I was fortunate enough to meet the Three Wells' owners and operators, Matt Montgomery and Chris Dudding, when I wrote my first cover story for the Tucson Weekly. It was on the local distilleries here in Tucson and all I can say their vodka is some of the best I have ever had. In fact, I even enjoyed their gin. And I hate gin.
Why do you ask.
Well, it all goes back to drinking too many gin and tonics in Hollywood, CA with a bunch of friends about two decades ago which ended up with me violently throwing up in a grimy alleyway, so the smell of gin just makes me want to gag.
After our interview, Matt and Chris said they were in the very early stages of opening up a craft cocktail bar in the downtown area. This was about a year ago. I told them to keep me posted so when the bar made its official debut that I would be there.
And I was.
|So many components to ponder and muddle|
Opening in the spot next to Breugger's Bagels at 13 N Stone Ave, Series 19, named after the license you have to obtain in order to open an offsite distillery, make drinks and to offer bottle service, is now ready to serve the good people of Tucson, and the rest of the visiting globe, quality cocktails and fine craft spirits.
If you know me, have been following the Homeskillet or various other rantings, you know my penchant for darker, slightly "divier" bars. Being a food and beverage writer has taken me to a few mega swank and hipster affairs and I've always been annoyed and even disappointed with them. Its all show and no substance. The drinks are usually so weak and way too sugary, setting you back like 12 to 20 bucks. Why, because it took an hour to make and is garnished with flowers and a gold leafed caviar slider? Lame. But a good neighborhood bar will most likely pour you an honest drink for an honest price.
I guess I'm just not into scene-ster things. Never have been. I wonder why?
Oh yeah....I like myself. That's why.
|Hmmm, decisions decisions|
So I was really happy and even relieved to see that Series 19 was relaxed, yet with a good polish.
It's a smaller space, longer than it is wide, with sanded wood as its main theme. The bar is on your immediate right, supplied with a few chairs but there are a couple of tables towards the back if you and your friends want to chat face to face.
Series 19 has the feel of a local pub but the attitude of an upscale lounge. If that makes sense? Like, the bartenders are shaking it up and look like they could be tending in a four star hotel but the stripped down approach to the style resists any pretension.
You know what I mean?
Let's move on...
Fortunately I know the manager and head bartender, Tyler Dunn, so when I bellied up to his bar I asked what he wanted to make me.
"Our gin fizz," he said.
"Oh man. But I hate gin!"
"Shut up. You'll love it. Ever had an Orange Julius?"
"Well, yeah...I grew up in LA."
"Then shut up. You'll love it."
Watching a master bartender do their sorcery is a thing of awesome. Before I knew it, after a lot of ingredients being squeezed, twisted and beaten, I had a white snowy filled glass with a fresh orange rind floating on top. So I sat down and prepared to not like it.
Shut up, I told myself after taking a sip. This thing is delicious.
It makes a difference drinking quality spirits as opposed to those on the bottom shelf in some bleak liquor shed because I didn't even mind the gin. It all made sense. It was so good.
Okay, I'm convinced.
On to the next!
|Booze flights going down|
What I like about Series 19 is that it embraces all aspects and libations of the Sonoran Desert and not just Three Wells' products.
They carry Tucson whiskey wizards Hamilton Distillers line of Del Bac varieties among a bevvy of other independently produced spirits. This is the kind of, well, spirit I like from good people that own a good business. Supporting others that are in the same game as you is a big up for me and since I did get to know Chris and Matt on a certain level, it doesn't surprise me that Series 19 is something special.
The night I was there some catered food was provided but I hear that you can order charcuterie platters from sort of neighbor Johnny Gibson's Market. So bonus on that.
Sippin' on a fine chilled cocktail while eating some cured meats, imported cheeses and seasonal fruit among comfortable surroundings with good people?
Sign me the fxxk up!
|Tyler the Creator|
Next drink I had to try was something called a Muddler. Basically you pick your booze, then pick some fruit or veggies and herbs and they mix it all up for you in a tall mason jar like glass. This thing was glorious.
As mentioned earlier, I'm not into really fruity or sweet drinks but my Muddler, which consisted of lime, cucumber and mint, was adorable. And its big!
Knowing I had to cut out soon to meet other obligations that night, I just leaned back in a corner table and took my time with this one. Perfect for the oncoming summer scald as you watch the world go by outside hoping those in cars have their air conditioning working or those on the street remembered to apply deodorant earlier that day.
To say the least I had a great time at Series 19, so cheers to Matt and Chris for this one.
You guys are going to do fine.
|Matt thanking us for coming out that night|
And cheers to the good people of Tucson because you now have a better hangout downtown to relieve yourself of the pressure of having to endure another uppity gloss concept making you feel inferior for wearing shorts even though its 100+ in the shade. Series 19 obviously welcomes all seeing as my flubby shorts and Hawaiian shirt wearing self was greeted with shaking hands and warm hellos.
Oh, and cheers to Tyler for changing my perspective on gin. I'm still a vodka kind of guy but, man, that fizz was the shizz.
Congratulations Three Wells...and thanks!
Camera, Typing and Drinking
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
A Balmy Late Spring, 2018