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First look: Phoenix cocktail bar UnderTow reopens inside Century Grand building

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 18:48:36-04

PHOENIX — After a few months of construction, UnderTow, the award-winning cocktail bar in Phoenix, is ready to make its maiden voyage at its new home -- next door to its original location.

The cocktail bar, which was designed to look like the hull of a 19th Century Clipper ship, is set to officially welcome its first guests Friday evening, March 19. Yes, reservations are required. We'll get to that in a bit.

Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wanting to grow the concept, Jason Asher and Rich Furnari, co-founders of Barter & Shake Hospitality, decided to move the bar from Sip Coffee & Beer, near 36th Street and Indian School Road, to the building they own next door -- formerly Century Grand -- and home to Platform 18, their immersive cocktail bar themed after a Pullman train car and the Grey Hen Rx whiskey bar, which has a New Orleans vibe.

The owners behind Sip plan to open their own cocktail and martini bar, 36 Below, in the vacated space.

Furnari told ABC15 previously that the goal was to keep the UnderTow experience similar to how it was before, but that the move would allow them to enhance that experience by adding more audio and visual effects, decorations, and a little bit more seating.

"Just keeping the experience fresh and new is one of our goals because we want you to come back and discover old things that look new, and new things that are definitely new," he told ABC15 in January.

The new UnderTow is slightly larger than the original. They've added six more seats to the bar, a second six-person booth, an additional two-person table, more portholes, and cinema-quality sound, Furnari said.

Some of the newest decorations include a new hand-carved bar top and "Emily," a real figurehead that was salvaged from the bow of a ship, according to bar manager Kristina Jones.

The main entrance and check-in area has been transformed into a whiskey rack house and features more than a dozen large barrels, including the hostess stand.

For those who've been before, you will recognize the thunderstorm and lightning effects, the passing of islands, ships, and whales through the portholes, and the eccentric lineup of shrunken heads and hidden treasures.

Also not to forget, Asher and Furnari are opening a second UnderTow at Epicenter, a new residential and commercial development in Gilbert. No further details have been released on that project so far, but it isn't expected to open until 2022.

How to make a reservation

Reservations for any of the three bars -- UnderTow, Platform 18, or Grey Hen -- have to be made online and in advance. There are no walk-up appointments and no waiting lists. Appointments can be made via centurygrandphx.com or undertowphx.com.

Reservations are good for 90-minute sessions and limited to groups of no more than six people. Masks are required upon entrance, though they can be removed when seated, part of the state and county guidelines.

There is a $25 per-person prepaid fee that will be applied towards the final bill. On its website, UnderTow said the purpose of the prepaid charge is to ensure they know how many people are expected to visit each night and to discourage last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

In light of Gov. Doug Ducey lifting occupancy restrictions on businesses, UnderTow intends to open at 100% capacity.

"Occupancy restrictions have been lifted, we will be booking and seating full occupancy. If you are uncomfortable with this change in occupancy restrictions we suggest you do not make a reservation until you are comfortable enough to join us," a message on the reservation web page reads. Details here.

Hours are Tuesday – Thursday, 4 p.m. - 11:45 p.m., Friday, 4 p.m. - 1:15 a.m, Saturday, 1 p.m. - 1:15 a.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.

3626 E Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018