It's hard to imagine, given the state of Dallas' thriving craft-cocktail scene, that just a decade ago the city was a virtual cocktail desert. For the few bartenders then beginning to embrace the budding revival of classic recipes, fresh ingredients and attention to technique, the Windmill Lounge was an oasis.
The Windmill Lounge never made itself out to be anything more than your basic watering hole, set as it was -- and still is -- along a remote and unpolished stretch of Maple Avenue a skip and a long jump to Love Field. Owners Louise Owens and then-hubby Charlie Papaceno nurtured an atmosphere that would become a mainstay for those scattered upstarts who eventually led the city out of its craft-cocktail wasteland toward the vibrant scene that it is today -- pioneers like Parliament's Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, Madrina's Michael Martensen, Neighborhood Services' Ivan Rimach and The 86 Co.'s Jason Kosmas.
On Saturday, the Windmill will mark its 11th anniversary, and naturally there will be a party involving libations of the most adult variety. The celebration, which kicks off at 7 p.m. and runs until close, will feature DJ beats, an appearance by the Easy Slider food truck (with sliders on the house) and cake and Champagne at 11 p.m.
"Eleven in bar years is like 100 in human years," says Owens, who has run the place solo ever since now-ex-husband Papaceno left in late 2014 to open Industry Alley Bar in the Cedars neighborhood.
"It has been a great adventure and it would not have happened without our great customers and all the people who have worked here over the years."
In 2013, Esquire cocktail scribe David Wondrich named the Windmill among the best bars in America -- not bad for a no-frills joint with a fierce jukebox and come-as-you-are regulars. The current menu is high on classics like the Rusty Nail, Last Word and Vieux Carre, with an entire page dedicated to riffs on the Manhattan -- like the bar itself, solid anchors to buoy oneself during troubled times.
Uber by and pay your respects.