Beat the heat with these cool Dallas-Fort Worth drinks and destinations

We can't promise you a cold day in hell, but we have come up with a plus-size six-pack of stuff to do and chew to help beat the heat, or at least throw a temporary chill into things. So grab some shades and wade in.

Throw back a cold one

Two little words: cold beer. That's all it takes to put a smiley face on some of us.

So there were frowns all around last winter when a snowstorm collapsed the roof at Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. and the taps were turned off.

But Rahr is about to pop a top on what could have been a summer bummer. It hopes to be brewing again by this weekend, and conducting tours, too. While the 20,000-square-foot facility is not air-conditioned, it does have swamp coolers, plus a new 25-foot stand-up bar and 16 picnic tables in what owner Fritz Rahr describes as a beer-garden atmosphere. So dress appropriately and get ready to quaff a cold one. Plans are to offer visitors a trio of beers: Ugly Pug, Stormcloud India Pale Ale and the Blonde lager.

"We're, like, 99 percent there," Rahr said this week. "They're still working on the final build-out of offices."

He's hoping that by the time thirsty readers see this, inspections should be checked off and summer fun will be bubbling out of those spigots. Check the website and sign up for e-mail alerts.

Cost: $7 entry fee, includes a pint glass and three samples

Hours: Tours are 1-3 p.m. Saturdays

Where: 701 Galveston Ave., Fort Worth

Phone: 817-810-9266


Nice ice, baby

Chewblet. Cubelet. Pellet. Whatever you call it, nugget chewers everywhere are hot for it.

We're talking about the bite-size bits of ice extruded from Manitowoc, Hoshizaki or Scotsman machines, which is what Sonic Drive-In uses to chill its drinks.

"Sonic drive-throughs were the first ones that just bought a nugget machine and nothing else," said Mike "The Iceman" Minor, owner of Vivian International in St. Louis. "It's a flake icemaker."

Regardless of the brand, they all use the same engineering principles.

"It compresses it through a tube, and then it's cut into chunks," said Minor, whose company builds ice plants and sells icemakers.

"It's not pretty ice. It's just fun to chew. You bite; it just compresses and compresses. It takes on the flavor of the drink."

He explained that pellet ice is also ideal for making ice cream at home, since melting ice, which you get when you put rock salt on it, is colder than ice that's not melting. Pellet ice melts faster and consequently gets colder faster.

At $2,165, the under-the-counter Hoshizaki C-100 is a hot item for high-end homeowners right now. Jay Leno has an under-desk compressed ice machine in his office.

Want a little at a time? Sonic sells the stuff by the bag. The Sonic at 6217 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth, for example, sells 10-pound bags for $2.39 each, plus tax. Limit of two per customer.

Minor said the new QuikTrip stores have chewblits in all their drink machines.

"People are coming in two or three times a day," Minor said. "It's become a cult."

Drive out and dive in

Empty municipal coffers mean many local swimming pools are dry this summer.

But a little more than an hour southwest of Fort Worth, one of the area's oldest pools is ready for action at historic Oakdale Park in Glen Rose. Established in 1925, the city took possession of the previously private park in December and is renovating the property.

There haven't been any major redos yet -- the pool was originally excavated using mules -- but Peggy Busch, Glen Rose city secretary, said it's good to go for the season.

"We've patched the cracks and painted it, and it's beautiful," Busch said.

There's a snack bar with burgers and nachos, changing facilities, two to three lifeguards at all times and a shallow end suitable for toddlers. If you want to spend the night, there are old petrified-wood cabins, including five that are newly renovated; unrestored frame cabins; plus RV and tent sites. Keep in mind: The vintage cabins are in high demand.

Day trippers who just want to get wet and wild don't need a reservation for the pool, which holds more than 300,000 gallons.

"It's deep enough at the other end to dive," Busch said, adding that even though it can get crowded, "I've never seen it where you couldn't get wet."

If that's not cool enough, walk across the street to the Paluxy River and the city's Big Rocks Park. From there, you can stroll on over to the river walk.

Cost: $4.95, ages 3-13; $5.95 adults. The City Council may lower rates by $1.

