Despite the name, Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted is incredibly friendly and quite well-ordered. The large, banquette-filled room boasts a circus theme, yet the high ceilings, tasteful design and expansive culinary offerings are more Cirque du Soleil than travelling Big Top. Publican Ross Simon clearly loves cocktails; his resume includes London’s late Bar Lab as well as co-founding Arizona Cocktail Weekend. That passion is on full display at Bitter, a temple to craft libations.
Simon’s signature Lemongrass Collins (vodka, lemongrass, vanilla, lemon juice, ginger beer) is a favourite among regulars, but the 25-page tome of a menu offers plenty of other options. Each drink is complex, invoking the bar’s famed multilayer flavours requires intricate preparations – even the five varieties of ice are nano-filtered. If you’d rather a simpler sip, Bitter also boasts a comprehensive spirits lists of nearly 400 bottles ranging from artisanal mezcals to unicorn whiskeys.
The food end is handled by Gemini Pizza. The outfit keeps revelers sated with a basic menu of elevated bar food like popcorn seasoned with butter, garlic, furikake and togarashi. The combined experience is perfect for a celebratory night out – but prepare to come back, taking in all three rings requires several nights.