Meet Your Mixologist: Tyson Buhler
Like the 1942 Casablanca movie starring Humphrey Bogart, I had a similar opening conversation with head bartender, Tyson Buhler of The Casablanca Lounge, when I sat down at the six-day old cocktail den in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona.
Tyson Buhler: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Me: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Tyson Buhler: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert!
Actually, I had come to the Sonoran desert parched for the elevated libations of a good mixologist — and luckily, I found him. Tyson, dedicated to craft cocktails and artisan ingredients, is somewhat of a lone ranger in a city that is just awakening to the mixologist movement.
Hailing from Scottsdale's celebrity hotspot Sanctuary Resort, where Scottsdale locals were first introduced to the concept of a drink as an art form, Tyson brings with him to Casablanca Lounge over a decade of experience and passion for a well-balanced concoction.
Because he is a trailblazer in the cocktail world of Scottsdale, there are no specialized block ice companies to order the slow-melt ice as there are in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. He is a bit of martyr for the movement as he spends about an hour painstakingly filling hundreds of ice molds daily. Now that’s dedication.
Tyson Buhler, your efforts were much appreciated in the Violet’s Ruin of Ron Matusalem Platino, Blueberry Shrub, Hum (a wild liqueur of Kaffir lime, cardamom, ginger), lime and mint. Two rectangular ice cubes almost the length of the glass were standing defiantly brilliant amongst the ruby colored concoction.
Another of my favorites of the five cocktails I tasted at The Casablanca Lounge in Scottsdale was the polka-dotted Passion-Chile Pisco Sour with Hacienda Del Abuelo, passion fruit, chile syrup, lime, egg white, and Aztec chocolate bitters.
Although there isn’t too much of a weather shift in Scottsdale, Tyson will be changing up the menu to reflect the wishful seasons every three months or so.
Currently his menu features holiday spirit in liquid form served in a gleaming copper mug called the Seasonal Buck of Stoli Gala Apple, Allspice Dram, fresh muddled apples, lime, and ginger — a twist on the Moscow Mule. This one could certainly make even the most dysfunctional family feel warm and cozy around this year’s Thanksgiving dinner table.
Cozy is most certainly what you’ll experience at The Casablanca Lounge — the fire lit outdoor patio is the only rooftop bar in Scottsdale with another outdoor patio overlooking the waterfront. Jazz DJs are featured on weekends.
Intrigued by a girl who looked like a blond Bettie Page sitting next to me at the bar of Casablanca Lounge, I asked her what her favorite was among Tyson Buhler’s cocktail collection. She enthusiastically pronounced that she was the president of his fan club and raved about the Mayflower.
As a whiskey lover, I had to agree, this is a great choice for a scotch or bourbon drinker. The Mayflower of Old Overholt, Averna, Peach Shrub and lemon is spirit forward but trimmed in enough ruffles sure to please both girly and manly drinker.
Whatever you are in the mood for, Tyson Buhler is humble and knows his place in the customer service business. If you want a cosmo, no problem, just don’t expect it to be made with Grey Goose — only awe-inspiring spirits at The Casablanca Lounge.
Best just to enjoy the ride with Buhler as the cocktail guide. No doubt, at the evening’s end, you’ll be saying to Buhler as Humphrey Bogart did, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”