The gin and tonic at HIDE is so crystalline that, served neat in an undressed champagne flute, it could easily be mistaken for water — until you taste it. HIDE’s deceptively simple take on the classic drink has all of the flavors you want in a gin and tonic, and nothing more.
That’s essentially the goal of the drink menu at HIDE, an experimental cocktail bar that opened in Dallas’ Deep Ellum a few weeks ago.
The decidedly modern space is decked out with simple furnishings and a large, geometric bar in the center. Sitting there, you can watch a handful of focused bartenders preparing exotic cocktails, but you’re not getting the full show.
As owner Nick Backlund and director of beverage Scott Jenkins explain, there is more to these drinks than meets the eye. Right through the doors in the back of the bar sits a cocktail laboratory — this is where the real magic happens. HIDE uses complicated techniques and innovative technology to make their drinks as drinkable as possible. There’s a centrifuge to clarify juices, a roto-vaporizer to extract flavors and aromas, a laser to cut pristine gems of ice, and much more.
“With the whole craft movement, stuff kind of got sterile. You would go into a bar and it was more about the bartender than the guest.”
“We wanted the drinks to speak for themselves. If you wanted to come in here and just have a really, really good drink, you could do that,” says Backlund. “We didn’t want the equipment to overshadow the drink program, or overshadow the bartenders and the experience that every guest is given.”
More than simply serving up great drinks, Backlund wants to reinstate the bartender-customer comradery he missed in other specialty cocktail bars.
“With the whole craft movement, stuff kind of got sterile. You would go into a bar and it was more about the bartender than the guest,” he says.
“We didn’t want that to be a theatrical performance,” Jenkins says. “The one thing that’s important to us is having a conversation with the people who come in here, and having an experience over the cocktails that’s more than just a meeting of the eyes and saying ‘Yes, what do you want?’ ”
Making the drinks might not be a performance, but it’s certainly a process. Your drink will take a little longer than usual to prepare, but it’s worth the wait. You can choose from impeccably done classics, like the dangerously smooth gin and tonic (Jenkin’s favorite), or inventive originals, like the frothy, pepper-spiked ancho sour. If you’re smart, you’ll enjoy your drink with a $3 fishbowl of garlic rosemary popcorn, which could best be described as garlic bread in popcorn form.
Later this month, you’ll have another reason to check out the bar when it opens a patio area and begin programming, including occasional live music, Thursday nights with DJ Blake Ward, pop-ups, and special pairing dinners.
HIDE, 2816 Elm St, Dallas