Kim Haasarud has built and opened plenty of bars before. However, Garden Bar PHX
is different — it's the first bar that the renowned mixologist gets to call her own.
Garden Bar is a renovated 1914 Phoenix bungalow in the Roosevelt neighborhood. The house still has walls and partitions that make it feel like a home.
The seven-top bar next to a fireplace is the first focal point, but there are several "rooms" to explore, each with couches and oversized chairs. The lighting is dim, candles flicker, and there is something profoundly comforting about the atmosphere in Garden Bar that makes patrons want to stay.
It's is a new kind of neighborhood bar. It's a kind of bar where, for the first two minutes, you feel like you're intruding on your neighbors' evening, but the concern melts once you're seated and take a minute to look through the menu.
The cocktail menu is on a seasonal rotation. Garden Bar currently serves winter drinks like Figgy Pudding, Cranberry Jubilee, and I Yam What I Yam — a festive take on a classic painkiller. They are inspired by what drinks would be served around the table during the holidays in 1914.
Haasarud is not just any Arizona mixologist. She has a storied cocktail career that spans decades and includes James Beard honors. She's also the founder of the AZ Cocktail Weekend
, board member for the US Bartender's Guild, and has worked with tens of bars and beverage brands like Campari, PF Chang's, and everything in between.
The ingredients of each cocktail show the complexity that Garden Bar brings to the neighborhood. Instead of rum, which tends to be heavier on spice, Haasarud uses a spirit called cachaça
, which is similar to rum, but local to Brazil and Argentina. The spirit is less spicy and milder, like a banana, which pairs well with the other ingredients.
Get cozy at Garden Bar PHX.
The rest of the menu is a blend of classic cocktails and more experimental. It provides something for almost anyone. Standout cocktails include the Queen Bee, where the bartender cuts off a fresh piece of honeycomb for garnish. Next is the Plush Port Punch, an old recipe for clarified milk punch with a twist and rosebud garnish. The Green Bean Almondine combines green beans, black pepper, and almonds in a way that's difficult way to imitate. Haasarud's attention to detail is evident in every sip.
The cocktail menu experience is set up as "garden-to-glass" – like farm-to-table, the ingredients of the cocktails celebrate the seasonally available fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other flavors, but it goes one step further. Haasarud is meticulous about sourcing fresh and local ingredients when possible.
Garden Bar also has a backyard. Some of it is a relaxing outdoor patio, while the rest will be a garden. Like any garden, it takes time, so it's not producing ingredients quite yet, but it will soon.
"We have raised garden beds for each of our bartenders where they can plant ingredients they want to use. We have one that's interested in vegetal profiles, so in a year, they'll have their tomatoes," Haasarud says. "We are currently growing mint that we hope will be ready to harvest by Derby Day [May 7]."
Garden Bar PHX is working to be sustainable, and aims to have a negative carbon footprint in a few years. Part of that journey is producing their ingredients, but the other part is sourcing locally and using as many aspects of ingredients as possible, Haasarud says. Their house-made cordial, already on the menu, is one such beverage. It's made from citrus peels and husks.
If alcohol isn't your thing, they have several cocktails available as spirit-free and non-alcoholic alternatives to gin, whiskey, tequila, and more. For food, there are grazing boards with meats, cheeses, and other delicacies from around the U.S.
Garden Bar is open Thursday through Saturday evenings, and seating is first-come, first-serve. Sunday brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Patrons can get a brunch grazing board and various garden-to-glass-style brunch cocktails.
The bar sells to-go cocktail kits that serve four or eight people. Kits are available on their website and include signature cocktails like a chai rye old-fashioned and a salted citrus margarita.
In addition to being the neighborhood go-to for garden-to-glass cocktails, Garden Bar is home to Haasarud's nonprofit, The Cocktail Collaborative
. "The Lab," as it's called, is a membership-based nonprofit which hosts classes, networking sessions, and other events for bartenders, enthusiasts, and industry professionals.
Garden Bar PHX
822 North Sixth Avenue
Thursday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.