On right, Christy Pope & Chad Solomon.
Scenes from Midnight Rambler.
Scenes from Midnight Rambler.
With design details borrowed from Kubrick, David Lynch and Andy Warhol’s favorite watering hole, Dallas’ newest bar evinces cinematic chic.
The Joule’s new underground craft cocktail bar, Midnight Rambler, is named for the 1969 song written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger while holed up for three days in Positano. Richards has described the song as a blues opera — which is also a good analogy for the bar — with a playlist that includes rock and soul, rhythm and blues, and a little primal punk and post punk tossed in; there’s also a great visual story to tell. Although the namesake lyrics are dark, the bar itself is luminous, from the lighting (co-owner Chad Solomon, a film major at University of Texas film school, once did lighting for film sets) to the meticulously considered decor, which Solomon and co-owner/partner Christy Pope created with interior design influence from their new neighbors, TenOverSix co-owners Kristen and Joe Cole.
Located below ground via stairs from The Joule’s lobby, Midnight Rambler is the latest in Tim Headington’s multimillion-dollar expansion of the hotel. And, it comes with quite a pedigree. Concepteurs Pope and Solomon are pros by way of Milk & Honey in NYC, where they met. They also co-own Cuffs & Buttons, a consulting business for the beverage and catering industry, and have consulted at drinks establishments across the globe (70 hotels on four continents, they say), including The Joule’s own CBD Provisions.
Solomon describes Rambler’s concept as “analog — from the music we play to the way we approach cocktails.” The long barrel-vaulted room is enveloped in rich leather, brass, mica, copper and walnut. “Chad and I really wanted the room to be elegant and approachable, but not feel too polished,” says Pope, who, like Solomon, has a music background that includes working for a record label and stints as a DJ. For Rambler, the duo put their film and music backgrounds to work, borrowing details from the most legendary bars in the world, real and imagined. The ceiling was inspired by Café Silencio in Paris, created and designed by director David Lynch. Channeling Max’s Kansas City — the Manhattan gathering spot for artists, musicians and Warhol’s fashion set during the ’60s and ’70s — a DJ spins from a pedestal made from a working vintage speaker from that era, while a vast collection of vintage albums is displayed like art. And, the lighted mica behind the two bar areas that illuminates vast seas of bottles is straight from The Shining, says Solomon. “We really loved that bar from the movie and wanted to give Midnight Rambler a ’60s cinematic feel with Kubrick’s framing.”
Celebrated watering holes may have influenced many of the design elements, but until Solomon and Pope pulled the music together, they were just details in search of a concept. “We heard the soundtrack first to the room, and it really started to drive the design,” he says. “We know the drinks side really well, but we needed to know what the room should feel like, what the experience should be.” With a little help from The Sonics’ “Psycho,” Velvet Underground’s “White Light, White Heat,” Alvin Cash & The Crawlers’ “Twine Time” and Rufus Thomas’ “Memphis Train,” a soulful, rockin’ room emerged, with authentic touches from the period: vintage Finn Juhl chairs, tufted-leather Chesterfield sofas, a Dorothy Thorpe punch bowl and glasses, hammered copper mugs and midcentury dresses purchased off Etsy for hostesses to wear. The goods add up to create the analog mood that Solomon sought. A restored 1960s Wurlitzer organ, which Solomon found in Brooklyn, will soon be put to use, once the Rambler’s Sunday brunches start later this year. “Brunch is historically morning and afternoon,” says Solomon, “but we’d like to do the ‘drunk brunch,’ for those who do not get out of bed until three.”