The Denton Dram: East Side Old Fashioned

If you know your way around the Downtown Denton Square, chances are you’ve popped into East Side just off the main drag on Oak Street. With 89 beers on tap, almost 200 whiskeys and a usual string of food trucks lining the edge of their beer garden, this local favorite is a much sought after spot for Dentonites young and old. It was just recently that manager Patrick Blancas decided to craft the one thing this bar didn’t have on offer, a set cocktail menu. It’s only fitting that given this bar’s concept of good beer and classically solid cocktails that they would feature an original recipe East Side Old Fashioned. 

East Side is associated with great beer, a laid-back “all are welcome” attitude and a lot of familiar faces. From business professional to college student, there’s a seat at the East Side bar for folks from every walk of life. It’s akin to the adult version of a clubhouse, you’ve got games, friends, good food a few steps out the back door and of course a fine selection of libations that will suit any palate. Their interior is both traditional and eclectic. You’ll find a dark wooden mesquite bartop, a handful of booths and a few high top tables indoors with various pictures and signs that adorn the walls. In the corner by the window is the dart pit, next to that a foosball table and the latest addictive electronic addition: Big Buck Hunter. Outside you can play Cornhole or grab a seat on the patio. Long picnic tables allow for big groups to sit comfortably and mingle. It has the air of a friend’s house party where everyone is invited and no one is empty-handed. Manager Patrick Blancas attributes the bar’s success to the staff and clientele alike. “Other than the extensive selection of spirits, I would say the people involved make this bar special,” Blancas says, “All the different personalities and characters make it what it is. It’s not necessarily better than any other place around town, but it’s unique in its own way.” Now just one more aspect of this already extraordinary bar is a handcrafted cocktail menu put together by Blancas himself. East Side has always been keen on pleasing the customer and ensuring there is something that appeals to everyone, this is the mindset behind a cocktail list. Where someone might not want a beer or whiskey, they now offer a selection of beverages that will satisfy any drinker’s desire. While the menu boasts ten selections to choose from, Blancas feels that the signature Old Fashioned is one of their more noteworthy cocktails. Crafted with Whistle Pig rye whiskey from a barrel hand selected by Blancas and crew from the distillery in Vermont, this is truly a one-of-a-kind drink. “We chose this barrel and these bottles on our own based on alcohol percentage, the flavor, hints of smokiness from the wood, and the aging process involved,” Blancas says, “You can actually grab hints of the wood it’s aged in. It’s perfect to sip neat, or in an Old Fashioned.” The rye whiskey definitely pulls that smokiness in to The East Side Old Fashioned met with a subtle fruitiness from the Peach Bitters they use in lieu or the usual Angostura or Peychaud’s. A dash of simple syrup helps balance the brazen flavor of the Whistle Pig and a brandy-soaked Luxardo cherry adds richness and a residual sweet note. In classic fashion it is also garnished with an orange peel and then finished with a quick splash of water to help the flavors meld and take the edge off. “I wanted something smooth and appealing with nice easy flavor. Very clean,” Blancas says, “Basically a cocktail that could appeal to a broad spectrum. It’s not too sweet, the rye has a good flavor.” With the cooler weather approaching, this is the perfect drink to warm up to on the patio surrounded by friends. Which at East Side, you always are. 

Come check out the new cocktail list that features other tasty drinks such as the Mango Habanero Rita and a Gin Grapefruit Elderflower. For $1 off, stop by during happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7. 

Photo by Lauren Coe
Header image design by Jason Lee