Denton Dram Cocktail Review: the O'Hara at Hickory Street Lounge
When you’re out on the town with your local Dentonites and someone mentions Hickory Street Lounge, a common response is, “Where? I’ve never heard of that place.” Relying mostly on word of mouth as promotion, Hickory Street Lounge (HSL) is a hidden gem of the Denton bar scene nestled just off the Square. This is the spot where Taylor Weidman and crew have been creating cocktails that put them on par with the best in town. One, in particular, causing a stir at HSL lately is Weidman’s new gin-based cocktail, the O'Hara.
If you are lucky enough to stumble into this candle-lit lounge, there are only good things to come. The space has an air of comfort you’d find in someone’s own living room, from the plush couches to the upright piano against the wall. Eclectic arrangements of pictures cover the walls almost floor to ceiling featuring characters from Frank Sinatra to Steve Martin, and even local legends such as Pops Carter or Walt Garrison. Modest tables are filled with guests chatting over red votives just next to the backlit wooden bar that has an inviting Cheers aspect which some spots come by naturally. There is an array of small bottles containing syrups infused with lavender or basil, and on the back counter, the bartenders juice fresh grapefruit for Salty Dogs or Hemingway Daiquiris. “When people come in for the first time, you can tell they didn’t really expect this,” Weidman says, “Some people are really wide-eyed about it when they see us cutting an actual watermelon on top of the bar. There’s definitely a little showmanship involved.”
Their original cocktails crafted by the bar team are fresh and original, but the recommended drink is Weidman’s O'Hara. It consists of Hendricks gin, lemon juice, lavender syrup and honey all shaken and topped with soda water and cucumber. The appearance of the cocktail is clean and classic with a pop of green from the cucumber fanned out of the glass as a garnish. Weidman says, “I’ve never really played around with gin before, Hendricks is the perfect base for this gin and lavender cocktail.” The drink has immediate floral notes brightened further by the aroma of fresh cucumber. Upon tasting, the lemon juice provides the right amount of tart, which compliments the warmer sweet notes from the honey. The addition of soda water really brings this cocktail home, giving it a sparkling effect suited for a warm Texas night on the patio. Weidman chose Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind as her inspiration for this cocktail. She says, “It’s delightful as hell, but it’ll kick your ass. A bit like its namesake.”
When asked about bartending, Weidman says, “This is a legitimate city to do this job in. The camaraderie around the bartenders in this community is insane.” She goes on to explain how she’s found a home at HSL, and within the family of Denton bartenders. “Outside of this environment I’m not really too open, that’s why I get along with other service industry people. I prefer the bar scene and the clientele that comes with it.”
HSL has been dubbed “the bar you go to when you don’t want to be seen.” If you’re looking for a quiet date spot or a place to sample good cocktails on your own, seek out this allusive spot. Try the O'Hara, a refreshing, well-balanced cocktail that is sure to keep you coming back for another. And another.
Photos by Lauren Coe
Header image design by Jason Lee