Downtown Phoenix’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails has welcomed a new head bartender, Noah Momyer. Momyer made his way to the Valley from Seattle — where he worked at spots including Vessel, Monsoon, and Mistral Kitchen — in February. He spent a brief period working in Old Town Scottsdale before stepping into the Blue Hound position in May.
For the downtown Phoenix bar and restaurant, the move follows a relatively long, directionless few months after the departure of talented local mixologist Stephanie Teslar, who previously managed beverages for both Blue Hound and Kimpton Hotels. She left to open the recently debuted Stock & Stable and Honor Amongst Thieves, though she parted ways with both concepts after opening weekend. Teslar has since begun working in Austin, Texas.
Earlier this month, Momyer debuted Blue Hound's new summer cocktail menu, which is arguably the best menu with which Phoenicians can size up a new bartender. After all, summer may only last three months on the calendar, but summer drinks are what many Valley residents desire year-round.
Fortunately, the Pacific Northwest transplant seems to have a good handle on what Phoenicians like to drink. The Blue Hound summer menu looks to Mexico, Brazil, and the Caribbean for inspiration, making for an eclectic mix of cocktails.
The Meet Me In Rio is tall and refreshing. Momyer worked at a Brazilian restaurant early in his career, and based the cocktail off of a Brazilian drink called a batida, which translates to shaken in Portuguese. The Brazilian cocktail is made with an approximate mixture of coconut milk and/or fruit juice, cachaça (the Brazilian spirit of choice), and sugar shaken and served over ice. Momyer doesn’t over-complicate the recipe, but picks his favorite brand of cachaça, earthy and smooth Novo Fogo, and supplements it with Giffard’s irrefutably delicious banana liqueur. He muddles blueberries at the beginning and throws in mint and lime for added refreshment — plus a good hard shake. The cocktail tastes a little like blueberry yogurt or a drinkable kefir — so much so that it might tempt you into a morning tipple.
Any wise bartender knows they need to have a tiki drink on their menu, especially this time of the year. Momyer satisfies the requirement with a drink called the Caribbean Spirit.
“Tiki purists may not approve,” Momyer says, since tiki cocktails aren't typically served in a champagne coupe glass. Flavor-wise, however, the Caribbean Spirit is right there — Plantation Pineapple Rum Stiggin’s Fancy (a newly released Maison Ferrand brand spirit that’s taking bars by storm) delivers pineapple flavor and is combined with grapefruit liqueur, a ginger and almond liqueur called falernum, and lemon juice.
But not everything on the menu is so easy to like. Momyer admits The Baja Holiday has given him a little trouble. It involves freshly muddled jalapeño, which is problematic since heat level can vary widely from pepper to pepper. So it’s a spicy drink — potentially very spicy — and appeals to those who love savory cocktails, since the drink also involves muddled avocado and cilantro in addition to lemon and lime juices, agave syrup, and tequila.
“It’s drunken guacamole,” Momyer says.
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It’s ambitious — a fun idea for a Southwestern audience. The muddled avocado cools the drink and lends incredible texture. Momyer's still working on a way to get the the jalapeño flavor across with consistent levels of heat.
And if it’s something a little more spirit-forward you’re in the mood for, Momyer has one that will remind you a cooler place — a forest, perhaps, in the Pacific Northwest. The Dear Rosemary is a combination of bourbon, Giffard blackberry liqueur, and a unique Austrian pine needle liqueur. Lemon bitters give the mixture a little jolt.
“I’m trying to do some cool stuff and bring some originality,” Momyer says.
The summer menu should be received well — and hopefully, when the time comes and the temperature cools, Momyer can teach us a few lessons he’s learned from Seattle winters.