First Taste: Floral Cocktails and Fairy Tale Vibes Abound at The Rose Garden

The Voodoo Lily and Fleur de Paradis are two must-try drinks if you're craving something fruity and refreshing.
The Voodoo Lily and Fleur de Paradis are two must-try drinks if you're craving something fruity and refreshing. Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead, a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Amidst bustling construction workers, scorching concrete, and well-dressed professionals waiting for the light rail is an enchanted oasis tucked away from the chaos of downtown Phoenix.

Downtown’s new fairy tale-like craft cocktail bar, The Rose Garden opened this summer inside the U.S. Bank building. The new concept comes from the owners of two popular Valley businesses, Sip Coffee & Beer and 36 Below.

We went one peaceful Tuesday evening to test The Rose Garden mantra, “Every drink is a feast for the eyes and a treat for the lips.”
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The Rose Garden celebrated its grand opening in July 2022. This concept is by the same masterminds who brought us 36 Below and Sip Coffee & Beer.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
Inside, the intimate space flourishes with lush greenery, florals, and soft lights in hues of blue and green, creating the tranquility often found in a garden, and a welcoming change to the harsh city just outside.

Round tables are surrounded by cloud-like velvet chairs. The Rose Garden’s colorful mascot, an ornate peacock named Penrose, perches above. The sound of delicate piano music spills out into the room, transporting customers to a simpler time.

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The Rose Garden's calming ambiance is the perfect space to unwind with a craft cocktail after a long day.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
A greeting from a waitress brings us back down to Earth for a moment. The nature-inspired names on the cocktail list are accompanied by ingredients and photos of each drink, as customers undoubtedly make selections based on both flavor profile and appearance at this aesthetic-focused bar. 

Our first sips are of the fragrant and equally pretty Fleur de Paradis and the delightfully refreshing and velvety smooth Voodoo Lily. The Fleur de Paradis is a vibrant pink sparkling drink served in a wine glass speckled with a rainbow of dried flower petals. Fruity aromas invite you to sip on the blend of bubbles, hibiscus, tamarind, passionfruit, and citrus. An ideal cocktail for day drinking, this drink is undeniably refreshing.

Pro tip: Be careful to not touch the work of art on the outside of the glass or you may end up with sticky fingers. Honey adheres the dried florals to the glass.

The Voodoo Lily is a cucumber flavored drink with a pale melon tint and thin cucumber slices lining the inside of the glass. A waft of mint leaves readies your palate for the floral fusion of cucumber and mint-infused vodka, lychee, coconut water, lemon, and agave. It’s a bittersweet combination with a smooth, coconutty finish.

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Roses Thorn and Garden Pleasures are two unique citrusy cocktails on the menu.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
For fans of strawberry lemonade, try the Garden Pleasures. The refreshing summertime beverage is made with strawberry gin, rhubarb, basil, lemon, and demerara. An engraved ice cube features the letters “RG” etched into the top, completing a drink that is pretty, sophisticated, and downright tasty.

The Roses Thorn is a green tea cocktail that feels like it ought to be enjoyed during tea time on a Sunday afternoon. It’s made with green tea shochu, yuzu, guava, rose, lemon, and shiso bitters. You can order it as a single drink or a punch bowl to split between friends. A single serving arrives in a glass teacup and is garnished with flower petals.

Before ordering a bite to eat, we take advantage of the photo-worthy drinks and Instagrammable atmosphere. It's impossible to resist snapping a photo, cocktail in hand, beneath the vines drooping from the ceiling to the left of the bar.

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The Rose Garden has a select few items on the food menu including beef and Manchego empanadas with house-made chimichurri sauce.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
The simple food menu has six options, and on our visit, the date and goat cheese tart was sold out. The beef and Manchego empanadas are small fried pockets of seasoned meat served scattered on a wooden board and sprinkled with shredded white cheese. A gold cup of green parsley and garlic chimichurri comes beside them. The shell is a little too hard and the inside slightly dry, but it's nothing more delicious chimichurri can't fix. 

The Little Gem Caesar Salad is served on a peacock plate with a tower of lettuce, aged Manchego cheese, dried tomatoes, and toasted bread crumbs. Not overly drenched in dressing, the salad lacks flavor and it’s safe to say we could do without the hard dehydrated tomatoes. We picked those off, and decided to head elsewhere for dinner. 

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The Little Gem Caesar Salad is topped with aged Manchego cheese, dried tomatoes, and toasted bread crumbs.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
When the check arrives, the magic of The Rose Garden returns. The bill is hidden inside a box made to look like a book — a simple but unique touch.

This new cocktail bar is a sophisticated, mellow spot to grab a drink or two with your best gal pals or coworkers after a long day. The intimate, tranquil ambiance is a nice change of pace compared to the rowdier bars downtown. The cocktails are the real showstoppers, each beautifully crafted and thoughtfully poured into unique glassware garnished with fruit, flowers, or leaves.

This “secret garden” of sorts is a welcome addition to the Phoenix bar scene, bringing a little magic to downtown.  

The Rose Garden

101 North First Avenue
Hours: Daily 3 p.m. to midnight.
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Nikki Michelle Charnstrom is a writer and photographer living in Phoenix, Arizona. She writes the occasional poem on one of her 11 typewriters and is usually behind the camera on weekends. She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Her favorite pastimes include finding the best mimosa, game nights with friends, and exploring new places with her fiancé and their mini Aussie.