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  • Pascal's Bar: Secret Speakeasy on the Denton Square
    by Carl Foster
    Pascal's Bar: Secret Speakeasy on the Denton Square

    Pascal's on the Denton Square, Located Above Andy's

    Hours: 4 PM - 2 AM. (4-7 PM Happy Hour, $1 off drinks)

    Complimentary Food on Thursday and Friday

    In a classic episode of the Simpsons, Homer testifies to the FBI that his activity in a local bar consisted of "discussing Wittgenstein over backgammon." They remind him that he is under oath, and suddenly the night in question involves eating mustard packets in the back seat of someone's car.

    The real joke is that scarcely any bar is dedicated to classy activity anymore, and like most jokes it contains a sad truth. The fact is, bars have gotten noisier, less engaging, and more jammed with TVs than ever.

    Pascal's is offering something entirely different to the Denton community. There are no live bands, there is no blaring house music. Instead one finds the incandescent mellowness of a pub, more board games than you would find on an ocean liner, and the voluminous bookshelves of an eccentric hermit-all in a space for 49 occupants.

    "When we were decorating it for the vibe, we wanted to create a classic, warm atmosphere," said owner Eric Pulido. "One conducive to community, conversation and art. If a bar is loud or not as welcoming to conversation, that doesn't make it a bad bar, but there's already plenty of that."

    Even though he is a musician by trade, Pulido envisioned a bar without the typical dependence on rotating live acts or virtual atmosphere from domineering DJs. He is searching for something more unusual to contribute to the wide selection of bars in Denton.

    On Tuesday nights, Pascal's has an early-evening lecture series up for a trial run. "We'll see how it goes," said Pulido. "We had someone speak on Rock and Roll History, and we will have philosophy, then art if people like it." For many Denton citizens it will offer the long-awaited opportunity to drink openly in a classroom setting.

    For those in search of straightforward drinks and seating, Pascal's is adorned with hanging art, decorous fixtures and much well-preserved furniture from different eras of our American past.

    The cocktail list is exotic, featuring a daiquiri inspired by Ernest Hemingway and the delicious espresso martini. A large beer list complements a burgeoning wine list: "Wine is on the way," according to the manager.

    At Pascal's the refinement of a longstanding Dallas bar meets the economy of Denton's extra-special nightclub prices, with most drinks averaging between $5 and $7, and Happy Hour (4-7 PM) taking a dollar off everything. On Thursdays and Fridays there is usually a table laid out with free food.

    "The drinks are pricey for Denton," the manager Jeremy Dean admitted, "But look at our well liquors. Bombay gin, Jack Daniels, Monopolowa Vodka. No one else is using those to make well drinks."

    Plus the bartenders practice their craft with ingenuity, offering new concoctions and long-lost recipes when inspiration strikes them. December had hot mulled cider, and New Year's brought fanciful champagne cocktails.

    Holidays and events get special treatment, but one never knows what it will be. Pascal's does not advertise its wares, just as it does not display its name in front of the bar.

    Yes, Pascal's is one of those rarer bars in which knowing about it is a prerequisite for discovering it.

    "One reason against the sign is how we would have to mess with the old building," said Pulido. "I am a member of Denton's Historic Building Committee, so it is my own concern too."

    "We like the word of mouth aspect," the manager Jeremy Dean explained. "It adds to the speak-easy element."

    Nevertheless there is sometimes a line down the stairs, giving Pascal's the appearance of popularity; and on weekends it can take 15 to 20 minutes to be waved in.

    "We don't try to look elitist," said Pulido, "But with an occupancy of 49 people, including staff, it can get backed up. So we hope it's not just because there's a line that people want to get in, but that they would wait because they want that kind of cocktail or that type of vibe."

    As I left at 4 PM, when the bar opens every day, the manager mentioned that the bar had a Facebook page and I told him I saw it but couldn't get a lot of information from it. "It didn't even have your phone number," I told him.

    He enjoyed giving me the answer: "We don't have a phone."

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