Settled within the heart of Phoenix is 36 Below—a modern speakeasy that seamlessly blends the mysterious aesthetic of an underground martini bar with that of a more ethereal, above-ground space. Complete with mushroom cocktails, earthy décor tones and a hypnotizing checkered floor, the hangout feels less like a bar and more like a portal into the adult-version of Alice in Wonderland.
Josh Katz, Sheldon Wiley and Moe Murillo—all serial entrepreneurs in their own right—started 36 Below with the vision to bring the magic of molecular mixology to life in a space that not only mirrored, but rather embodied, the quirky and downright fascinating elements of crafting a truly unforgettable cocktail.
Naturally, bottling up that hypnotic energy within the spaces of a speakeasy—one which payed homage to the lucrative elements of prohibition-era bars, in particular—seemed like the perfect fit. And thus 36 Below was born, and hidden, just 12 steps below another local favorite in Sip Coffee and Beer Garage.
The energy of this modern martini bar is incomparable—fast-paced yet relaxed, cozy yet bold, familiar yet refreshing. The space is adorned with deep green tones along the walls and in draping plant décor. The black-and-white checkered floor adds the perfect contrast against petite white tables and their corresponding burnt orange-colored cushion seats. And the dimmed lighting sets the tone for a moody ambience, which is elevated by the joint’s smooth background music.
Like any great bar, the environment is only as good as the drinks served within it. And in 36 Below’s case, the drink offerings are really good.
The Utopia is a particularly delicious drink—made up of bourbon, toasted marshmallow (which is toasted on-site, at the table), cinnamon bitters and oak smoked, the flavors somehow manage to encapsulate the coziness of the woods and comforts of a really good bourbon all into a single glass.
The Seed of Innocence proved to be an especially popular order because, well, who doesn’t want to drink delicious alcohol out of a plant? The drink features horchata vodka, Licor 43, Mr. Black Coffee Liquor and oat milk Oreo cookie soil in a terracotta-colored pot complete with an emerging flower out the top.
And last, but not least, the Garden of Gypsies cocktail combines unique alcohol flavors with a storybook aesthetic that’s simply impossible to replicate—let alone describe. Served on a platter of greenery, the mushroom-shaped glass encompasses Butterfly Pea Flower Infused Tanqueray 10 Gin, Genepy Mushroom Reduction, jicama, celery root and lemon. It’s weird and beautiful, but it works!
If you’re looking to quite literally leave your inhibitions behind and disconnect from the outside world—all while feeling as if you’ve jumped down the rabbit hole of another—make sure to visit 36 Below on your next night out.
36 Below is open daily from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information and to reserve your next visit, visit www.36belowaz.com.