Lux Central: Coffee, Cookies, and Cocktails
By: Clayton Porter
I wouldn’t call them Bartenders here. For one there really isn’t a bar. Drinks are served from behind a long wooden table that is topped with large bowls of fruit and a cutting board used to slice the fruit into garnish. Mixologists is probably the more appropriate title here at Lux. The drinks are carefully made and those makers know their craft. They often embrace a creative freedom of expression with your order-you can never be entirely sure what your drink will be. Tonight I ask for a gin and tonic,“Hendricks for the gin, please.” The result being a large wine glass with a wedge of lime on the rim. Swimming in a swirl of gin, tonic and a touch of vermouth are thinly sliced cucumbers and rosemary leaves. I’m told by the
bartender mixologist that the wine glass is often how they drink cocktails in Spain. There the Spanish take a glass that is used to capture the rich aroma of wine and apply the idea to other alcoholic drinks. The drink is delicious. The rosemary and vermouth keep it crisp, fresh and not weighed down by the strong taste of tonic water. Something that happens often when it is made poorly and too quickly. Smelling the cucumber and rosemary is nice-I’m not about to argue with the Spanish.
It is a Thursday night, I’m sitting at the large wooden table and directly in front of where the drinks are being made. There is a DJ nearby setting the mood and helping us through the evening. The music played would fit perfectly on a Spotify “Chill Mood” playlist. It fills the room but is not too loud where you can’t have a conversation with the person next to you. It’s hard to describe the layout of Lux, its kind of a circle but with four separate rooms. If I remember right the shop started small then expanded its floor space. This explaining why as you walk through the place new rooms seem to come out of nowhere. People come and go ordering drinks, there is the sound of shakers and metal stirrers on glass. It smells like coffee and I watch the artists at work. It is relaxing.
There is a kitchen nearby. Lux is a coffee shop at heart but likes to also be a place where you can grab an eggs and bacon in the morning and a NY strip steak in the evening. Prepared in plain sight just over a counter lined with bowls of onions, peppers and potatoes-reminding you the food here is made with the finest ingredients. The menu changes but you can always enjoy slight variations of a steak, burger, salad, mac and cheese (crowd favorite) dish.
I don’t think I’ve been to Lux at a time when it was slow. Do not even think about coming to this spot on a Sunday morning. Seriously, the line is always out the door and I’m sure the staff will appreciate being able to take a break at some point. Proof of its popularity Lux has landed itself the title of Most Instagrammed Restaurant in Phoenix. If you’re on the Instagram and follow Lux you are given a sneak peak into the days pastry, drinks and the people behind all the hard work.
The non-alcoholic menu at Lux prides itself away from the simplicity of other coffee shops that might only offer three expresso drink options. With over 30 different coffee and tea variations your first time here will have you standing and starring for a while. There is also the pastry case to draw you in; cupcakes, lemon bars, whoopie pies, muffins, and so forth. All made by hand, in house and often with vegan or gluten free options.
I order a cookie sandwich as desert for the evening. Two soft oatmeal cookies with icing in the middle. I’m not entirely sure what traditional food critics might say about this pairing. Maybe a creme brulee or lime sorbet would be more appropriate? Then again I’m sitting in a
coffee shop bar restaurant drinking wine something other then wine out of a wine glass. I’m not really caring about tradition right now, only what feels so right.