Where:1019 N.E. Barnard St., Glen Rose

Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Phone: 254-897-2321

Extremely cool cocktails

Ice is nice. Dry ice is even nicer, since it's colder.

That's why the new Bailey's Prime Plus uses it in three of its signature drinks.

You not only get a colder drink, but there's that fog that surrounds Bailey's cosmotini, pomegranate martini and 40 apples, which is made with bourbon, apple schnapps and cranberry juice.

"People love it," bartender Julie Briant said, adding that she'll throw dry ice into other drinks if customers ask. Cool.

Cost: $12; half price during happy hour

Where: 2901 Crockett St., Fort Worth

Hours: 4-7 p.m. Monday-; 9-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

Phone: 817- 870-1100


A cold day in the heavens

It doesn't get much colder than outer space. A seat at one of the nearby planetariums gets visitors out of this world in no time without crossing the county line.

"You can see people holding their seats a little bit tightly," during some of the programs, said Levent Gurdemir, director of the University of Texas at Arlington planetarium. "I think that it would be the best place in Texas this summer."

In addition to the weekly $2 feature films, the 60-foot dome is home to six space-related programs, including a Sesame Street program designed for children in kindergarten through second grade. There's programming for older kids and adults, too.

Gurdmir is proud of his newly installed software and brighter projectors, which make what's already a relatively new facility a state-of-the-art one.

At the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Noble Planetarium boasts 90 seats, a 40-foot dome cover and two new all-digital star balls, combined with immersive all-dome video. Don't forget the fiber-optic dual-hemisphere star projector that allows visitors to see more than 7,000 stars, according to the museum. As for programming: Texas Sky Tonight; Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity and One World, One Planet: Big Bird's Adventure are on all summer.

The Planetarium at UT-Arlington

Cost: $3-$6; $2 feature films

Where: 700 Planetarium Place

Phone: 817-272-1183


Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

Cost: $3-$5

Where: 1600 Gendy St.

Phone: 817-255-9300


Frozen concoction

Most of us can't indulge in a frozen margarita during the day. But there's nothing wrong with an Italian ice, which is a frozen 'rita minus the alcohol.

"Italian ice is kind of a texture between ice cream and a snow cone," said Marlon Freeman, proprietor of Rita's Italian Ice."It's a relatively new concept for this area."

Also known as "water ice," it combines ice with fresh fruit, and is fat- and cholesterol-free, according to Rita's.

Freeman opened his Fort Worth store about two months ago. Southlake, Bedford and Flower Mound have locations, too.

"We change flavors daily" and have a 36-hour freshness policy, after which unused product is tossed, Freeman said. "The only one we make every single day is vanilla."

And unlike ice-cream stores, Freeman's staff can mix up whatever customers want if they don't mind waiting about 15 minutes.

"If they're really jonesing for that coconut" ice, he said, "we'll make it."

Cost: $2.09 for a 10-ounce cup or $2.59 for 16 ounces

Where: 301 Clifford Center Drive, Fort Worth. Check the website for other locations.

Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Phone: 817-246-7482


Chill with the animals

The penguins live outside in the South Africa exhibit.

Visitors, however, can chill indoors while they're viewing the sharks, raptors, hummingbirds and other wild fauna at the privately owned Dallas World Aquarium. In addition to the 40-foot-long tunnel containing rays and sharks, there's a three-story rain-forest exhibit. In all, five areas are featured: South Africa, Borneo, Mundo Maya, the Orinoco and the aquarium. Visitors can watch staff members feed the otters, crocodiles, sharks and sea turtles, and check out the anteaters and rainbow boa in the Orinoco.

If watching crocodiles, bull sharks and vampire bats makes you hungry, you can dine at one of the aquarium's three eateries. There is also a movie theater with regular films and a gift shop.

Open since 1992, the aquarium is a work in progress, with regular additions to the building as well as to the animal population.

"There's no two days alike," spokeswoman Arden Richardson said. "It's kind of like being out in the jungle."

Weekends can be crowded, so plan accordingly.

Cost: Adults, $20.95; children 3-12, $12.95; seniors (60 and older), $16.95

Where:1801 N. Griffin St., Dallas

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Phone: 214-720-2224


JOHN AUSTIN, 817-390-7874