The Derby, Phoenix Style

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Photo by Christopher Galli at Bourbon Steak.

A few years ago, a new friend (who has become a dear friend), Joanie Simon, and I went to a Kentucky Derby party… fancy dresses, big hats, people-watching, and a mint julep or two, and we made it a tradition!

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Our first Kentucky Derby party together!

It seemed that only the resorts held events with much fanfare, but things have changed (in a good way), with a variety of restaurants getting in on the action. See below for a list of places to rock giant hats, seersucker suits, sip on bourbon cocktails, to celebrate the fastest, most exciting 2 minutes in sports!

Okra: Okay, you guys know I have an obsession *ahem* affection for Crudo & their cocktails, and I feel the same way about Okra, with amazing dishes from Chef Cullen Campbell, and cocktails from Micah Olson & his amazing team. Love Southern comfort food?  From 2pm to 5pm, nibble on fried chicken skins with habanero honey; smoked wings with homemade hot sauce; Kentucky hot brown dogs; country ham bolognese with biscuits… should I go on? Okra has an extensive offering of juleps, beyond the typical julep which includes the Okra Cup: housemade Pimm’s, lemon, cucumber, strawberry and seltzer; and Champagne juleps with gin, Champagne, raspberry, and mint. Tickets are available for pre-sale for $15 and include a hammered stainless steel mint julep cup, a free order of chicken skins (drizzle some Homeboy’s Habanero hot sauce on top!) and your first julep for only a penny. 5813 N. 7th St., Phoenix, 602.296.4147

Southern Rail: From 1-5 p.m., enjoy $6 mint juleps, Chef Beckett’s tasty dishes with a Southern twist, and a good dose of Southern hospitality. There will be multiple screens to watch the day’s events, with the big race starting at 3:34 p.m. Derby attire is encouraged, and Southern Rail will award prizes for best men and women’s hats, plus a “best dressed overall” category. 300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.200.0085

Second Story Liquor Bar: Can we say swanky AND exclusive? Second Story’s Derby party is limited to 44 people & features welcome cocktails and passed appetizers, followed by an elegant 3course Derby-inspired menu prepared by Chef Nick Rusticus–you won’t be disappointed! They’ll have games, prizes, and, most importantly, mint juleps! 12pm-3pm & $100 per person. 4166 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480.945.5555

Kelly’s at Southbridge: Stop by Kelly’s for their viewing party and enjoy classic Jim Beam Mint Juleps and refreshing champagne while you cheer on your favorite horse. Don’t forget to come dressed to the nines! Kelly’s will be giving away prizes for the best Kentucky Derby inspired hat.

And last, but not least…

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Bourbon Steak’s hand-selected Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Reserve (photo by Christopher Galli.)

Bourbon Steak: I went to this event last year, and I’m so excited to go again this year! Inspired by “Millionaire Row” at Churchill Downs, Bourbon Steak’s Kentucky Derby brunch and lawn party will feature Bulleit bourbon tastings from their own hand-selected barrel, cocktails, and elegant Southern-inspired bites that will make your taste buds happy. Executive Chef Jeremy McMillan will dish out Kentucky hot browns, pickled shrimp toasts, sweet tea-brined fried chicken, house-smoked Andouille sausage, sweet pies and more. Once you have your cocktail in hand, head out to the “Winner’s Circle” lawn to play lawn games or take a selfie with a thoroughbred race horse, all while watching the race on one of the flat-screen TVs. Winners of the “Best Dressed” contest can win a hat, dinner for two at Bourbon Steak and a weekend at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess! $95 per person includes a complete Southern-style lunch, dessert bar, three cocktails, live music, racing games, commemorative keepsake Kentucky Derby glass and much more. Reservations are required. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale, 480.585.2694

So, have fun, help contribute to the mint julep consumption of mint juleps at Churchill Downs (those Kentucky lushes drink almost 120 THOUSAND mint juleps for the Derby!), and get home safely. I look forward to seeing your Derby outfits and cocktails on social media! #BoozeMafia

 

 

Stop. Drop. Shamrock (Cocktail).

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Smile! Making cocktails on Periscope! My trusty ladies help bring it all together.

Drinking holidays surround us… Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Repeal Day, or hell, Thanksgiving Eve, people are happy to find a reason to drink. With each of these holidays comes some sort of theme, like margaritas for Cinco de Mayo, or (ew, yuck, yes, I’m judging you) green beer for the most famous of all the drinking days.

Let’s class it up this St. Patrick’s Day, shall we? Or try to, anyways.

For those of you who may know me outside of this blog, you know that I’m a bit of a social media junkie. In fact, I’m actually a marketing consultant who specializes in social & digital marketing, which led me to trying Periscope with friends. Last month, we made it an official thing, and created Valentine’s Day cocktails with gin from Caskwerks Distillery, made very close to home in Tempe, Arizona.

Since we had so much fun last month, we decided to do a few Periscope broadcasts featuring Copper City Bourbon from AZ Distilling Co. (also in Arizona) earlier this month, with a focus on classic cocktails. A Manhattan? Sure! A Boulevardier? Of course (I am a big fan of the Negroni, after all), but after that… I felt stuck. I reached out to my friend Luke Detraz of Southern Wine & Spirits, who always has a creative solution to any cocktail-related issue, and he suggested I try a Shamrock cocktail, a classic created by an Irishman in the 1920s. What could be more appropriate? Nothing. Nothing, I say!

I’ll be honest with you. I read the recipe and had no idea what I was getting into. Whiskey? YES. Green Chartreuse? Hell yes! Creme de Menthe?! Uh…. Olive garnish? What the…?! But I made it, and it was spectacular. Seriously. Well-balanced, a little herbal, cool from the creme de menthe, and the brininess from the olive brought it all together. If you like dirty martinis, you’ll be a fan. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

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The Shamrock Cocktail

The Shamrock Cocktail: Recipe

  • 1.5oz Copper City Bourbon
  • 1.5oz French Vermouth (In this case, I used Lillet Blanc)
  • .25oz Green Chartreuse
  • .25oz Creme de Menthe
  • Garnish with green olive

Add the Copper City Bourbon, Lillet Blanc, Green Chartreuse, & creme de menthe to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-chilled (look for condensation on the outside of the mixing glass, and it should be very cold to the touch). Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an olive.

I know, it’s not very green–put down the Midori! Perhaps you should either give up and go drink green beer, or try making it with a green creme de menthe for your desired holiday cheer. But sit back, enjoy every sip, and tell everyone you’re staying in for St. Patty’s Day–less crowds, better drinks, lower chances of ending up in someone’s Facebook photo doing something stupid.

Cheers! And as always–drink responsibly. If you drink, please, DO NOT drive.

 

*This post was sponsored by Arizona Distilling Company.

 

Put a (Big, Giant) Hat on It: The Kentucky Derby

Every spring, I look forward to 2 things: the Arizona BBQ Festival, and checking out a fabulous Kentucky Derby party in town with my favorite foodie sidekick, Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ! The parties have gotten bigger & better, … Continue reading