by Dorian Boddie
The recent surge of speakeasies in the Valley is probably the worst kept secret around. I mean, what would possess a bar owner to hide their establishment from the general public? I don’t know the answer to that but what I do know is for some inexplicable reason, getting a cocktail in a “secret” dimly lit location completely elevates the total drinking experience.
To provide a snapshot of these on-trend watering holes I embarked on a boozy escapade to visit three Phoenix speakeasies. One culinary rule that has yet to fail me is “the staff knows best” so for this exposé, I solely relied on the recommendation of my server for drink selection.
My first and favorite stop on this journey was the least known bar on my list, The Arizona Mead Company. This unique meadery is located in Chandler on W. Frye Rd. deep in the heart of a seldom frequented industrial park. It’s not the easiest place to locate but that’s part of the allure.
The tasting room is cozy (think living room size) and the decor consists of a central cinder block bar surrounded by a couple small high tops, distressed wooden community table and an old futon. Head fermenter, bartender, owner and I’m assuming only staff member Cody Brown has successfully designed a non-pretentious, casual, comfortable space that you don’t want to leave.
For those not familiar, mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey. I asked Cody for his recommendation in which he pointed to the Prickly Pear as his favorite, quickly adding that most people don’t like it…hard to believe since I found it simply delicious.
The Prickly Pear weighs in at a 10% ABV and is served well chilled in a short stemmed snifter. It’s clean, crisp and carbonated with light notes of honey with a subtle prickly pear fruit juice finish. The overall flavor profile is similar to a dry sparkling white wine. It’s the kind of drink that gets better with each sip and leaves you wanting more.
On your first visit I would highly recommend getting a flight. Just make sure that flight includes a sample of the Caramel Cyser, a sweeter crowd favorite that will not disappoint. Check out Arizona Mead Company here.
Stay tuned on AZFoothills.com for part II and II of Dorian’s speakeasy roundup and follow him at azsurvivalguide.com.