For the first time in more than five years, Michael Allmandinger will not be tending bar at The Parlor.
Allmandinger, who has been running the show at the well-respected cocktail spot since late 2013, has taken a sales job as a Spirit Specialist for Pacific Edge, a wine and craft spirits distributor based out of Southern California. The company maintains a spirits-only portfolio in Arizona, and the largest chunk of the company's selection lies in agave-based spirits — a departure from the whiskey and amaro-heavy stylings Allmandinger emphasized at The Parlor. Pacific Edge’s portfolio, he says, is consistent with the craft style and quality he first honed while working under Joshua James, now part-owner at Phoenix’s The Clever Koi, who opened and pioneered the restaurant's cocktail program.
This will also be Allmandinger’s first formal sales job.
“I like to prove that I can do something that I thought maybe I couldn’t,” Allmandinger says. “What better way to do that than sales?”
The move comes just a month or so after ex-Parlor running-mate Libby Longlott left the restaurant to open up The Bees Knees, a Prohibition-era cocktail bar at new The Camby Hotel, which lies just up the street from the Parlor in the Biltmore neighborhood.
Allmandinger’s departure is also consistent with a recent shift in Phoenix’s current generation of cocktail program managers, who are beginning to move to the other side of the bar — the sales and brand representation side. In the last few months, Arizona Culinary Hall of Famers Travis Nass left his post at the The Hermosa Inn to team up with Tempe-based CaskWerks Distillery. In the same month, Andrew Calisterio left Okra and moved to California to become a brand representative for House Spirits, best known for their Aviation gin.
Whether they'e ready or not, the next generation of bartenders at these popular cocktail bars will have big shoes to fill. The Parlor, Allmandinger says, is close to making its decision on who will fill the bar manager position. We can only hope they have as much of an affection for amari, and the drive to maintain The Parlor as a top-five Valley cocktail program.
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Until then, Allmandinger says he'll continue to work in some capacity with The Parlor. There’s a possibility he’ll continue to work a weekly weekend shift or two in the upcoming months as well.
“I do have [a] wedding coming up,” he says.