Big Brains

Kallen Schmerler: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Culinary Arts

You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 BigBrain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Kallen Schmerler.

There's no shortage of places to get a good drink in Phoenix. But even amid a growing number of restaurants and bars serving truly craft cocktails, Lux Central offers something unique.

The midtown hipster haven is a coffee shop and cocktail bar rolled into one, with an über-cool vibe that tends to attract creative types. They sink into the cozy chairs with a cup of joe during the day and belly up to the bar for a drink at night.

See also: Announcing the 2015 Big Brain Finalists

But you won't find a cocktail menu at the low-slung bar. Instead, Lux's stable of talented bartenders created drinks for each customer through dialogue. The process forces the drink-makers to find out what their patrons really want and gives them the freedom to create drinks that showcase their individual styles.

For Lux bartender Kallen Schmerler, that often means drinks as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. With a reputation for working with ingredients including St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Champagne, Schmerler crafts visually stunning cocktails garnished with everything from fresh fruit and herbs to lemon peels cut into miniature heart shapes.

When she's not behind the bar, Schmerler moonlights as a sketch artist. Earlier this year, she participated in the Ladies First annual art show at Jobot Coffee, alongside local names including Ashley Macias, Tara Logsdon, and Carrie Marill.

Schmerler declined to be interviewed for this piece, and Lux owner Jeff Fischer did not return multiple phone calls from New Times.

The 2015 Big Brain Award winners will be announced on Saturday, May 9, during New Times' Artopia, an evening of food, drink, art, and music at Monarch Theatre. For details and tickets, $25, visit

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria