Booze Flash : Bar 1912

Sara CrockerJune 2, 2022
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bar manager Aiden Dunnigan pours a Chartreuse Float | Photo by Sara Crocker 

As a consumer hungry for all the Phoenix news that’s fit to eat and drink, you don’t need me to tell you to go to Valentine. But, if you’re as smitten with Arizona, its history and its potable bounty, then you do need to head to the back of the building to Bar 1912.

“The Southwest is a gastronomical empire,” says Chadwick Price, who helms Valentine and Bar 1912 with Blaise Farber, and the bar allows another exploration of its history and ingredients.

Initially only open on the weekends, Bar 1912 expanded its hours to Wednesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., first come, first served, when it hit its first birthday in February.

The Vibe
Taking inspiration from mission revival style, the space is modern and monochromatic – soft white and creams drape the space, with accents of wood, iron and leather. A tall patinated hood adorns an ever-burning gas fireplace. Arched walls carve out niches for infusions featuring foraged ingredients as well as the turntable and staff-curated vinyl collection that spins each night to cultivate the warmth of Japanese listening rooms. It all comes together to create a feeling of comfort, while still evoking a sense of occasion.

The Drinks
The cocktails are informed by classics but take inspiration from the state’s varied natural environs and its historic industries. Cocktails range from $15 to $18 and bar snacks, available until midnight, range from $5 to $11.

We start with the Chaparral; inspired by Sedona, it features manzanilla, vodka, sage tea, sour apple and Prescott’s Stoic Cider. The drink is batched, carbonated and poured over ice into a chilled glass. Delicate notes of apple and chamomile play against the herbaceousness of the tea – like a dry, hopped hard cider, the aroma of sage wafting from the leaf floating delicately atop.

Cattle, taking a cue from Arizona’s ranching history, is a smoky, silky homage to a Manhattan, with bone marrow and añejo tequila.

“I liken it to the ribeye that you can get out front,” says bar manager Aiden Dunnigan, smiling as he passes the drink over.

To be clear, it is not beefy, but the same care to the finished product is evident. A single-malt from Tucson-based Whiskey Del Bac is infused with the tallow, frozen and separated, removing the fat but rounding out the flavor and feel of the whiskey. “It turns 100 proof whiskey into velvet,” Dunnigan says. From start to finish, each component is smoked. As Dunnigan mixes, a coupe glass creates a cloche over burning mesquite chips. The result is warm, but not overwhelmingly charred.

Sticking on the industry side of the menu, we try Citrus. Limoncello from Buddha’s Hand citron and hop water – a dry-hopped sparkling water – are topped with a yellow chartreuse cream. It’s simple, bright and just a little bitter.

We snack while we sip, and the offerings likewise take a nod from classics, giving salty bar favorites – pub cheese, pickled eggs, nuts and olives – an elevated twist. The pub cheese here is whipped pimento-raclette, with house-made crackers that are buttery yet nutty from Sonoran white wheat. The pickled quail eggs are a must-try, packed with umami from shitake mushrooms and tamari.

Thirsty for more?
Another nod to a childhood favorite is a featured cocktail, the Chartreuse Float, combining Arizona’s Own Sarsaparilla with green chartreuse and mesquite-smoked vanilla ice cream, topped with yellow chartreuse foam and lava salt. It’s herbal and smoky, yet comfortingly sweet. Another nightcap that could stand in as dessert? Try the Cotton with its whimsical pistachio cotton candy topper.

Bar 1912 offers another layer to the experience being cultivated in the Modern Manor building in Melrose – and it’s one that’s evolving. Price teased that an evolution of the cocktail menu is coming in September, focusing on the old world meeting the new.

Bar 1912, 4130 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix,