The latest in move-ups and shake-downs in the metro Phoenix cocktail scene sees Okra bartender Riley Jones leaving his post to take up a new position at The Parlor pizzeria in central Phoenix.
The young bartender comes to the Parlor just after the departure of previous bar manager Michael Allmandinger. "It's some pretty big shoes to fill, " Jones says. "Literally. He's six-foot-five!" He also has respect for the pedigree of bartenders who have previously worked at The Parlor, which in addition to Allmandinger has included Joshua James, bar owner at The Clever Koi, and Libby Longlott, bar manager of The Bee's Knees.
Jones says he's excited to work alongside The Parlor team to get everyone on the same page. "Consistency is key," he says. "If a drink doesn't taste the same every time, customers get discouraged." Jones is also excited to elevate the The Parlor's cocktails while working within the framework of the existing program. He says while Allmandinger's menu was focused on Italian amari, he'll bring in additional flavors to balance the cocktail offerings.
"It's about getting people excited, getting them out of their comfort zone," he says.
Some of Jones' creations are already on the menu at The Parlor, including the Top-o-The-Morning, made with gin, meletti amaro, lemon, demerara sugar simple syrup, AZ Bitters Lab Sunshine Bitters, and prosecco. Another will feature Rutte Celery gin, lemon, egg white, brown sugar, Regan's orange bitters, and Lillet Blanc.
Bartender Bryan McCarrick will oversee the wine menu. Of Jones' arrival, McCarrick says, "I'm so excited. In the short period of time he's been doing it, he sometimes knows more than me."