It’s not easy to replicate the experience of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, the award-winning cocktail bar in downtown Phoenix, at home ... but it’s not impossible.
First you need posh banquette seating, hypnotic tunes humming over state-of-the-art speakers and a swank atmosphere to match. Next, you need 350-plus premium spirits and a behemoth “Book O' Cocktails" bar menu filled with page after page of curious and classic cocktails — lusty layered libations that’ll get you drunk on flavor before they get you actually drunk. You’ll also need a giant Attack of the 50 Foot Woman poster plastered to your wall, a 40-foot-long bar, ice made from nano-filtered water (it’s infinitely better), and a stellar staff to shake, stir, and serve the crafty creations. Oh, and a virtual Ross Simon, the nationally recognized cocktail slinger behind Bitter & Twisted, overseeing it all.
Scratch that: It’s bloody impossible to re-create the Bitter & Twisted experience at home. But you can mix up the lively Lemongrass Collins on your own. Historically made with gin, this spin on the Tom Collins has been a top seller since Bitter & Twisted opened in 2014. The addition of lemongrass and vanilla raise the roof on flavor, plus it includes infused booze for added zing. And with Ross Simon talking you through the recipe, it’s as easy to make it as it is to down it.
If you aren't familiar, Simon came to Phoenix by way of Scotland with a detour in London where a mixed drink spiked with fresh passion fruit juice changed everything. Ah, drinks aren’t just to drink; they’re to surprise, tell a story, transport, even seduce. That was the light bulb moment that eventually brought Simon to Phoenix, where he’s not only defined upscale cocktail culture in the Valley; he more or less created it.
As well as Bitter & Twisted, Simon is co-owner of the neighboring Little Rituals and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Weekend. What's more, he's the brains behind the soon-to-open Lylo Pool Bar at ARRIVE Phoenix.
Now that you're well versed, get ready to roll up your sleeves, bust out your swizzle sticks, and bring a sip of Bitter & Twisted home.
Lemongrass Collins Recipe from Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
1 stalk lemongrass
1 liter vodka
“We use Wódka from Poland," Simon says. "It’s a clean, quality vodka that’s versatile for many cocktails — and it's a great price."
1. Trim lemongrass ends. Lightly mash with a rolling pin to release flavors.
2. Transfer vodka into a covered container or large-enough jar (keep the bottle if you want to transfer back later).
3. Drop lemongrass into the vodka and leave for at least one week.
4. Strain out lemongrass after a good flavor has been reached.
20 ounces (2 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces
1. Combine sugar and vanilla in a food processor.
2. Whirl for two minutes, careful not to over-blend into powder.
3. Strain out any larger pieces and store in a sealed container.
“The leftover vanilla sugar is great for baking or to spice up your morning cup of Joe,” says Simon.
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1 1/2 ounces lemongrass vodka
1/2 ounce Giffard Vanille de Madagascar liqueur
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
4 to 5 ounces Big Marble Organics Ginger Beer
1. Fill a tall pilsner glass halfway with crushed ice. Add first four ingredients and half the ginger beer.
2. Swizzle stir until the sugar dissolves.
3. Top with remaining ginger beer.
4. Garnish with lemongrass, a sprig of mint, and a compostable or reusable straw.
“Big Marble is a local, organic, ginger beer just launched by Danielle Leoni and Dwayne Allen of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar," Simon says. "Gosling’s Ginger Beer is also good, not too fiery with a ginger-forward flavor.”
Finally, you can feel even more immersed while sipping the above if you're wearing one of Bitter & Twisted's Attack of the 50 Foot Woman fundraiser tees — on sale till May 15.