Bitter & Twisted’s Ross Simon is the Bill Nye of cocktails, the Neil deGrasse Tyson of spirits, the kind of mixologist who transfixes you with the chemistry and history of the torched/shaken/flawlessly frozen imbibement sweating on the bar in front of you.
Oh, and everything tastes good, too.
For fans of the Arizona Cocktail Week co-founder and owner of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, there’s a handful of new Simon originals (and a few cocktails he’s borrowed from his favorite mixologists in London) to try.
Bitter & Twisted launched an updated menu on May 19, organized in sci-fi themed categories. The cover, designed by Matt Andrews, is a modern take on “Forbidden Planet,” the campy sci-fi that rips Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” The whole menu is nerdastic. Simon, who handled all the menu’s campy editorial and conceptualizing of sci-fi tie-ins, hopes it’s a hit when Comic Con comes through town. [Speaking of “Doctor Who,” we also never realized how much Simon looks like David Tennant. (Insert revelatory Tardis sound here.)]
About 25 percent of the menu is new, Simon says.
The Sucker Punch — a cotton candy pink South African-inspired cocktail that uses candy syrup instead of simple syrup. (We didn’t try this one, but it sure was pretty!)
The Wibble — This is a deep red, sweet fruit alternative to fans of Simon’s Corpse Reviver No. Blue. Some famous author somewhere called gin “writers’ tears,” and this combination of citrus fruits with dry and sloe gin is enough to make you weep when it’s empty. (Though that could be the booze talking.)
The Flawless Martini — A flawless martini is a bit of a delicacy, says Simon, who is pretty damn proud of the fact that his parlor is the only one in the area that serves martinis like this. Gin is poured into a freezing-cold glass and served; no stirring, no shaking, no dirties. It’s positively amazing. If possible, opt for the Old Raj dry gin. It contains a measure of saffron, which gives it a slightly spicy flavor that goes down, well, flawlessly.
LIT Up — A Long Island iced tea will flatten most people with its five-fingered cocktail combination, but Simon takes this up a notch to make it classy. The drink has a two-per-customer limit and is served in a Coca-Cola can, because America. Yes, you’ll look like a bro. Yes, you have to use a straw. But, a few sips in, who cares?
Chocolate Sazerac — I hate whiskey, but I don’t hate this Belgian chocolate-flavored Sazerac. Served straight up, this drink is smoky (think mist, more than French bar) and just downright delicious. This drink is dangerously accessible.
Green Beast — A cold drink on a warm Arizona night is refreshing, but this drink is downright glacial. Absinthe and cucumber flavors lead the palate in this cocktail, and you’ll get more of the cucumber the longer you take to drink it.