The Pinnacle Guide

LITTLE RITUALS

Phoenix, USA

Challenging the assumption of the ‘traditional’ hotel bar, this relaxed, mid-century space is an unexpected find with exacting care and attention given to their cocktails.

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

 The Pinnacle Guide assesses bars against eight areas of excellence, following a rigorous self-application process and anonymous in-bar reviews. Find out more about this process and apply as a bar here.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENDEAVOURS

Little Rituals rarely needs to discard anything through a strict process of ordering perishables to exact amounts and extending use through processes such as pickling and pasteurisation. A trademarked citrus replacement further cuts any wastage. The team also works hard to keep energy at a minimum, using LED or rechargeable lighting and making use of energy-efficient windows.

DETAILS OF NOTE

Guests may spot, inlayed into the bar area tiles, custom coins with the Little Rituals logo. This is a nod to the restored vintage soda machine that was rebranded and set up in the hotel lobby to dispense non-alcoholic bottled beverages. The coins are embedded in the floor in a specific pattern, with each coin facing the directions of Scotland (the home of one of the owners) and Tucson (the home of the other).

The Pinnacle Guide

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Perched on the 4th floor of a Residence Inn, Courtyard Marriott, Little Rituals is not in the usual setting for most well-appointed hotel bars. If guests can put those preconceptions to one side, however, they will be delighted by what they find. Named for its own set of little rituals, a series of seemingly insignificant but ultimately crucial steps that go into great cocktail experiences, the venue heroes quality spirits, fresh produce, in-house ingredient creation and crafted ice. 

With reservations recommended, this 75-seat venue gets packed-out most nights but is designed to still allow a feeling of intimacy among the busy vibes. Adding to this, a mix of uptempo vintage RnB and modern electronic funk pulses through a sound system that has been meticulously worked over to keep noise levels at a perfect level. It’s vibrant but no one is having to raise their voice. This dedication to having every little aspect agonised over is a hallmark of Little Rituals style of service and drinks. 

Little Rituals has a retro-future design, or as they themselves describe; ‘what people in the 50s and 60s thought the 80s might look like.’ That entails purple and gold geometric wallpaper on one side and distressed mirrored tiles on another with rich purple, pink and neon blue tones dotted throughout the room. Custom furniture such as swivel bar stools play into the theme whilst being comfortable and functional for guests. The bar itself is made of black polished stone, set off by a full length LED light strip. It’s a visually striking room that is as far away as expectations for a ‘traditional’ hotel bar might be. The enormous floor to ceiling windows, which are energy efficient, allow an incredible view of downtown Phoenix, and sometimes fireworks when the baseball games are on. 

The design element that guests won’t see however, but will benefit from, is the function of the bar itself. Large freezers keep glassware frosty, while dual-zone fridges keep red, white and fortified wines at their perfect serving temperature. The back bar itself is comprised of a five-tiered custom shelving unit that spans one half of the bar, with bottles organised in sections by category. There is also consideration for the bartenders working behind the bar as it has been meticulously designed for everything to be within arms reach and to minimise any need to bend forward to work. All of this is backed-up by a prep-kitchen where the team make over 120 items in the aim of creating drinks that put a regional lens on flavours and trends. 

Guests will note every major spirit category here is given a broad representation, with the 500-strong bottle collection giving favour to no one category. Equally there are 50 aromatised and fortified wines ready to pour here for those looking at a lower-alcohol experience and no-alcohol drinks on the menu. 

Staff are rigorously trained and tested at Little Rituals – to ensure they are at the very top of their game and sessions cover all aspects from drink development, spirits history, category knowledge and of course – hospitality. For those that join with less experience – the company organises BarSmarts courses to get them up to speed.

To best serve the burgeoning Phoenix bartending community, they support the Jupiter Foundation – an Arizona non-profit organisation that advances the craft of bartending through educational programs and events. 

“Emotionally, Little Rituals really measured up - as someone who has a hard time sitting and relaxing I can't remember the last time I felt like time had passed in a blink of an eye because the temperature, lighting, and seating was so well thought out… it really makes me want to go back to try more.”

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