Ross started his restaurant journey like most of us – washing dishes at his Aunt’s coffee shop. From Scotland to London, he eventually set up shop in Phoenix, Arizona. But his dreams of opening his own cocktail bar didn’t happen overnight. 10 years later (and 3 years of success), Bitter & Twisted continues to add to the Phoenix cocktail community one unique drink at a time. Watch Ross’ story and learn how to open a bar of your own.
I really wanted to do a bar that you could plop down in the center of Manhattan or anywhere in the world, and have it compete on the same level as any other bar in the world.
I’m Ross Simon, I’m owner, proprietor, bartender here at Bitter & Twisted, in Phoenix, Arizona.
I got into the restaurant industry back in the day, down in Clyde Valley in Scotland, washing dishes at my aunt’s coffee shop. Very unglamorous. I went to college for hotel management. I said, “That’s useless.” So I dropped out of that, because I much more enjoyed myself actually working in the pub down the road when I was actually trying to pay for college.
I decided I wanted to come to the states and not just do the de rigueur, normal thing, of going to New York or San Francisco, or these larger cities that know what they’re doing. I wanted to actually come to a city where I could actually start from scratch, and really through the help of others, add to a community of cocktail culture that might not have existed.
It actually didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a course of 10 years. Trying to raise the amount of money and capital needed is a daunting task, and like when you’re pitching it to people and they’re saying this is far too complicated, this will never work. And in the back of your head you’re saying, “We’re just making drinks and giving people good times, it’s not rocket science. We’re just doing what we do to a different degree.”
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If you look at our cocktail menu, it’s very fun, very engaging and we want that to carry on with what we’re serving. For instance our food really plays into that as well.
We’re not a restaurant that has a great cocktail program, we’re a bar that has great food and elevated bar bites, you know, it’s not fine dining, but it’s great shareable snacks. And we really wanted to, utilize the flavors and ingredients that we use in our drinks, as well as being inspired in what we do with our food.
I would love to just, continue to grow, maintain and making sure it’s a great environment for people to drink, perhaps can eventually turn Bitter & Twisted into an institution, and a place that’s here 10 years, 20 years, like some of the great bars around the world.