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A Kinder, Gentler Dark Horse? Yes

An early evening visit to this popular nightspot reveals a secret ... you can get a great cocktail here.

has some catching up to do. Being a nightspot with a less than pristine reputation, they are making every effort, however, to be a kinder, gentler place.

During the week, the place best known for offering $1 beer specials offers different scenes, not throbbing house music and an ambiguous college crowd. The Dark Horse is attempting to carve out a niche where you can get a drink made strong and be around people who want to have fun. 

My wife and I had just enjoyed a robust dinner at down the street. We weren't ready to go home right yet and after visiting our first choice–Hyatt Morristown–and discovering that this Tuesday night was 40's and 50's singles night, we were on our way back to our car. 

I suggested to my wife that I wanted to review The Dark Horse. We walked in the door and to my surprise it was not dark at all! A friendly, young guy came in right after us and said that they weren't open yet, but if we wanted a drink, he would certainly serve one to us. And as far as the lighting was concerned, he turned the lights down low nearly immediately. 

He introduced himself to me as Ian. I asked him about his pronounced accent. "Dublin, Ireland" he replied. Now, I love Dublin and have traveled there several times. I've always called it: "The friendliest city in Europe."

I asked for his list of cocktails. There were none, but he said that he could make just about anything I wanted. I asked for a Hendricks Martini. No, he had no Hendricks Gin. In fact, very apologetically, Ian said he had plenty of Gin, just no vermouth. 

How could I fault a place that is apologetic and truly wants to please his customers? I cannot. I ordered a Makers Mark on the rocks. This drink was perfect! Ian used the right glass, a short Rocks glass, and he didn't overly fill the glass with ice. 

Because I was unable to get exactly what I wanted the first time, my drink was on the house. This is a class act and a very welcome touch. So I cannot tell you what this drink would have cost.

Ian was genuinely sorry that he had no Vermouth for my Martini, and instead of sending me out without a cocktail, he made a new friend. 

But truly the deal was sealed when he mentioned that guy from over at the . I didn't know that Eric (the ticket guy for the past 30 years) was turning 50. That Eric has never had a vacation. That Eric's car was smashed in the parking lot of Headquarters Plaza and that The Dark Horse was holding a 50th birthday party for him in his honor, and that the proceeds of the party would pay for his car repair and send him on a much-deserved vacation. 

I am truly touched. For all the rowdy behavior that many have described at the Dark Horse, I saw a kinder, gentler side. Maybe something changed?

The flier for Eric's Birthday Party says it all succinctly: "The person that put smiles on peoples faces for the past 30 years!"

I cannot fault a place with a soul. I just ask you to visit the Dark Horse on Sept. 28 and when you see Eric, shake his hand and thank him for being so humble and kind to his customers at Clearview Cinemas.

I award The Dark Horse 5 out of 5 stars, for their friendly service and a story to go with the drink. Isn't this what the bar business is about?

JoeyBananas September 14, 2011 at 03:53 PM
No Vermouth ? at a Bar ? seriously ? so, in actuality you are more likely to be hit in the head at the Dark Horse than to be served a Martini. That is inexcusable. (Statistically this is a fact since police logs DO chronicle fights and assaults there, including a councilman but NO possibility of a Martini ... yhea, this place is trying to change )
julie jacobson September 14, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Sometimes bygones should be bygones as a place tries to change its image especially by hosting a birthday party for Eric who always makes us enjoy our movie a little more!
JoeyBananas September 14, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Bygones ? They - RIGHT NOW - dont have vermouth .. so - its not a Bar
Warren Bobrow September 14, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Jehosaphat: thank you for your kind comments. Perhaps you'd be kind enough to stop by Plaza Liquors and grab them a bottle? Thanks.
Kendra Arnold September 14, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Thanks for this story. I think it is great they are having a party for Eric, a Morristown legend. It makes me like people. Really thoughtful. I don't actually care about the vermouth.
Warren Bobrow September 17, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Kendra: Thank you for your comment. Eric has been a fixture here since, well, forever. Say what you will about the vermouth, I liked that they were honest with me. No BS. Anyone can write their own version of the news- I like to make people thirsty.
Brendan marahall September 19, 2011 at 12:45 AM
this article is as fake as Ians accent.... dark horse is a place to blackout and pickup underage FDU girls
Warren Bobrow September 19, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Brendan: Thank you for your enlightened comments on my article. Underage? Are you publicly stating that under-age drinking is going on at the Dark Horse? What substantiation do you have to cite your information? Is underage drinking going on anywhere else in town? I don't usually cover "hard" news, but I see a story here. Thank you for your complement of my written work!
Brendan marahall September 19, 2011 at 04:20 PM
It's pretty common knowledge around town that DH is known for underage drinking, the ABC has quite a file on them and they have had to shut down a few years ago I think it was on labor day weekend for citations. if you were to write a story about how a $20 and a library card gets you into the dark horse I don't think it would exactly be "breaking news". also I think it's compliment?!?
Warren Bobrow September 19, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Brendan: I tried to say something about the drink I had.. and not get into a politically charged conversation about under-age drinking. Why don't you run for office in Morristown? I would, but I live in the township.
Megan September 19, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Warren, Thanks for letting us know about Eric's party. He has been a kind and warm fixture at the theatere ever since I can remember. So sad about his car and he must have a vacation. What time is the party?
Murphy September 20, 2011 at 02:52 PM
There is alot of underage drinking going on in the dark horse and sona 13 as well. Ian has an ok fake accent for a kid who's from Chatham.
Warren Bobrow September 20, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Mr Murphy. If you say that there is underage drinking going on, why then hasn't the state ABC come in? Why don't you research this story and publish it as an opinion in the Patch? I'm sure if you revealed your identity instead of hiding behind an alias, there would be a different opinion? My job as a reporter is to be as balanced as possible- but if you have some information, I'm sure the readers and residents of Morristown would like to learn more!
Warren Bobrow September 20, 2011 at 03:01 PM
not sure but there is a sign outside DH on Dehart St.
Murphy September 20, 2011 at 03:12 PM
They have and this town just give them a fine and let's it go on half of the town council has all there parties there or at sona(for free) so they get away with everything.
Warren Bobrow September 20, 2011 at 03:28 PM
very interesting. why doesn't the state come in? Sounds fishy.
LR January 21, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Yes there is underage drinking at the DARK HORSE. I know for a fact a number of MHS 18 year olds who go there.

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