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Rolling shrubberies on wheels, an entire menu page dedicated to honey, and antique glass punch bowls are the name of the game at Garden Bar, a new cocktail spot anticipated to open in downtown Phoenix early next year. 

After years of consulting on drinks menus for restaurants around the Valley, cocktail expert Kim Haasarud is now opening her own bar. In a historic bungalow off Roosevelt Street, Haasarud hopes to bring her passions for local ingredients, education and community together in one space. 

While the bungalow undergoes renovations, including the installation of 36 inches of poured concrete to replace what is currently a dirt floor, Haasarud is selling to-go cocktail kits and charcuterie boxes on the weekends.

The bar will be an indoor and outdoor space, Haasarud says, with “garden sanctuaries” decorated with items from her mom’s antique business. Customers will be able to sip cocktails among greenery and herbs they might also find in their drink. 

Garden Bar is set to open in the first quarter of 2021.

Here’s what to expect at Garden Bar

Throughout her career, Haasarud has left her mark on the cocktail industry in a big way. Not only is she the author of a series of eight cocktail books, she’s also appeared as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and has consulted with national chains including P.F. Chang’s on their drink menus.

Haasarud’s also a producer of Arizona Cocktail Week and the director and vice president of the U.S. Bartenders Guild. 

When she first walked into the historic 1914 bungalow on Sixth Avenue just south of Roosevelt Street, the way the light streamed in through the windows sold her on the space, she says. 

“It was like when you walk into a place and your shoulders just drop,” she says. 

She bought the historic bungalow a few years ago and has since run her cocktail consultancy business Liquid Architecture from the space. Over the years she also invited other bartenders, including Bobby Kramer, who now directs the beverage program at Chandler’s The Brickyard Downtown, to use the drink-development space for menu creation and events. The project evolved into a nonprofit cocktail collaborative called The Lab.

Now, the space will evolve again.

“It’s kind of an expansion of my consultancy and bringing in the public,” Haasarud says. 

The multiuse space will become a bar for the public while continuing to offer a place for industry professionals to gather. Haasarud plans to open the bar Thursday through Saturday nights and for Sunday brunch. The rest of the time, the space will serve its original purpose as a gathering and learning venue for bartenders with The Lab fully outfitted with tools, equipment, specialty syrups and garden-fresh ingredients, Haasarud says. 

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‘Garden to glass right to your doorstep’

While Garden Bar undergoes extensive renovations, Haasarud has started testing ideas for the menu. 

In late October, she launched “Weekender Kits” featuring cocktails or grazing boxes. Customers can choose between a variety of cocktails they want to make at home and place an order for delivery, bringing “garden to glass right to your doorstep,” Haasarud says.

The kits include a spirit, a freshly made mix and any garnishes the cocktails require.

“There are so many consumers that are intimidated, but anybody can make a great cocktail at home,” she says. “With the pandemic people are getting used to drinking at home and I don’t think that will go away.” 

Even after the bar opens, Haasarud plans to continue selling the kits in a small market space where she’ll also sell coffee beans from Chandler’s Peixoto Coffee Roasters, bitters, bar tools and specialty ice, Haasarud says. 

Current cocktail options include a Lemon Crackle gin and tonic kit made with chamomile and honeycomb, a five-citrus margarita, a honey lavender vodka soda, and a Coconutty Cooler made with coconut milk and rum.

The menu will also rotate through the seasons, Haasarud says. A “Bubbles and Botanicals” holiday kit with infused sugar cubes and Champagne will be available for Thanksgiving. 

The grazing boxes feature a variety of locally sourced ingredients to build you own charcuterie board, including meats and cheeses, nuts, fruit, chocolate, truffle butter and jam.

How the bar is taking ‘a slow food approach’

The motto at Garden Bar is “garden to glass” and Haasarud is making it a priority to use as many fresh and locally-grown ingredients as possible. Partnering with vendors she’s met at local farmers markets, Haasarud uses fresh-squeezed juices, Arizona honey and herbs she grows on the property. 

Ingredients found in the cocktail kits and grazing boxes will continue to be highlighted on the menu once the bar opens, Haasarud says.

The menu will showcase all of the ways various ingredients can be used by dedicating entire pages to a specific ingredient. Haasarud is particularly excited about one ingredient: honey. 

“I could really geek out on honey,” she says, laughing. “But it is a really great reflection of terroir because honey tastes like what the bees are eating.”

She plans to make a cocktail inspired by the classic Bees Knees but to teach customers how distinct honeys can taste by using different varieties in the same drink. She also plans to host educational experiences on The Lab side of her business such as honey varietal tastings.

Haasarud is also excited to feature mint on the menu. She’s working with local farmers to create a hybrid mint specially designed for her mint julep cocktails. 

“We want to take a zen, slow-food approach and really focus on highlighting the culinary aspect of the drinks,” she says. “Making drinks that are approachable and delicious.”

Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorris, on Facebook at Tirion Rose and on Instagram at tirionrose. 

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