When Citizen Public House opened in 2011, there wasn't really a craft cocktail "scene" in this town to speak of. The restaurant's bar program, led by mixologist Richie Moe, was really the only one around. Of course, that's changed in the past three years -- as have things at the Scottsdale restaurant, which now includes a speakeasy bar upstairs and a sister restaurant, The Gladly.
For starters, as of about a month ago, Moe no longer is part of Citizen Public House or any of its associated restaurants and bars. Both he and Kantak are tight-lipped on the details of the split (Moe says it's because they're still negotiating a settlement), but did share that he has a new project coming soon with "lots of familiar faces." And with Moe moving on to something new, there's now space for some up-and-coming talent to take center stage.
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Citizen Public House's bar program now rests in the hands of Brandon Casey, who's been with the restaurant for about the past two years. During much of that time he worked as Moe's right-hand man, collaborating on projects such as the carbonated and bottled cocktails they created for New Year's Eve 2013.
And though Casey will be taking on the sort of "head mixologist" role left open with Moe's departure, each of the bars (at The Gladly and Citizen R+D) will also have its own head mixologist. At R+D, Chris Korf, who's been at the restaurant since it opened, will be taking the lead, while The Gladly will be overseen by Brian Goodwin.
"They each had a big hand in what was going on before," Kantak says of the new bar leadership.
Casey says the biggest challenge moving forward will be keeping everything true to Citizen's signature style -- contemporary, American, stylish, fun -- while continuing to push the boundaries of cocktail culture. "Being dorky, within bounds," as he puts it.
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Prior to landing a job behind the bar at Citizen, Casey worked at bars on Mill Avenue, slinging $3 Long Island Ice Teas at Cue Club and working as a manager at Chronic Taco. It was by chance that he met Moe at a bartending competition and though Casey says he never aspired to be a mixologist, he started working with Moe and fell in love with the craft.
As for the rest of the changes around Citizen and its associated bars/restaurants, the second biggest might be that Citizen R+D will now be open on Wednesday nights. Casey and Kantak say Wednesdays will be more "style specific" with guest bartenders invited behind the bar for a night. They're also working on adding more draft cocktails at The Gladly, where Tracy Dempsey will be taking over the dessert menu as of April 15.
The cocktail menu at Citizen just got a rewrite on Friday and now features spring-themed drinks designed to be "crushable," or easy to drink so they don't melt in the forthcoming summer heat. The menu includes such creations as the Tulip'git to Quit, a take on a gin and juice that features Nolet's gin, Maraschino liqueur, housemade cold-pressed Korean pear, pineapple and carrot juices. You can check out the complete menu on the Citizen Public House website.