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Classic cocktails and fine spirits used

I realize this post is a bit similar to one about professional bartenders, but after living in Ann Arbor for 15 years, and frequently visiting Portland, OR, I have a special interest in places that have a wide variety of liquor, are well versed in a wide variety of era's of cocktails, particularly pre-prohibition era and those right after.

I find Sidebar okay, as I've gotten to know the bar staff well, but even that has some lacking (overemphasis on vodka).

Any suggestions where I can go, make sure my Manhattan is made correctly (that would be served up), and enjoy a wide variety of concoctions that resemble nothing like a not really martini type drink, but called that because people are dumb.

Thanks for recommendations and suggestions. Also, it would be great to get suggestions from all parts of the valley.

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  1. Jade Bar. Very nice whiskey lists and they know what they are doing.

    1. I would recommend Rancho Pinot, Citizen Public House, BLT Steak and Merc Bar. They all have solid talent behind the bar.

      I've had a killer manhattan @ Binkley's and Quiessence as well.

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      Rancho Pinot
      6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

      BLT Steak
      5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

      Citizen Public House
      7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      2 Replies
      1. re: azhotdish

        Thanks. Of the suggestions how many are places you can just have a few drinks? I'm trying to research that as well.

        1. re: azhotdish

          other than Binkley's anything else up in the Desert Ridge, North Scottdale, Cave Creek area. Have a friend that lives up there, would be convenient. Thanks!

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          Binkley's
          6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

        2. Let us know how those places make your Manhattan, sebcoecmz. I'm a sucker for any place that will make a Manhattan up, stirred (to avoid ice slush), and with bitters without me having to specify that is the appropriate way to make one. Extra points if they actually have rye with which to make it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Handbot

            Demerits if they argue that bitters don't belong in a Manhattan!

            1. re: zencker

              Not a whiskey drinker so I have to ask- what is the up recipe you would make at home and what type of bitters would you use

              1. re: Dapuma

                It depends on whether you're making a Manhattan with bourbon or rye. It was originally made with rye, but as bourbon starting taking over the market several years ago most Manhattans are made with bourbon. Since bourbon is sweeter (as it is made with corn) it requires less of the sweet vermouth than one made with rye. I prefer the dryness and spiciness of rye to bourbon, but I'll bend depending on the weather. Here are two variations:

                Rye (classic) Manhattan:
                3 or 4 parts rye
                1 part sweet red vermouth
                dash(es) of angostura bitters
                - mix all of these in a mixer with ice and STIR (don't shake - this adds ice slush and waters the drink down); strain into an old fashioned glass over a maraschino cherry
                - I typically do 1.5 oz of Bulleit or Old Overholt rye with 0.5 oz of Noilly Prat sweet vermouth with two or three dashes of bitters

                Bourbon Manhattan:
                4 or 5 parts rye
                1 part sweet red vermouth
                dash(es) of angostura bitters
                - mix all of these in a mixer with ice and STIR (don't shake - this adds ice slush and waters the drink down); strain into an old fashioned glass over a maraschino cherry

            2. re: Handbot

              I use the Manhattan as a trial for who ever is behind bar. I usually get some horrific abomination and have to ask it to be remade, I have someone willing to clarify how I want it, and then finally those who will ask me bourbon or rye, what bourbon or rye to use, and then make it correctly. I'll post results as I explore.

              1. re: Handbot

                Stopped in at Portland's on Central Saturday night and found out that their well gin was Plymouth. Already a huge win for them. Then I proceeded to order a Manhattan. No question it was served up. We had a long discussion about which bourbon to use, and how that affected the amount of vermouth to use depending on which one I chose. I like that we discussed this for at least 5 minutes, and I had about a 1/2 shot of all the bourbons that were potentially used (even though I was familiar with most of them.

                The Manhattan was pretty good, given my choice of bourbon. Disappointed they didn't have any rye, but I would be nitpicking at that point. Also need to go back with my recipe for homemade maraschino cherries, though finding the right cherries to use will be difficult, but they were curious. overall good experience and when Plymouth is your well gin, you know someone has taste.

              2. Have you had a lot of Manhattans locally not served up? I haven't found that yet. Agree that not all spots have rye though (I prefer Old Overholt).

                On our first trip together to NYC years ago, I decided I wanted to do a sampling of rye Manhattans at classic spots and ordered them at Bemelman's, 21 Club, Old King Cole Bar, Café des Artistes (and Angel's Share). That was (hic) fun. Locally, Citizen Public House, Durant's, and BLT are some of my favorite spots for Manhattans. BLT also makes their own version with bourbon and Grand Marnier cherries called "The Cowboy Killer".

                Durant's Manhattan:
                http://www.chow.com/photos/591313

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                Citizen Public House
                7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                4 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  Yes (rarely served up), that, and a trip to Portland, OR recently prompted this thread. I like Sidebar, it's so close to me, and so far from a lot of other people, so I like a variety of places.

