Whip It Good: Chartreuse Hot Chocolate

A few years ago, I attended a Christmas in July party at a well-known–yet hidden–wine bar in Scottsdale, called Kazimierz, and while we won’t get into much further detail, there were some unique cocktails I tried that night that I … Continue reading

Good Riddance, 2016: A Guide to NYE

Ah, 2016. While you were full of work, travel, & fun, you also kind of SUCKED… leading to an abundance of cocktails with friends to cope. But alas, just as all good things must come to an end, so must the crappy things. Let’s celebrate, shall we?

Whether you’re looking to party, go to a swanky dinner, or just hang out at home & enjoy some champagne, I’ve got you covered with a few of my favorite places in the PHX!

Party, Party, Party!

delete_rokaFairmont Scottsdale: Casino Royale New Year’s Eve Party
I know, I know. You’re SO surprised, but yeah, I will be celebrating NYE at the Fairmont this year, and it should be an incredible time! Starting at 9pm on December 31, join me in ringing in the New Year at The Plaza Bar with a night at Casino Royale, with entertainment by DJ Tommy Roberts, dancing and specialty cocktails. They are encouraging themed attire, though I’m opting for cocktail attire to go with my bourbon cocktails & champagne! They will have VIP table and bottle service, which you can reserve by calling 480.585.2694. Entry is $25 per person, but it’s complimentary if dining at any resort restaurant the same evening, so be sure to check out Bourbon Steak (classic steakhouse with a local flare), La Hacienda (a modern take on Mexican cuisine complemented by their incredible tequila bar), or the hidden gem located on the TPC golf course, Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, which features unique dishes with distinct flavors of South and Central America in a casual, atmosphere… did I mention they have one of the largest selections of rum in the Valley? Be sure to get a cocktail or two to pair with your food! For more info, visit:   http://www.scottsdaleprincess.com/Seasonal-Events

Counter Intuitive: Okay, a shameless plug for a client–but it’s a good one, so bear with me! Known for their innovative cocktails, limited hours, & changing themes, Counter Intuitive has been making its mark on the cocktail scene, both here in town, as well as all over the country! They’re offering two seating times–7:30pm to 10pm ($80 per person), and 10:30pm to 1am ($150 per person)–which includes 7 (yes. SEVEN) signature cocktails of your choice, and the entire cocktail menu is available to choose from! They’ll also be offering bottles of Veuve Cliquot ($100 each) and the 10:30pm seating includes a champagne toast at midnight! Snag your ticket(s) here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nye-a-very-counter-intuitive-new-years-eve-tickets-30525441417?utm_term=eventurl_text {133 E Stetson Dr #4, Scottsdale, AZ 85251}

Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Resort: Sanctuary has some of the best views in the Valley, coupled with an incredible spa, wonderful dining at elements, & great craft cocktails at the renowned Jade Bar. Ring in 2017 with a sophisticated sit-down affair at elements or join in Scottsdale’s biggest New Year’s Eve bash at jade bar. There will be two seatings at elements–5:30–7pm, priced at $150 per person; and from 8-10:30pm, is priced at $185, & includes a complimentary Champagne toast, party favors and admission to the Jade Bar celebration–but both featuring an inspired four-course menu by Chef MacMillan. Looking for the party? At Jade Bar, the party runs from 8pm-1am, with a DJ spinning hits–you’re going to want to hit the dance floor! The Dining and Entertainment Package includes a four-course prix fixe holiday menu, bottle of Champagne, and party favors, priced at $1,000 for a table of four and $1,500 for a table of six. Please note: Tax and gratuity are additional, and space is limited. Hurry & make your reservations by calling 480-607-2300. More information is available at www.sanctuaryaz.com. {5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253}

Swanky Dinners

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First course at Roka Akor: The Wagyu Beef Tataki, Truffle Onion Vinaigrette & Rock Chive.

Roka Akor: Roka knows how to pull out all the stops to make a night out extra special, and NYE is no exception! It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Scottsdale, as everything is high quality, from the sushi, to the steaks, to the cocktails, with extraordinary attention to detail. They’re offering a 5-course tasting menu (minimum of 2 people), featuring some of their amazing sushi, seafood, & steaks, along with other premium items prepared on their signature robata menu. Seatings are at 7pm & 9pm, for $98 per person. For more information & to make a reservation, visit their site: http://www.rokaakor.com/scottsdale/new-years-eve-dinner/ {7299 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258; (480) 306-8800}

 

