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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Scott & Co. might be Tucson’s best-kept secret

    David Kwon 
Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
    David Kwon Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

    The speakeasy era is back — in spirit, at least. Nestled on the narrow street of Scott Avenue downtown, Scott & Co. is a bar reminiscent of the 1920s hideaways frequented by gangsters during the Prohibition era. 

    Scott & Co. doesn’t have any elaborate signage directing patrons to the place, just a sturdy wooden door. As you walk in, it feels like you must be one of the lucky few to know about this secret spot.

    Scott & Co. is owned by Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese and located right next to their restaurant, 47 Scott.

    Dimly lit by candles and hanging chandeliers emitting soft light, the bar has brick walls and just four small wooden tables in a space about the size of a bedroom.

    The bartenders at Scott & Co. specialize in handcrafted cocktails, and they really know their stuff. Niklas Morris, who has been bartending for three years, two of them at Scott & Co., said the Scott & Co. bartenders are so skilled at creating cocktails that they’re sometimes called “mixologists.”

    However, he dislikes the term because they’re really just well-studied, well-practiced bartenders. 

    Morris explained that the term was invented in the 1860s to separate bartenders’ skills from those of your typical saloon server, but he and the crew at Scott & Co. are more educated bartenders.

    “It’s a measure of skill and application,” Morris said. “We’re bartenders, not magicians.”

    Knowledge of spirits and a general passion for mixing drinks are all that’s required, he added.

    Behind the bar are shelves full of bottles of different liquors. Besides the light and dark beer on tap, an Indian Pale and English Brown Ale are offered as well.

    You can order a drink right off the menu or get a custom-made cocktail, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know a thing about drinks.

    Morris compared Scott & Co.’s bartending style to baking: If a patron says they like “blueberries and muffins,” it’s pretty obvious what to make them.

    “We know what to work with if someone asks us for something,” Morris said. “It’s about knowing what things work together and communicating flavors.”

    David Kwon, Morris’s apprentice, is still learning the ropes. He’s only worked at Scott & Co. for seven weeks now, but he engages customers with confidence and ease.

    “It’s fun to make drinks I’ve never tried before,” Kwon said. Both bartenders have distinctive styles when it comes to mixing and shaking their drinks.

    While the bar has a relaxed atmosphere during weekdays, people line up at the door to cram inside on a Saturday night.

    If you go, don’t be surprised to see people you know — or your professors. Bill McCallum, head of the UA math department, said he was excited to find a cocktail bar in Tucson, “a place like this where you can say, ‘Give me something with gin.’”

    David Savitt, an associate professor in the math department, added that he loves the care Scott & Co. takes with its slow-frozen ice.
    To make this particularly dense kind of ice, Scott & Co. pours boiling water over ice and lets it freeze for three days, then cuts it into 2-inch blocks, Morris explained. Since the ice is denser with fewer air bubbles, it melts more slowly, keeping your drink from being diluted.

    Morris said Scott & Co. is great because it doesn’t rely on “gimmicks” like bars that serve food do. Scott & Co. has bartenders and drinks — nothing more, nothing less.

    Other bars have a “nurturing quality,” Morris said. “They don’t have this tiny bit of chaos that makes a bar what it is and makes us feel like adults.”

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