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First look at Rough Rider, a Teddy Roosevelt-inspired basement restaurant opening in downtown Phoenix

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Posted at 9:26 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 08:44:06-04

PHOENIX — You may not recognize the Ten-O-One building along Roosevelt Row by name, but it's the building on the corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street with the massive mosaic of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

Soon, it will be home to Rough Rider, an underground bar and restaurant from the team behind The Whining Pig and Pigtails Cocktail Bar -- their first venture into a full-service restaurant concept -- and named after the first U.S. volunteer cavalry led by Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War.

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Guests will walk through the building's modern lobby and board a wood panel-lined elevator to the basement where they'll find an upscale restaurant with an Old World feel -- paneled wood walls with a black-and-white photo of Roosevelt, a pair of leather chairs, a mini library and fireplace that acts as a seating area, and an all-wood bar lined with glasses, presses and Julep cups.

"We dove headfirst into a theme without going overly kitschy with it," said Kyla Hein, co-owner and beverage director at Rough Rider, told ABC15. "So I'm excited to show everybody how hard we've been working and all the details that we put into this place."

ABC15 was given a sneak peek inside a couple of weeks ago. Rough Rider is not open yet, but the owners hope to open within the next couple of weeks, potentially as early as June.

It's one of at least 20 bars and restaurants that are expected to open this year in downtown Phoenix.

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Hein said the decorations and design were inspired by the time period -- the late 1800s. She added that they did not want to go overboard with the theme and wanted to keep it simple and functional.

Behind the bar, Hein said their cocktail menu was inspired by Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tender's Guide, which was first published in the 1860s. Cocktail connoisseurs can expect a variety of punches, cobblers, juleps and flips.

"We use a lot of like old school technique as far as how we're making them. Instead of fresh fruit, we're doing jams or preserves, but very traditional, very simple," she said, adding that they would also have a smaller menu featuring beer and wine.

Here are a few cocktails that will be on the menu:

To Alice, with Love: Wheatley Vodka, Lush Lavender Tea, Agave, Fresh Lemon
Together We Rye: Sazerac Rye, Cranberry Apple Tea, Fresh Grapefruit and Lemon
The Queen’s Cup: Claret, NOLA Liquor, Demerara, Allspice, Clove, Sparkling Water
Martini of Honor: Prebottled and Chilled blend of Vodka, Gin & Vermouth with Orange Bitters and Lemon Essence

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Chef Jose Morales, who worked at restaurants in Michigan and Chicago, Illinois and helped open some of The Whining Pig and Pigtails in the Valley, will helm the kitchen at Rough Rider.

He described the menu as " Americana with a little bit of Southern flare" and said diners could expect dishes, such as shrimp and grits, seasonal fish, lobster roll, salads, and an oyster bar with shrimp, crab and Crudo.

Another dish he highlighted was "beats three ways," which would include fresh beets, pickled beets and roasted beets. They will also have some shareable dishes, such as peppers.

"If you want to come [to] have just a cocktail experience, you can," he said. "Or if you just want to have a nice, sit-down meal, a date night, we're perfectly assembled."

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It will be the second Teddy Roosevelt-inspired spot along Roosevelt Row. The Theodore, a beer and wine bar, opened in 2019 (same owners as The Sleepy Whale in Chandler).