UnderTow Takes Valley Cocktail Scene by Storm
Ahoy, desert dwellers! UnderTow is now open in Phoenix and tongues are wagging for the Valley’s most unique bar concept that showcases exotic cocktails. UnderTow is the second venture of Barter and Shake. The first was Counter Intuitive in Old Town Scottsdale, a favorite cocktail connoisseur destination. Owner of Barter & Shake, Richard Furnari and Director of Beverage Development, Jason Asher, consulting on behalf of Young's Market (liquor distributors) have brought a tiki-inspired bar to the most unlikely of spaces, and the results will whisk you away to another place entirely. Sean Traynor is the director of operations and general manager of UnderTow, but you can think of him like the ship’s captain.
Months ago, a meeting was held in Sip Coffee & Beer Garage in Phoenix to discuss the potential of its sub-space, and the ideas started flying fast and furiously. Furnari states, “It came to life immediately!” Tiki culture has enjoyed a renaissance of late and UnderTow embraces that ideal and provides a completely immersive experience for its guests. Asher adds, “Tiki is one of those things… It’s escapism.” Wesley James of StarkJames is the incredibly creative designer who made the UnderTow vision a reality.
UnderTow exists inside Sip. Well, inside and underneath! Interestingly, Sip used to be a vehicle lube business. That business was equipped with a sub-space that allowed mechanics to get underneath vehicles to work on them. That is where the magic of UnderTow has been constructed! The 500 square foot, 29 seat bar (plus standing room for a few more) is located under Sip and has been literally orchestrated stem to stern as the festive underbelly of a vintage clipper ship. Scottsdale.com was invited to set sail on the maiden voyage of UnderTow and remarkably, at no time during the visit did I ever feel that I was anywhere other than at a party on a ship.
This is all about craft cocktails (with noshes coming in October, courtesy of the mindset of Executive Chef, Cullen Campbell), but I would be remiss if I skipped the design details that transform the space. From floor to ceiling, Undertow is a vintage clipper ship. From beautiful woodwork, barrel-front embellishments and colorful hanging glass floats, to candles, a hand-carved wood bar and portals complete with seafaring visuals, once you grab a seat at Undertow, you are on a journey. During a full 96-minute unique experience, guests are on a trip. Starting off at the docks, where you will hear dogs barking and people talking “above deck,” the ship then sets sail across the ocean on an unforgettable voyage, accompanied by a unique array of cocktails that impart the loves and personalities of the cocktail artisans that created them. Danny "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo carved the gorgeous bar top tikis and they are truly a sight to behold. UnderTow would not be the space it is without his tiki magic.
The tiki-inspired cocktails embrace the flavors and spices that are found across trade routes. Most drinks include some nut flavor, vanilla, nutmeg, mace and clove. During my visit, I started off with the cocktail, Smuggled Goods. It is a nutty drink that combines macadamia nut-infused Overproof Jamaican Rum, Amontillado Sherry, orgeat, lime and pimento with a kiss of Mezcal for a smoky undertone. It was a hurricane-of-a-taste sensation that is perhaps the perfect cocktail introduction for anyone visiting UnderTow for the first time.
Nearly 20 tiki-inspired cocktails will delight voyagers at UnderTow. An exceptional drink is the Pirate’s Remorse. No, this is not a bad Johnny Depp joke, it’s another great cocktail! Your taste buds will jump for enjoy as you lavish a glassful of guava, Galliano, aged Rhum of Martinique, honey, vanilla, mace, lime and nutmeg. With a sprig of mint at the helm of the drink, it is a full experience enjoying all the unique flavors and aromas imparted by this craft cocktail.
Because of the limited space at UnderTow, Captain Traynor and his crew highly recommend putting your name on the list in advance of your visit via the NoWait app. Undertow is open 4 p.m.-midnight Wednesdays and Thursdays and 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Undertow is located at 3620 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix inside of Sip. Visit UnderTow’s Facebook page to get all the latest news. The ship’s about ready to sail! Get ready for the best voyage in the Valley!