                  1. re: sebcoecmz

                    Wow, that's disappointing, you've rarely had Manhattans served up here? I've been lucky, but have only been here for 3-1/2 years. Now I'm sure the next one I order will turn up on the rocks. Although I'm going to Mabel's on Main tomorrow so it won't be there - another favorite spot for cocktails. Haven't been to Sidecar yet, but have heard lots of good things, I'll be sure to check it out!

                    I have to get to Oregon one of these days. A good Chowhound friend from Boston (BarleyWino) lived in OR for a while and used to tell me about all his favorite fantastic cocktail haunts (Teardrop in Portland; Crush, Spur, and Zig Zag in Seattle). And speaking of Portland - I think it was Jeffrey Morgenthaler from Clyde Common who first tried the barrel-aged cocktails in the UK and then brought the idea stateside. I haven't tried any in Phoenix yet, though I've heard Quiessence was the first locally to have barrel-aged Manhattans, and I think Travis is doing barrel-aged at Rancho Pinot, but I'm not sure. It's another place I have to get to.

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                    Rancho Pinot
                    6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

                    Quiessence
                    6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

                    Mabel's on Main
                    7018 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                    1. re: sebcoecmz

                      Also [somewhat] close to the Sidebar is Hanny's. Ashley at the SB is easily one of the best bartenders in town, but the staff at Hanny's is pretty solid in their own right.
                      A little farther is the bar at the Biltmore resort. The one kind of in the lobby past the front desk right outside of Wright's. They make a fine drink there. I've already seen Durant's mentioned and I will second that suggestion. Any of theese places are great for just dropping in and having a couple drinks.

                      1. re: fledflew

                        I live near Sidebar, and if Ashley is in, be patient and wait for her to serve you. Some of the other staff has failed the Manhattan test. She's good, but her repertoire is still a bit limited. However, she'll look it up for you, or is always eager to learn.

                  2. I've had good luck at The Duce. They have everything from a Tom Collins to a sloe gin fizz. They squeeze their own juices, and there's no sour mix in sight.

                    Some minuses for serving them all on the rocks and in mason jars, and some overgarnishing, however. Their heart is in the right place.

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                    The Duce
                    525 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: grrlscout

                      Been meaning to try out The Duce. Will have to make it there.

                    2. Citizen Public House makes some nice classic cocktails

                      They make a great Bijou

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                      Citizen Public House
                      7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      1. I'm soon going to Phoenix-area and wondered if there were any updates to the bars listed here. I'm looking for the best classic cocktails. It seems like CPT might be the best, but all info welcome!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: signofthefourwinds

                          Citizen Public House and they just opened up a small "secret" sidebar which is connected upstairs, i would head there for cocktails above any other place

                          You could also check out Mabel on Main's - they would be my 2nd choice for cocktails alone

                          Mabel's usually has a coupon on localdines.com

                            1. re: signofthefourwinds

                              I had a great time at Citizen's Public House and Citizen''s R&D. The only negative was the 20% "service charge" + the request for an additional tip at R&D. The "service charge" was clearly stated on the menu, so that wasn't a surprise, but the fact that the receipt also asked for a tip amount on top of the service charge did not sit well with me. If they need more money, then charge more for the drinks. Service charge at 20% + a tip at, what, 20% makes for a 40% uplift. Not cool in my book, even for a place that serves great drinks. I also tried Mabel's, but walked out after basically every head in the bar turned as I walked in the place. Believe me, I'm nothing to look at. It weirded me out!

                              1. re: signofthefourwinds

                                I'm a little curious, what was the exact wording they used on the receipt? Outright requesting a tip is downright tacky, something I see as far below them.

                                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                  There was a space for a tip on the receipt. Sorry if I wasn't clear. If people usually tip well there at the 20% or higher level, I wonder why they see a need to have a "service charge" at all? I've never seen that in any other classic cocktail bar. Hell, if PDT doesn't do that, then I don't think CPH should.

                                  1. re: signofthefourwinds

                                    Oh. That's not *requesting* an additional tip per se; it's just leaving the option open. For example, if you receive some sort of lagniappe, it's customary to tip on the amount that the check should have been, which requires the tip line on the credit card slip. On a standard visit like yours where the service charge is included, any additional gratuity is entirely at your discretion. If you did indeed double-tip, it's possible to speak with the restaurant and ask them to fix it so you only tip them once.

                                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                      Ah, technically you are correct, but that assumes that the "service charge" is not only displayed on the menu, but also boldly on the bill. This practice is sneaky and I am surprised someone would attempt it in the very competitive Scottsdale market. As to asking the restaurant to fix it, sure, you can do that...If you catch the double charge. It is not a reputable practice in my opinion. If you want to impose a mandatory service fee fine. If you want to have discretionary tipping, all the better. But, don't mandate a "charge" and then present a bill with a total that then has a space for a tip.