Second Story Liquor Bar: SSLB is dark, swanky, sexy, and has an extensive collection of whiskey & bourbon, making it one of my favorite places to pony up to the bar–especially since my friend Clint (aka “Spotty”) recently took over the reins & revamped their cocktail menu! They’re having a Purple Rain themed dinner & dance party, starting at 7:30pm on December 31st. Enjoy food from Chef Jason McGrath (who has been getting some rave reviews!) with champagne & cocktails from the bar–seating is limited, so don’t miss out! For more information & to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/purple-rain-new-years-eve-scottsdale-tickets-30318136362?aff=fbpurplerain {4166 North Scottsdale Road, #102; Scottsdale, AZ 85251}

For the Homebodies: The Classic Champagne Cocktail

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For those of you choosing to celebrate at home, I salute you!! There’s wisdom in avoiding the crowds, spending all the money, and oh! The Uber surge pricing!! I do hope that champagne is part of your evening, and thanks to the Mixology 101 class on Champagne Cocktails at the Sanctuary Resort‘s Jade Bar, I have a little cocktail recipe for you… the classic Champagne Cocktail! (And be sure to check out the Mixology 101 classes–they’re held every Saturday–starting up again on January 7–at noon, for $40 per person. Great way to spend an afternoon with a date or with a bunch of friends!) Okay, okay, back to it. Jazz up your Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava with this super simple recipe!

Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters (available at
  • Chilled Brut Champagne
  • Twist of Lemon(s)
  • Champagne flute

Instructions:

Place a sugar cube in a chilled champagne flute. Add 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, fill the glass with Brut champagne (sparkling wine, Prosecco work, too!), and squeeze a lemon twist on top. Serve. Enjoy many.

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Champagne by quinnanya / CC BY

So, Happy New Year, you crazy kids!! Have fun celebrating, kiss a stranger or two, but please, please, PLEASE get around safely–I’m a big fan of Uber, Lyft, taxi services, or just plain old staying home. But BE SAFE. (Yeah, yeah. Drink responsibly!)

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.

 

Things to Do: Mixology 101 at Jade Bar

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People are always asking me about cocktails–the history, how to make them, and where to go to get great cocktails in town. One of my favorite places to go is Jade Bar at the Sanctuary. Nestled on iconic Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Sanctuary is a luxurious, yet approachable resort, and their Jade Bar is one of my favorite places to watch the legendary desert sunsets of Phoenix while sipping on a classic cocktail. (They also have a pretty killer happy hour, called The Pour, so you can enjoy the great service and relaxing ambiance while on a budget!)

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Jade Bar’s mixologists have launched their Mixology 101 course for the spring, and it couldn’t be better timing. Have friends coming into town for the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction or the WM Phoenix Open, and you need a break from all the action? (Or, worse, they’re in town and they HATE golf and classic cars… and some really epic people-watching?) If they’re of age, and they love to enjoy a cocktail or two, bring them to Mixology 101 on Saturdays at noon.

Classes are limited to 20 people per class and only $35 per person. What does this 3 hour cocktail experience include? Guests will learn cutting edge techniques (& hello, lots of delicious & generous cocktail samples!), get the inside scoop on jade bar’s freshness philosophy, spirit details and the history behind the libations they are concocting–the bartenders are well-versed in their craft, and they definitely will keep your interest. And don’t worry, you won’t be drinking on an empty stomach, as dishes from jade bar’s popular small plates menu will be served throughout each session. (No one likes to be buzzed and hangry, am I right?)

The schedule is as follows, though they’re skipping February 13th for Arizona Cocktail Week–which, if you haven’t heard of AZCW, you should definitely check it out! (Seminars, dinners, fun cocktail events… the list goes on and on!)

January 23 – Gin
January 30 – Tequila
February 6 – Rum
February 13 [NO CLASS] – Arizona Cocktail Week.
February 20 – American Whiskeys
February 27 – Scotch
March 5 – Brandies of the World
March 12 – Liqueurs

Mixology 101: Saturdays at jade bar * 12pm * $35 per person (plus tax and gratuity)* Limit 20 guests; Reservations required.

 

I’m Thankful for… This Cocktail.

Shockingly enough, when I’m invited to a dinner or potluck situation, my friends typically ask me to bring booze or choose a cocktail to make for the occasion. Thanksgiving is no exception. I’m going chow down with some friends, and what better way to give thanks than throwing back a couple delicious cocktails & getting sauced while shoving copious amounts of food down your gullet? There is no better way, I say!

I decided I wanted to do some sort of fall/Thanksgiving-themed cocktail, but don’t you worry–there’s no “turkey fat washed” anything, or weird garnishes involving meat or stuffing. This is quick, easy, and to the point. After all, if you’re spending all your time prepping the food, you want to maintain a mild, steady buzz in the simplest way possible, right? Short of drinking straight from a bottle of whiskey, this little bubbly concoction should have you covered!

