Space Case: Wright Bar at Arizona Biltmore

Madison RutherfordMarch 3, 2023
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Though we don’t know the official opening date of the Arizona Biltmore resort’s historical cocktail lounge – named after a certain famous consulting architect – it is well-documented that Gene Sulit was behind the bar in the 1930s when a guest requested a refreshing poolside drink. The trailblazing tapster combined tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and club soda to invent what is now universally known as the Tequila Sunrise.

The bar has since undergone a series of transformations, most recently receiving a 2021 makeover from New York-based Virserius Studio. The firm’s founder, Therese Virserius, was tasked with maintaining the property’s illustrious past while remaining forward-thinking, evident in custom jewel-toned fixtures set against distinctive breeze blocks conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright. These contrasts “encourage the kind of socialization enjoyed by guests throughout the decades but allow for the spacing and flexibility current times dictate,” Virserius says.

Wright Bar at Arizona Biltmore 

2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix
Photo by Angelina Aragon
Photo by Angelina Aragon

1. Mirrored Ceiling
The bar’s palatial plafond is a nod to Wright’s famous geometric patterns “done in a monochromatic way so as to not draw attention from the rest of the design,” Virserius says.

2. Art Objects
From each gilded lamp on the bar top to the framed photographs and shelves behind it, art pieces were carefully curated for the space by Virserius and Paris-based studio Imaggo Production.

3. Bespoke Barstools
Sentiments from the past mingle with modern furniture and fabrics to “bring the property into the 21st century of comfort and convenience.”

4. Geometric Floor Tile
Each cerulean, midnight blue and teal tile in the bar’s parquet flooring was handpicked by Virserius.

5. 3-Dimensional Peacock Bar Tile
Custom tiles lining the bar evoke the tones and textures of peacock feathers as well as “the colors of the 1930s era of the eclectic arts and crafts movement and the Art Deco style.”