulted given the talent behind the stick. With clever but subtle innovations, a trickle-down culture of customer care and a drop-in atmosphere that can go from chill to party in minutes, Parliament is a world-class bar with dive-bar comfort, and that's a pretty nifty trick to pull off.

At The Standard Pour, lead barman Armando Guillen -- that's his A Latino's Legacy cocktail above -- and his crew rain cocktail manna upon the Uptown masses.

At The Standard Pour, lead barman Armando Guillen -- that's his A Latino's Legacy cocktail above -- and his crew rain cocktail manna upon the Uptown masses.

Marc Ramirez

THE STANDARD POUR, Uptown

The classic atmosphere here never gets old. Brian McCullough's McKinney Avenue landmark, just up the street from Parliament, is a craft-cocktail battleship - built to weather weekend barrages of bar hoppers but equally effective quietly docked on a Tuesday eve. With lead barman Christian Armando - whose A Latino's Legacy cocktail made him a regional winner in Disaronno national competition at the helm, this place can do it all, whether it's machine-gunning Moscow Mules or tilting a dram of fine Scotch. Accented by Tania Lazarus' creative cocktail chalk art, a roomy space and the occasional party or two, TSP is, like Tate's down the street, a cocktail oasis in the midst of Miller-Lite mayhem.

It was there, and then it was gone: Carlo Biddle's Tippling Lair was an underground craft-cocktail nirvana that few were able to reach.

It was there, and then it was gone: Carlo Biddle's Tippling Lair was an underground craft-cocktail nirvana that few were able to reach.

Marc Ramirez

TIPPLING LAIR, Design District

If you blinked, you missed it. It's a stretch to even put this on the list, given that it is no more - but for those who got to enjoy Carlo Biddle's diamond-in-the-rust speakeasy during its five-week run, it was a veritable cocktail Shangri-La. Buried deep in the bowels of the otherwise negligible Taboo Lounge, on a otherwise negligible stretch of Riverfront Avenue, it was, until Biddle's unfortunate departure in mid-December, a Soho-style showcase for this talented up-and-comer's well-rounded skills and blue-collar workmanship. It was as close as Dallas has had to anything resembling bar man Olaf Hermel's mad-scientist cocktail lab on the upper floor of San Antonio's Blue Box, another heyday that has since come and gone.

Quality consistency: One reason the appropriately named Usual is worth a usual stop in Fort Worth. 

Quality consistency: One reason the appropriately named Usual is worth a usual stop in Fort Worth. 

Marc Ramirez

THE USUAL, Fort Worth

While the cheeky house drink menu seems to have barely changed in years, the bartenders at this seemingly never-understaffed Magnolia Avenue haven are more than handy with the palette of potions behind the bar. But more than anything, what impresses about The Usual - among Dallas-Fort Worth's pioneering craft-cocktail joints - is that in the four years I've been going there, I have never had a drink that I wouldn't order again, which is something I can't say about that many places.

Victor Tangos' excellent Yu-Kuza, a loyalty-worthy mix of yuzu-infused gin, honey, ginger, miso, lime and the French bitter liqueur Suze.

Victor Tangos' excellent Yu-Kuza, a loyalty-worthy mix of yuzu-infused gin, honey, ginger, miso, lime and the French bitter liqueur Suze.

Marc Ramirez

VICTOR TANGOS, Knox-Henderson

Among DFW's first craft-cocktail sites, this Henderson Avenue linchpin has had its highs and lows but re-established its rhythm again this year under a veteran staff. An enervating atmosphere and quality dishes accent VT's lineup of creative, well-balanced drinks that go hand in hand with the kitchen, including the star-worthy daily specials concocted by bar manager Matt Ragan's practiced crew.

The next five: Abacus, Boulevardier, LARK at the Park, Small Brewpub, Tate's.

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