It's been quite a while since Peter Kasperski, owner of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar, announced plans to turn the former FnB restaurant space into Counter Intuitive. The original idea was for the space to be a quick-service restaurant by day, bar at night, and an extension of Cowboy Ciao during dinner hours, but over the past year, Kasperski has played with several ideas and iterations of that multi-use concept. Now, more than two years since FnB pulled up stakes, Kasperski is ready to unveil the final concept.
"We didn't rush it," Kasperski says. "I wanted the right thing to happen at the right time."
Counter Intuitive, which will open on Friday, will be a late-night cocktail lounge open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At all other times, the space will serve as event space for private parties.
The concept is designed to be ever-changing, with new themed cocktail menus debuting three times a year. Each menu will take inspiration from a "person, place, time, event, or happening," Kasperski says.
If that type of Dead Rabbit-esque storytelling menu doesn't already sound exciting, consider that Kasperski's tapped two of the biggest names in the Valley drinking scene for the spot. Jason Asher and Micah Olson have collaborated on the menu, and though neither will be behind the bar at the spot full-time, Kasperski has assembled a team of competition bartenders to work there. Cocktail enthusiasts will find familiar faces from the Cowboy Ciao bar and other "disciples of Asher," Kasperski says.
So what exactly can you expect at Counter Intuitive's debut? The first theme will be a New Orleans Estate Sale, inspired by a fictional character loosely -- very loosely -- modeled after chef Garrison Whiting's grandfather.
For researching the first menu, Kasperski says, he traveled to New Orleans and hunted through antique stores to build a collection of items the inspirational character might have owned. Many of the items Kasperski collected will be available for purchase at an "estate sale" inside Counter Intuitive. The menu will even include an obituary for the main character.
In addition to a selection of New Orleans-inspired cocktails, the lounge will serve a rotating menu of small plates. Kasperski says Whiting has created a "stunning gumbo" for the menu as well as house-cured bacon and shrimp remoulade deviled eggs. Cowboy Ciao pastry chef Country Velador will be baking bread for the new spot and the menu includes an adult root beer float made with her cedar ice cream.
For those who just can't wait until the end of the week to check it out, you'll be able to get inside Counter Intuitive tomorrow night for the Jade Bar Reunion, part of Arizona Cocktail Week. The event will bring back some of the best Jade Bar alumni including Jason Asher, Micah Olson, Clint Spotleson, and Jillian Vose. For that special event, each bartender has created a new take on a classic New Orleans cocktail.
"They went deep history," Kasperski says.
Admission to the Jade Bar Reunion at Counter Intuitive costs $25 and includes three cocktails and appetizers.