Fifth-generation Arizona native and metalsmith Stevie Raeann leads two impressive drink programs in the Valley. The cocktails at Flint by Baltaire features contemporary American fare and premium drinks accented with coastal Mediterranean and bold Middle Eastern flavors. The ultra-sleek mixology program at Upstairs at Baltaire—a stylish rooftop bar and lounge featuring postcard-perfect views—puts modern twists on Prohibition-era cocktails and chef-crafted bar bites. We recently sat down with Raeann to learn a little more about her backstory, as well as her approach to drink menus at both establishments.
Before we get into the drinks, tell us more about you.
I was born in Show Low, but moved to the Valley with my mom at 7. Creative from a young age, my passions before getting into the hospitality field were drawing and painting. My first bartending job was at the iconic dive bar (which has since closed, sadly) Rogue in Tempe. Talk about trial by fire! We opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 2 a.m. It was loud, fun and the secret hangout for several celebrities and musicians when they stopped in Phoenix for shows or work in the early 2000s. An early mentor while there was Layla Linn, today known as one of the founders of Arizona Cocktail Weekend. Back then, she worked for Alliance Beverage (now Breakthru Beverage) and encouraged me to hone my craft and seek out opportunities to grow in my knowledge of spirits. From there, I moved on to Orange Table, and then to The Beverly, where I got a second mentor in Chris Hardin. He helped me really understand seasonality of ingredients in relation to spirits and introduced me to pairing cocktails with food, today one of my passions. I accepted the new role with Flint when they opened in 2019, and then with Upstairs in 2020, and my team and I are ready to show the world what we can do.
What is your best cocktail adventure story?
I once spent a summer harvesting fresh juniper berries and making gin in the forests and wooded regions of Washington Island in Wisconsin.
What was the first cocktail you ever made?
A brandy and Coke. Barely 21 at the time, I didn’t even know what brandy was yet.
What is the oddest drink request you’ve ever gotten?
I had a guest ask me to combine a 40 of Mickey’s malt liquor with a Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine cooler. As in, make it into a cocktail. While I would have obliged, alas, I had to tell him he would need to go to the grocery store or a liquor store for those ingredients, as we didn’t stock them behind the bar.
What is your pet peeve when working behind the bar?
Not asking questions. Even the best bartenders are allowed to not know something.
What does ordering a vodka soda say about a person?
I am actually known for ordering a tequila soda from a bar when I see the staff is super busy. I like to keep things simple for those behind the bar on busy nights. So, it could be that. It could also mean that there may be a drink menu that you know one ingredient or spirit that is listed and they go in panic mode, so they stick with what is safe. Or, it could just mean they aren’t into mixers or other flavors. People like what they like.
What is your go-to drink—or drinks—when you’re at a bar other than your own?
When I finish a shift, I love a shot of Fernet, which is an Italian aromatic spirit, along with a glass of bubbles.
Tell us about the beverage program at each of the Flint concepts.
At Flint by Baltaire, our aim is to pair the cocktails with the upscale menu, using globally inspired ingredients just as the dishes do. Expect things like charred lemon, turmeric and coconut in some of our seasonally inspired offerings, all exploding with flavor and in respect to the high-end spirits we use.
Upstairs at Flint is open Tuesday through Saturday and located directly above Flint. The 1,200-square-foot penthouse space open to the public seats 80 and has one of the best views of Arizona sunsets I’ve ever seen. Up there our focus is offering modern twists on classic cocktails featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients. The cocktail menu is evenly divided between 1920s-style cocktails and 2020-style twists.
What is one cocktail you would love for us to feature in the magazine this month?
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait ($13)
What do you like best about it?
I am a huge fan of gin, and the gin we use here—Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish gin—is a stunner. Its story alone is a stunner—Irish spirit makers who went adventuring to find the ingredients for it. I get massive notes of citrus, juniper, cardamom, candied grapefruit and even orange blossom when I smell and sip it, which are all perfect for spring. I also love that by combining the gin with Moscato, sage, lemon and Orgeat, we get this tangy, slightly sweet and very floral cocktail. You have to taste it to see how truly original it is on the palate.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
1 1/2 ounces Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin
3/4 ounces St. George Spiced Pear
3/4 ounces lemon juice
1/2 ounces orgeat
1 ounce moscato
Shake and serve up in a coupe
Flint by Baltaire, 2425 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.812.4818, flintbybaltaire.com.