It's easier to cover and find coverage of the guys at large behind your favorite the bar; guys like The Parlor's Michael Allmandinger, who runs one of the more exciting, unique bar programs in the Valley, with rare liquors and fresh ingredients -- but how often do we hear about the protégés; the next generation? Or a dynamic duo behind the bar, for that matter?
You can find such a narrative in The Parlor's Libby Longlott, if you wish. But it's clear to me: The generation trickle-down of bar keep and knowledge is in effect -- Joshua James originally mentored Allmandinger before beginning a new venture of his own in the Clever Koi, and it's clear that Allmandinger is bringing up the next generation in Longlott.
So what do you get from three generations of The Parlor cocktail excellence? When you ask for an exciting spring cocktail, in this case, you get the protégé's pride and joy: The Roosevelt. It's a pretty drink with pink peppercorn zip, fresh sage herbaciousness, the subtle fruitiness of apricot preserves, and fresh lemon (long live Arizona citrus) -- and never in first sip nor second does any of it play first fiddle to menagerie of Copper City Moonshine from Tempe's Arizona Distilling Company or the affable, yellow chartreuse. Better believe it's spiked with Peychaud's bitters, and bitter-believe it's bittered yet again with a mist of Bitter Truth's Decanter Bitters -- like dragging it through cloves. Ask for something refreshing, something that evokes spring; "a transitional cocktail between Spring and Summer... with its feet planted in the desert," said Longlott, and chances are strong -- very strong, if you use that quote -- that you'll get her creation.
Tell us a little about where you're at with the Spring menu.
MA: Some are in the spot of kind of playing it safe, in a sense, to a certain extent, with a lot of whiskey drinks in the winter -- a lot of gin in the summer -- making it bright that way, but what I want to do this time is to really still showcase some whiskey, some really nice mescals, and some amaros, some of those kind of deeper spirits, but really brighten them up in a way with having the seasonal herbs, vegetable and fruits or whatever we can, but try not to automatically go vodka/gin just because it's summer, to showcase these spirits and how you can really make them that diverse for any season
Are there any examples of lighter whiskeys -- or, you know, those deeper spirits but lighter versions -- that you can mess around with?
MA: Yeah, there are. We've really been beefing up our whiskey collection. I think depending on how people are aging it or distilling it with different percentages of corn or barely or whatever --
LL: And what they're aging it in.
MA: Yeah, what they're aging it with, or how long they're aging it -- you can definitely get softer. As far as whiskey though, the softer you get, and then as far as then brightening it up, I feel like -- at least for me -- I want to just enjoy that. Something that light, something that smooth, you know, I want to be able to enjoy just that flavor. So I want to be able to use the darker, maybe harsher whiskey or something with a lot of character to it, and then compliment it with other things and compliment it in that way.
LL: With the seasonal ingredients, lighter citrus notes, that sort of thing. Bitters.
So a less obvious way to reach the spring profiles.
MA: Yeah, you know, trying to get out there. Being with the italian restaurant one thing that we're doing is wanting to have the cocktail focus be just as the dining experience -- have it be a coursed out meal. We're starting to do more of an aperitif section, and then with the meat of the menu have some heartier cocktails, and later showcase some nice amaros, some digestifs, and show how they can be complimented inside of a cocktail as well by mixing them all up
LL: And like for example, with the garden to glass concept, we're thinking of using some of the vegetables we're growing in our own garden -- peppers, serranos, green chiles -- that sort of thing. Keeping it light. Going to use some blood orange potentially.