MercBar Is Reopening at Esplanade After More Than a Year

The remodeled side room of MercBar.
Rick Phillips
The remodeled side room of MercBar.
MercBar is reopening this Friday after being closed for more than a year. The classic neighborhood bar with Soho roots has been a Valley drinking spot since 1996 when it opened in its Esplanade location (2525 East Camelback Road, #120) near Biltmore Fashion Park.

MercBar had closed from summer to November 2019 for remodeling, and had been open for four months before being shut down by COVID-19 on March 17, 2020.

Owner Rick Phillips made the decision to remain closed throughout the past year. According to Phillips, he was anticipating an opening in September 2021, but Governor Doug Ducey's Executive Order 2021-05 gave him the push to reopen without having to navigate any restrictions.

Phillips ensures the newly remodeled bar will follow all safety guidelines. But he's also taken advantage of the shutdown to renovate a few things and provide more options for guests.

click to enlarge The Brimstone — a new drink found on the new drink menu. - RICK PHILLIPS
The Brimstone — a new drink found on the new drink menu.
Rick Phillips
First, the main bar and lounge area got a major refurbishing. And Phillips says the lounge-style seating will offer guests more space and privacy from other groups.

Next, the side room of MercBar, once used for private parties, will now be a members-only section. Here, guests will be offered a "first-class," or elevated experience, as Phillips puts it. While Phillips is still working out what this experience will include, for now, think tableside drink service and an exclusive spirit list.

Phillips also transformed a storage room in the back of the bar into what can be used as a private dining space or intimate tasting room.

The drink menu will combine new creations and old favorites collected from the bar's previous 27 menus, according to Phillips. A new addition is called The Brimstone, a mezcal cocktail with mango, lime, pear, and firewater bitters. 

As for food, guests will still be greeted with the standard glass cup of Goldfish crackers as they have been for 25 years.

Before COVID hit, Phillips had just completed a food menu he was ready to showcase at the bar. For this second reopening, Phillips has held back food offerings for now. However, this food menu will be unveiled in the near future.

Phillips hopes the renovations will lend themselves to a new demographic while sticking to MercBar's origins of being "just a bar."

"We’re simple, we’re classic," Phillips says. "We still want to be us, and we still want to be doing what we consider is a high-quality product."

MercBar's new hours will be 5 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday and Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are encouraged. Service will still be first come, first served for walk-ins.

See the MercBar website for more details.