 

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The Recipe

What you need:

  • A bottle of Prosecco–it doesn’t have to be fancy. Or hell, pick up more, especially if your family is high-maintenance. Get home & throw it in the fridge. No one likes warm bubbly.
  • Cranberry Juice (Ocean Spray should do the trick. You really don’t want to be traipsing into Whole Foods RIGHT before Thanksgiving to get organic, super tart cranberry juice harvested by consenting bog farmers, do you?)
  • A couple limes to squeeze. Or, make it simpler & get the lime juice in a bottle, though I always prefer fresh-squeezed. (Go ahead. Call me a hipster. I dare you.)
  • Simple Syrup (You can make it yourself using this recipe from Food & Wine–it’s easy! Or you can buy it, you lazy bum.)

See? Easy, right? Now, to mix it up and get you *ahem* relaxed before everyone comes over…

How to Make It

Dump 1 oz cranberry juice, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 1 tsp simple syrup into a shaker full of ice. Shake it up until your fingers start feeling cold. Pour the chilled mixture into a champagne flute. (Or a lager glass. Whatever floats your boat.) Fill the rest of the glass with the chilled Prosecco, give it a quick stir, and you’re done! Garnish with a couple cranberries or a wedge of lime, if you so desire.

Now, the most important part. DRINK IT.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, folks. Find something to be thankful for, and toast with those you love.

And please, please, PLEASE–don’t drink and drive. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. You may end up hurting someone’s loved one(s), and yourself. Drink responsibly–I’ll thank you for it.

Never Say Never: Tequila

Tequila shots for all of us...

Shots, shots, shots… NO. Photo by: taylorandayumi

For years, I have proclaimed that tequila & I are enemies… But my friends seem to believe in the old adage, “Keep your friends close, & your enemies closer.” What do I mean? They keep making me try different kinds of tequila, tequila cocktails, and talking about tequila, and dammit! I’m starting to like it, and dare I say, I think tequila likes me back. Never say never. Seriously–you’ll be forced to eat your words, and that’s just no fun at all.

But mezcal, on the other hand… It’s smoky, and can be a little overwhelming for me, so I tend to avoid it when possible. When it’s done right, however… I can’t get enough.

My friend Luke DeTraz is hosting a cocktail education series at The Gladly in Phoenix, and he invited me to join the tequila class. (See? Tequila pushers, all of them!) After an hour of education about how tequila is made and a tasting of a variety of tequila & mezcal, Luke made a couple cocktails for everyone to sample. My tastebuds took notice of the Antigua Usanza, Luke’s take on an Old Fashioned. Made with the El Silencio Joven blend & Amargo Vallet liqueur (which is AMAZING, by the way. Move over, Fernet), the smoky goodness of mezcal is blended beautifully with the Amargo & a coffee chile syrup that you’ll want to devour by itself. For National Tequila Day, I thought it’d be nice to share a tequila (okay, mezcal) drink that I enjoy. Luke was kind enough to share his recipe, which is below, but be warned–this cocktail is not for the faint of heart, Coors Light or Patron drinkers. (I couldn’t resist.)

The Antigua Usanza, a take on an Old Fashioned, made with mezcal.

The Antigua Usanza, a take on an Old Fashioned, made with mezcal.

Antigua Usanza

  • 1 oz el Silencio Joven
  • 1 oz of a good, bourbon-y Añejo (Luke used ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Añejo, which is excellent)
  • 0.5 oz coffee chile syrup
  • 0.5 oz Amargo Vallet
  • 1 orange peel
In a cocktail shaker or pint glass, combine all ingredients. Add ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Squeeze orange peel over drink, making sure oils fall into glass, place in the drink, & serve.
Recipe for Coffee-Chile Syrup:
  • 1 cup coffee or espresso
  • 1 cup dark muscavado
  • 2 chili de arbol

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Let boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash chilies during the process for more heat.

Cheers! I hope you don’t wake up with any regrets tomorrow morning.

Tequila will get you every time!

Negroni Week in the PHX

Image from negroniweek.com

Image from negroniweek.com

Negroni Week is here! Negroni Week is here!

DISCLAIMER: If your drink of choice is a vodka/soda water, or GOD FORBID, whipped cream vodka, you may want to skip this post entirely. (Hey, I’m just trying to save you some time here.)

