This guest blog post is by Stephen Perl.
With the Brown Bar closed due to flooding, I needed a new spot for a Martini downtown. I decided to take an excursion to Midnight Cowboy. Owned by the folks who brought us Alamo Drafthouse and Highball, both places I love and frequent, I knew it would have personality.
Midnight Cowby harkened back to prohibition, a time when speakeasies were numerous and quite popular. Many were run by individuals involved with organized crime, and many were raided and the owners arrested. However, in spite of that, they were so profitable that they continued to flourish and gain in popularity. When one patronizes Midnight Cowboy in the heart of dirty Sixth Street, it’s easy to see why the speakeasy was so popular. This unassuming and under-the-radar speakeasy-style bar offers a refreshing, relaxed oasis in the heart of the mess that is Sixth Street.
Not only is this bar inspired by history, the building itself has quite the interesting history as well. Formerly known as Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage, this building operated as a brothel, masquerading as a massage parlor.
If you’ve been to the bars on Sixth, you’ve probably passed by this place many times without a second glance. The exterior is a drab brown, with only an exposed red light bulb to mark its presence. However, the cliché “appearances can be deceiving” couldn’t be more true for this place. Once inside, you are immediately exposed to a relaxing, jazzy ambience and classic decor. The interior design of this speakeasy is a modern rendition of art-deco, drawing from the prohibition-inspired personality that this bar exudes.
If you want an excellent beverage, look no further than Midnight Cowboy. Not only does this place offer excellent house cocktails, they also offer the classics. It is the attention to detail that makes this place so great. From the type of ice for an old-fashioned, to the style of glass for your julep, they know the right way to make a drink.
The bartenders, despite their vast knowledge of mixology, lack any pretense and are more than willing to provide you with recommendations on spirits or drinks.
Round 1: The Martini
They make their martinis with Plymouth gin, Dolin dry vermouth, orange bitters, and garnish it with a lemon twist. For this beverage, the bartender came to my booth and mixed it in front of me. And although James Bond wouldn’t have approved, they stirred the martini and served it in a chilled glass. It was one of the best I have had in town. The citrus undertones complimented the spirits perfectly.
Round 2: The Hemingway Daiquiri
A far cry from the slurpee-esque drink that masquerades under the name “daiquiri” that you would find in many other bars on Sixth, the Hemingway daiquiri is a classic. A concoction of white rum, fresh lime, and maraschino liqueur, it was slightly sweet, but the spirits were not overpowered.
While Midnight Cowboy Modeling no longer serves “happy endings” in the same manner it became infamous for, I definitely left a happy customer. The intimate setting is exactly what was missing from the downtown night life. Accommodating parties from 2-8 on a reservation-only policy, the environment is sure to be relaxed and intimate. Larger parties can reserve a private booth that has spacious seating.
The knowledgeable wait staff is a far cry from the cramped long lines and rude bartenders you will experience at many other bars on the same block. As our two hour reservation came to a close, I knew I’d want to come back and try more of the wide selection of beverages. Next time I’ll be sure to wear my Lucchese cowboy boots to keep with the midnight cowboy theme.
Stephen Perl is constantly searching for new places to tickle his taste buds, quench his thirst for adventure, or listen to great music. He loves cowboy boots, great food and beverages, live music, and sharing his finds with others.
Photos courtesy of Cameron Russell, Inge Thorud and Alamo Drafthouse.