The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2018

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Page 94 of 96

94  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2018 Hidden in the vast sprawl of Dallas, Texas, a tiny, 600-square-foot bar known as Atwater Alley is a mystery to many. But can the venue even be consid- ered a full-fledged bar? "I don't label it as a cocktail bar or as a mixology place. It's really just a cool, small bar with a great atmosphere," says Beverage Director Alex Fletcher. Fletcher is no newcomer to the Dallas cocktail scene. With seven years of beverage-directing experience honed at spots across the city, he built the program at Atwater Alley proudly from scratch with a vision born out of an unfinished back storage room left behind by the previous owners. "It was untouched and had so much potential just to be a really cool little cocktail bar that was unassuming from the outside and beautiful on the inside," Fletcher says of the space. After it was cleaned up and filled out with booths and decor, the bar came alive with its signature dark-and-sultry mystique. To help Atwater Alley stand out from the growing pack of "secret" bars found across the country, Fletcher says his staff focuses on "styled-up" cocktails on a more free-form menu rather than featuring a seasonal beverage list like many other Dallas mainstays. Fletcher's team convenes weekly to discuss cocktail ideas and seasonal ingredients, which influence each new rendition of the classic drinks on the bar's list. For example, if peaches are in season, the team may decide to serve up a peach bourbon sour for all customers simply ordering a "sour"; this ever-evolving menu, Fletcher explains, keeps custom- ers on their toes. Fletcher currently serves as the Beverage Director for ten bars and restaurants across Dallas, and as an expert on the city's cocktail scene, he's particularly equipped to spot emerging trends. "I predict rum is going to be our next big explosion in the city," he says, noting the appeal of its accessibility, versatility, and cost. Fletcher's own drink of choice is an age-old favorite: a Sazerac with one part rye, one part Cognac, four dashes of Peychaud's Bitters, citrus oils, a quarter- ounce of simple syrup, and a barspoon of absinthe. "It's one of those drinks that if you get any one of the ingredients out of whack, it can go bad really quick," Fletcher says. A perfectly paired glass of wine. The calm at the end of a busy night. When a guest gets an obscure reference on a menu. Watching staff grow and prosper. Learning something new. Uncared-for citrus. Dry-ice cocktails. Being asked if this is my "real" job. Cocky bartenders. [The Muppet show] Fraggle Rock . . . God, I hate Fraggle Rock. THE "5" LIST ALEX FLETCHER'S TOP FIVE FAVES: ALEX FLETCHER'S TOP FIVE PET PEEVES: ALEX FLETCHER BEVERAGE DIRECTOR FOR ATWATER ALLEY IN DALLAS, TX by Madelyn Gagnon TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . PHOTO COURTESY OF ATWATER ALLEY

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