Brandon Casey on Taking Over for Richie Moe and Citizen R+D's Future
It's not easy to take over management of three bars all of the sudden and it's even harder to do it when those bars have a reputation for high standards, trendsetting, and constant inventiveness like Citizen Public House, its upstairs speakeasy R+D, and Phoenix's The Gladly, but Brandon Casey has a plan.
Heather Hoch Brandon Casey quickly fell in love with bartending and now finds himself running the show at Citizen.
Although Casey got his start in the food and beverage industry as a bus boy at The Buttes, then as "the worst server ever" at Native New Yorker, and then a bouncer at several Mill Avenue hangs, his love of craft cocktailing pretty much consumed his life after one margarita competition.
After winning second place, beaten only by his predecessor and mentor Richie Moe, Moe randomly called Casey up to spend a night behind the bar at R+D. Casey said he jumped at the chance, leaving his other job early to take Moe up on the offer. He said he fell in love with bartending at R+D, was offered a job, and put his two weeks in at his other gig all in one night.
Recently Moe, an infamous and highly celebrated bartender in the Phoenix scene, parted ways with the trio of Citizen restaurants and Casey took his place at the helm of the three bars.
"I miss him all the time," Casey says. "Without him I would still be stuck on Mill putting people in headlocks."
However, Casey is excited to take the bars in a new direction. While he sees the history of Citizen's cocktail program revolving around Moe's gregarious, magnetic personality, Casey is ready to build a cohesive vision for all three bars revolving around the company as a whole.
Heather Hoch This light, refreshing gin cocktail called the Tulip-git To Quit was made with spring in mind.
While this means revamping the cocktail menu itself, it also includes a full redesign of Citizen R+D, which Casey says will be more inviting to guests once it re-opens in July, while still providing the same one-of-a-kind, experimental experience. Plans include expanding their already extensive barrel program with a range of curing, rinsing, smoking, charring, and more. However, he says they'll still keep past favorites like the G+T, a gin distilled tableside and mixed with Fever Tree tonic that he says is the best gin made in town.
"We're going to start using R+D as more for r and d," he says. "We'll test out drinks up there and transfer what works well over to The Gladly and downstairs."