By Alison Bailin Batz / Photos by Little Rituals
Some say “two heads are better than one.” Others warn against “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Thankfully, when it comes to Little Rituals, the former is absolutely the case.
The brainchild of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour founder Ross Simon and Casino del Sol’s former chief mixologist Aaron DeFeo – both award winners several times over for their innovation and tireless work to elevate Arizona’s cocktail industry – Little Rituals is a legitimate first-ever concept to come to the Valley.
“We’re a stylish, progressive spot located on the fourth floor of the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown, which is the newest high-rise hotel downtown,” Simon explains. “But unlike most ‘hotel bars,’ which usually operate from within as part of the brand’s larger food and beverage department, Little Rituals is a wholly independent entity.”
Similar concepts – notably Broken Shaker in Miami’s Freehand Hotel and Death & Co. in Denver’s Ramble Hotel – have recently been making waves.
“We are in full control of all aspects of Little Rituals, which allows us to bring a new level of amenities to hotel guests and really connect with the local community,” says DeFeo, who adds there are extensive staff training and drink preparation programs in place to create the dozens of housemade infusions, garnishes, syrups, and foams.
The training is evident already – within days of opening, Little Rituals’ bartender Chanel Godwin-McMaken won Arizona Cocktail Weekend’s Last Slinger Standing competition, a showdown hosted by the United States Bartending Guild to find the best mixologists in the Southwest.
So, given all this, what can one expect from the cocktail menu?
“The menu is broken down into six categories, each featuring five cocktails: Daily Rituals, perfect beginnings or ends to any evening; Delicious Rituals, exciting flavor combinations one might not expect; Cooling Rituals, spicy yet soothing concoctions; Stirred & Silky Rituals, twists on the classics; Indulgent Rituals, more complex cocktails; and Shared Rituals, an ever-changing selection of punches, pitchers and even food and drink combos,” Simon says.
It also features a rather unique emphasis on fortified and aromatized wines, such as vermouth and sherry. There are, of course, also beer and wine options.
The cocktail menu is complemented by a 10-item small bites menu designed by Bitter & Twisted chef Bob Tam, as well as spirit-infused baked goods and sweets by Lauren Klein, Little Rituals’ in-house pastry chef. The options run the gamut from vegan-friendly Beet Carpaccio to a bacon board. Given Tam is a Hong Kong native, there are also Asian-inspired items including an Asian-Italian Carbonara Lo Mein and a “Pho” French Dip.
Little Rituals is open daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and offers “Aperitivo hour” (happy hour) 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with discounts on a rotating menu of beers, wines cocktails and select bar bites. Little Rituals, 132 S. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602.603.2050; www.littleritualsbar.com.