2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.
Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.
Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.
The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.
Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.
Things are perking up on High Street with the announcement of The Stir and Gin and Reel opening later this year. Comedian and entrepreneur Rick Bronson is behind the “old school” coffee shop and speakeasy concept. If all goes as planned with construction coffee, cocktails and conversation will begin in September.
“The Stir and Gin and Reel is unlike anything in the North Phoenix/North Scottsdale area,” says owner and proprietor Rick Bronson, who also owns Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy on High Street. “I take great pride in creating concepts with environments that encourage the spirit of human connection as it once existed and that people long for today.”
Coffee, cocktails and food.
The Stir will be serving coffee beverages, coffee cocktails, food and ice cream daily at 6 a.m. Enjoy a “Kick in the Pants” made with cold brew, rum, cold brew liqueur, Mexican Coke & cream or a Coffee Old Fashioned.
For breakfast or lunch diners can enjoy pastries, sandwiches and salads including the BBLT(bacon, lettuce, tomato and turkey). Small plates at the bar will include Deviled Eggs, Lobster Canapes and a Caprese Salad. Boozy milkshakes and alcohol-less ice cream treats will also be available.
At 3 p.m. Gin and Reel opens if you can find the hidden entrance at the back of The Stir. The intimate speakeasy will have the atmosphere of Old Hollywood with vintage photos, directors chairs at the bar and black & white films playing. Prohibition era cocktails like the Manhattan or Sazerac will be served until 10 p.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends.
The weather may not feel like Christmas but you can get in the spirit of the holiday for 3 days later this month. July 25th- 27th is when The Little Woody will celebrate “Christmas in July” with special events and festive cocktails to support New Pathways for Youth.
The Arcadia speakeasy kicks of the three days on Thurs. 7/25 with “Christmas Carol Karaoke” from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. On Fri. the 26th guests are encouraged to wear their favorite Hawaiian shirt to win a prize from 8-11 p.m. Santa Claus makes an appearance on the 27th and enjoy a bowl of homemade chili with jolly St. Nick. On the 27th The Little Woody will be collecting school supplies.
New Pathways for Youth helps children from 12-21 years old suffering from abuse, poverty, neglect and substance abuse. Mentors help them with life skills and personal development through workshops and retreats to get them on track for better life they desire.
There is no cost to attend “Christmas in July”, food and drink will be available for purchase.
The Little Woody is at 4228 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix 85018. For reservations call (602)955-0339 or visit their website.
With the growth of downtown Gilbert’s dining scene the last few years there has been little original concepts that have opened. Later this year The White Rabbit will open adding an original concept to along Gilbert Road as owners Nick Medina and Corey Potts open the first speakeasy in the east valley.
When The White Rabbit opens in the basement of the Heritage Court Building it will serve as a meeting place for those who want to start or finish their evening with a classic handcrafted cocktail, glass of wine, local craft beer or distilled spirit.
In addition to the libations served guests will have a true speakeasy experience as the out-of-the-way location, secret door and password allow you entry to the sophistication and ambiance of a by gone era.
The White Rabbit cocktails
Whether it’s a classic Old Fashioned, Tom Collins or trending cocktails and concoctions, all drinks will be made using the highest quality and freshest ingredients. “Drink Experiences” are available for small groups.
A small bites menu including charcuterie boards and olive bowls will also be served.
Help wanted at The White Rabbit
Owners Medina and Potts are looking to hire a General Manager to operate the The White Rabbit and execute the speakeasy experience the way the owners envision.
Passion and the ability to hire, motivate and train the staff are part of what the owners are looking for.
“Gilbert is the perfect place for this concept because while it has many great dining destinations, we are bringing the first authentic high-end bar concept to the area. When guests enter, they will feel like they are stepping into a true speakeasy experience. Right now, we’re excited to hire the right leadership and staff to take that guest experience to the next level.”
Qualified candidates can send a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Check back for updates as the opening later in 2018 gets closer.
The White Rabbit will be at 207 N. Gilbert Rd. #002 Gilbert. 85234. Visit there website.