30: Travis Nass

Categories: Chow Bella

Travis Nass tastemaker .jpg
New Times
From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.

Today: A guy who knows his food as well as his drink -- and if you don't believe us, check out his plan for a last meal(s) in Phoenix.

Tastemaker 30: Travis Nass

See also: Mixologist Travis Nass Creates Cutting-Edge Cocktail Program for The Hermosa Inn
See also: Behind the Bar with Travis Nass at Rancho Pinot

We've called him "the mustachioed master mixologist" and though he dreamed of being a teppanyaki chef, Valley boozehounds consider themselves lucky that Travis Nass ended up behind the bar instead of a grill. Since he left his post at Rancho Pinot, you can find Nass and his creative cocktails at The Hermosa Inn's Last Drop Bar. With more than a decade of experience crafting cocktails, Nass and his quirky bolo-tie-and-bowler-hat style have become pillars of the Phoenix-area drinking scene.

I arrived in Phoenix with... a foot-long orange mohawk, and my Benihana brother Timu Cho. He's still one of my favorite people and the best teppanyaki chef ever.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be...

1) My wife, Chianne, because it wouldn't be a dream dinner without her. She is my favorite person and usually knows better than I do what I want to eat.

2) Watson, my dog, because he never gets to eat with us when we go out.

3) William "The Only William" Schmidt, my favorite pre-Prohibition bartender famous for his punches, his Pousse Cafes, his Juleps, and his Manhattan. He had a small head and a giant mustache and loved "converting people who swore they liked nothing stronger than a lemonade."

4) David Wondrich, my favorite modern cocktail writer, and winner of the 2012 TOTC Spirited Award for best cocktail writing. His love of cocktail history surpasses my own, I can only imagine how long we could talk with "The Only William" (above).

5) Neil Hamburger, America's funnyman.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Rancho Pinot. Chrysa has an amazing palate and is a master of understated elegance. One of the reasons I think I am so drawn to her style of cooking is the same reason I am drawn to Japanese cuisine -- she curates ingredients as opposed to manipulating them.

One menu item this city could do without is... Candy-flavored vodka. Vodkas get a bad rap in general and flavored vodkas in particular. There are so many interesting and great flavors out there it's a shame that the industry has stooped to peddling sweet, artificial garbage to children. (Nobody over 21 is interested in your Fruit Loop, Swedish Fish, or Peanut Butter and Jelly Vodka.)

My last meal in Phoenix would be... Breakfast would be a bacon and egg croissant sandwich from Essence Bakery with a coffee from Cartel.

- Lunch at Andreioli's. The grilled squid plate and one of each of the specials. And a pit stop at Sweet Republic afterwards for ice cream.

- Then over to Crudo for happy hour cocktails and multiple plates of pig's ears.

- Dinner at FnB for lots of tasty veggies; Broccoli, cauliflower, squash blossoms, shihitos, and of course the leeks.

- Dessert at Citizen R+D for Fernet Milkshakes.

- Lastly a nightcap(s) at Shady's for Old Raj Bijous.

The Tastemakers so far:
100: Tracy Dempsey
99: Craig DeMarco
98: Lara Mulchay
97: M.J. Coe
96: Betty Alatorre de Hong
95: Eric Schaefer
94: Hanna Gabrielsson
93: Shinji Kurita
92: Silvana Salcido Esparza
91: Mike Pitt
90: Christina Barrueta
89: Christopher Gross
88: Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung
87: DJ Fernandes
86: Cullen Campbell
85: Chris Lee
84. Gwen Ashley Walters
83: Tony Morales
82: Lylah Ledner
81: Andrea White
80: Lori Hashimoto
79. Mrs. White
78: Eugenia Theodosopolous
77: Lou & Lovey Borenstein
76: Anthony Patafio
75: Carl Seacat
74: Sacha Levine
73: Sharon Salomon
72: Johnny Chu
71: Susie Timm
70: Jason Silberschlag
69: Gina Miller
68: Cindy Gentry
67: Amy Binkley
66: Dave Anderson
65: Mark Tarbell
64: Marianne Belardi
63: Audrey Lasalle
62: Brandon Gauthier
61: Brad and Kat Moore
60: Denise Clayton
59: Nobuo Fukuda
58: Richie Moe
57: Robin Trick
56: Alberto Della Casa and Letizia de Lucia
55: Farah Khalid
54: Dave Andrea
53: Vincent Guerithault
52: Danielle Leoni
51: Stan Zawatski
50: Maya Dailey
target="_blank">49: Duc Liao
48: Lisa Reinhardt
47: Isam Saed
46: Greg Peterson
45: Marco Bianco
44: Mark Fratu
43: Wendell Crow
42. Barb Harris
41: Michael Perry
40: Jeff Kraus
39: Ryan Avery
38: Charleen Badman
37: Damon Brasch
36: Dwayne Allen
35: Jason Asher
34: Pamela Hamilton
33: Victoria Chavez
32: Giovanni Scorzo
31: Tim Wilson
Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

Location Info

Lon's at the Hermosa

5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Rancho Pinot

6208 N. Scottsdale Road, Paradise Valley, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Essence Bakery Cafe

825 W. University Drive, Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Cartel Coffee Lab

225 W. University Drive, Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Andreoli Italian Grocer

8880 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sweet Republic

9160 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant


3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

FnB Restaurant

7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Citizen R+D - CLOSED

7111 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music


2701 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest

@SandyWasserman thanks, it was a fun interview.

Now Trending

From the Vault