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SOMA Magazine » Archive » Eddie ‘Lucky’ Campbell
Eddie ‘Lucky’ Campbell

A beacon of cool in Dallas amid Main Street’s trite and unappealing nightlife, the Chesterfield opened in December 2011, updating classic bar theory with approachable refinement. Co-owner Eddie “Lucky” Campbell takes inspiration from the pre-prohibition era’s golden age of cocktails.

Campbell explains his view: “The period between 1890 and 1910 is when barmen became craftsmen and artists. They were representatives in their neighborhoods, with a sense of duty to entertainment—and in that sense of duty, they were incredibly hospitable.”

In contrast to the trendy and needlessly private speakeasy-style joints, the Chesterfield offers a wide-open entrance, inviting anyone to saunter in. “We hope our customers will try our cocktails, but we’re ready to serve them whatever they want,” says Campbell.

Raymond Jurado, who designed the interior, drew on his New Orleans roots for history with a sense of hospitality. The resulting mood is a retro saloon, both warmly ornate and thoroughly modern. Focal design elements include two large crystal chandeliers, plush bench seating and damask wallpaper.

The cozy bar-restaurant conjures New York or Paris, both in terms of size and look. The 2,000-foot interior is atypical of the oversize Texas aesthetic; it even lacks a TV set. But the real highlight is the various riffs on classic fizzes, juleps and smashes.

The Chesterfield’s atmosphere and attitude are the perfect complements to Campbell’s commitment to use only fresh fruit and high-quality bitters. The fedora-wearing barkeep’s 12-page drink menu is long on flavor and short on attitude. He explains, “People take cocktails too seriously, but they’re supposed to be fun. I make drinks for the guests to enjoy. So many people try to overthink it.” For hungry guests, there’s a well-edited menu of New American cuisine, such as mussels and seasonal flatbreads.

Running the Chesterfield is a far cry from any career path Campbell could have planned. He’d moved to Dallas from Washington, D.C., to pursue real estate but landed bar work to pay the bills. Along the way, he got his nickname from a former associate of casino owner and reputed mobster Benny Binion, who called out “Lucky” as a cue to buy people drinks.

Campbell developed a curiosity for the history of cocktails, which led him to gigs at well-known spots like Bolsa in Oak Cliff and the Mansion at Turtle Creek. “I started getting recognition for doing quality cocktails,” he explains. “So I felt a sense of duty to study the history of these spirits and cocktails.”

Describing his process to develop recipes, Campbell claims, “I actually don’t drink at all; it’s a huge handicap. It takes me a lot longer to come to that final copy. It’s 100 percent based on the guests’ palates.”

www.thechesterfielddallas.com

Text by Michael Cohen
Photography by Kelsey Foster

The Garden Gimlet
2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. ginger syrup
2­–3 basil leaves

Combine ingredients in shaker tin. Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into coupe or martini glass. Garnish with cucumber ribbon, ginger foam, and lime zest.

Ginger foam: Combine 3 egg whites, 1 cup powdered sugar, and 1 can ginger beer. Whisk furiously until frothy head forms. Let sit for 1 minute or until froth firms.

THE SPRING ISSUE


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