Mining Inspiration From the Natural World, Quartz Cocktail Bar Opens This Week

Cocktails at Quartz are inspired by birthstones.
Cocktails at Quartz are inspired by birthstones. Grace Stufkosky
What's better than one new cocktail bar? At Quartz, the answer is two. The new concept, featuring two distinct spaces to drink with different menus that take inspiration from the natural world, is set to open on Thursday, April 20.

Located on Fourth Avenue and Van Buren Street, the main bar will pour richly colorful and inventive cocktails modeled after birthstones – the gems that align with each month of the year.

Tucked behind the bar is The Cave at Quartz, a 90-minute, immersive drinking experience with libations inspired by deserts from around the world. It’s a one-two punch that its founders hope will draw casual concertgoers and special-occasion seekers alike to savor the unique, playful sips at one of the bars' 80 seats.

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Paul Waxman, Maxwell Berlin, Robert Cissell, and Chuckie Duff are the team behind the cocktail bar Quartz.
Grace Stufkosky
The concept is a collaboration between three Valley heavy hitters: Instrumental Hospitality, Chuckie Duff, and Maxwell Berlin. Instrumental Hospitality created Southeast Asian restaurant Belly Kitchen & Bar and the downtown vegetarian eatery Sin Muerte. Duff co-owns the eclectic Cobra Arcade Bar, Rebel Lounge, and Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop. Berlin is formerly of the celebrated Thai restaurant Glai Baan, whose wine and beverage program was nominated for a James Beard Award this year.

Duff came up with the original concept of a desert-inspired bar. Instrumental Hospitality's beverage director Paul Waxman says he's wanted to find an opportunity to work with Berlin, and this marks their first foray into creating a place that's for drinks only.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to expand from what we’ve both done and offer something really special and unique,” Berlin says of the partnership.

A Peek Inside

The front bar will cater to walk-in customers looking to stop by for a drink sans reservations. Residing in the historic Welnick Marketplace and Liefgreen Seed Co. building, the inside is modern and sleek, with a brass bar top, reflecting a looped rope light that hangs just overhead. Above, nodding to the geologic inspiration, hangs a craggy slab of rock that spans the run of the bar.

Behind the bar is The Cave at Quartz, which will require advance reservations. Rose gold mirrored tiles create a crystal effect inside, a juxtaposition of the moody, cozy front of Quartz. Interior designer Sophia Pappas brought the two spaces to life.

Though the owners had not originally planned on opening two concepts, the best fit for the layout was dividing the bar into separate spaces, which meant "an opportunity to create two experiences instead of one," Waxman says. The Cave portion of the concept won’t open on April 20, but Waxman and Berlin promise it will be unique and immersive.

“It called to be just a little more,” Waxman says of The Cave. “A little more fun, a little louder, a little weirder.”

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The Rohang Ruby is Quartz's take on a spicy margarita, infusing the flavors of Myanmar – Burmese masala, hibiscus, lime, lemongrass, and fish sauce.
Grace Stufkosky

What’s on the Menu?

Quartz’s drink cocktail menu includes a drink inspired by each of the 12 birthstones, while The Cave’s drink menu will take inspiration from deserts across the globe, from the Sonoran Desert to Antarctica.

“Deserts are everywhere," Berlin says, "including the largest continent, which is just a desert, which is crazy."

The crew behind Quartz has taken diners and drinkers globetrotting through their other concepts – and Berlin also studied geography in college. They plan to continue exploring the world with their customers at Quartz.

Take the Rohang Ruby. A version of a spicy margarita, it infuses the flavors of Myanmar – Burmese masala, hibiscus, lime, lemongrass, and fish sauce – to pay homage to a region where rubies are mined and to call attention to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Turquoise Dilemma draws inspiration from a gem that’s closer to home. The drink is not the bright teal of the stone, but instead takes a nod from the places where it’s found. A take on an Old Fashioned, it’s made with whiskeys from Arizona and Mexico and stirred with mesquite honey, brown sugar, and spiced bitters. It’s served on the rocks – and drinkers will see a piece of actual turquoise frozen within the ice.

While the team will share historic and current stories of people and places through cocktails, they are also looking beyond place, with nods to whimsical, fictional people and places, too. “With a cocktail, you can create a story,” Waxman says. “What Quartz is doing that is really different is it’s able to create these new stories. These cocktails, though they may be based off of classics, you can’t get this cocktail anywhere else.”

The cocktails in the front bar will range from $15-18. The menu will also feature mocktails, beer, and wine.

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Quartz will offer two bars in one. The main menu takes inspiration from birthstones. The Cave at Quartz will be an immersive experience that draws inspiration from deserts around the world.
Grace Stufkosky
For The Cave at Quartz, Waxman and Berlin are still finalizing the menu but say it will be unlike other cocktail experiences in the Valley.

“This is going to be a fully immersive, interactive environment,” Waxman says, explaining that the drinks will feature unique glassware and presentation that plays to all five senses.

But, that certainly doesn’t mean it will be a “stuffy, fine-dining bar experience," Berlin says.

“We want to provide something that you haven’t seen yet,” he says. “All of it is highly curated, but in the most fun way possible.”


Opens April 20
341 West Van Buren Street
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday.
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Sara Crocker is a food writer for Phoenix New Times. She has called Phoenix home since 2020, getting to know the Valley through every restaurant, brewery and bar she can. Her work has also appeared in Phoenix Magazine, Phoenix Home & Garden and The Denver Post.
Contact: Sara Crocker

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