Wait, wait. Let me back up for a second. First of all, I love me a good Negroni. What’s in a Negroni, you ask? It’s a classic cocktail, made of equal parts of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, an apertif that is slightly sweet, spicy, yet bitter. Combine all ingredients in a glass full of ice, stir, & enjoy the smooth, bitter flavors as they wash over your palate.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into Negroni Week, shall we? It started on June 1 (yeah, sue me, I’m late. My original blog post is wandering around aimlessly in the interwebs), and runs until June 7. Negroni Week was created in 2013 by the fine folks at Imbibe Magazine and Campari to celebrate of one of the world’s most wonderful cocktails (and its variations!), as well as to raise money for charitable causes around the world. From its inception, Negroni Week has grown from over 100 participating bars to more than 1,300 bars around the world participating & has raised more than $120,000 for charities! See? Drinking can be good for you!

As a lover of classic cocktails, and especially the Negroni, here are a few of the places I will be checking out through June 7th:

Photo by cwgalli.

Photo by cwgalli.

Crudo. Phoenix. Micah Olson is at it again… He created a cocktail that’s a refreshing take on a traditional Negroni, and I can’t wait to get it on my taste buds. They’re doing a saltwater-cured barrel to age their Negroni variation using Campari, Bols Genever, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Cocchi Rosa, & watermelon. The barrel was cured with salt water to lend a little saltiness to the cocktail while it ages, which brings out the flavor of the watermelon and tones down the bitterness that is found in a Negroni. For the cocktail, they muddle a piece of watermelon in the bottom of the mixing glass and then add the cocktail, and stir with ice. The watermelon adds a refreshing note to the cocktail that is a welcome addition in the desert this time of year!

Bitter & TwistedPhoenix. I’m not sure if the boys behind the bar at B&T will be mixing up anything special for Negroni Week, but I can tell you that the setting is swanky, their cocktails are spot-on, and they’ll be donating to HALO Animal Rescue.

Traditional Negroni at Taggia at the Firesky Resort

Traditional Negroni at Taggia at the Firesky Resort

Taggia at Firesky. Scottsdale. Steph Teslar is a badass behind the bar, and the Bar Ambassador for all three Kimpton properties in the state of Arizona. In addition to the traditional Negroni, they’ll be serving up a Portofino, made with 2 ounces of Campari, a pinch of salt (stirred until dissolved), a large orange peel, and topped off with Lemon Soda from Pelligrino, and garnished with a sprig of rosemary. This cocktail isn’t messing around!

Nook Kitchen's Negroni Sbagliato

Nook Kitchen’s Negroni Sbagliato

Nook Kitchen. Phoenix.  I recently discovered Nook Kitchen, a great little neighborhood restaurant with great wood-fired pizzas & a menu I need to keep exploring (we’ll discuss their poutine in a future post. It. Is. Amazing). They have a Negroni Sbagliato on their menu, and it’s light, bubbly, and the sweetness of the Campari shines through. Made with Bull Dog Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, sparkling wine, & orange bitters, it’s perfect for happy hour or brunch!

There are plenty of other favorites that are a part of Negroni Week, but let’s be real here–there’s only one of me, and I only have one liver. If the places I listed aren’t up your alley, check out The Gladly, Linger Longer Lounge, or Shady’s in Phoenix, or The Upton, Counter Intuitive (if you haven’t been yet, GO!), Roka Akor, or Bourbon Steak in Scottsdale!

To get the full list of Arizona bars participating in Negroni Week, as well as the charities they are donating proceeds to, click here (select Country & State). I want to see where you go to enjoy your Negroni–please use hashtags #NegroniWeek and #boozemafia on Twitter & Instagram!

Cheers, and PLEASE–designate a driver or get an Uber or Lyft to get you home safely!

The Margarita: the AZ Bitters Lab Way

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Mmm.
Photo by Michael Napoleon

As some of you may know, I do NOT like tequila. Not because it’s evil or tastes bad, but because it can make sweet, little me into a raging monster. Sometimes. Okay, most of the time. And no one likes a hostile boozer.

But, National Tequila Day is tomorrow, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one of my favorite margarita recipes with you. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and oh–it has my favorite, Más Mole bitters, from AZ Bitters Lab in it.

Margarita Tommy-Style (as featured on the AZBL website)

  • 2 oz reposado or añejo tequila
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz agave syrup (half agave nectar, half water)
  • 1-2 dashes of AZBL Más Mole bitters

Add all ingredients in to a shaker, add ice, shake for 20 seconds, double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, and drink up!!

To get your own Más Mole bitters, visit AZBL online & get some here: http://azbitterslab.com/shop/

And remember–always booze responsibly!

Summertime: Orange Dreamsicle Martini

As a child, I remember running to the ice cream truck in the summers and always getting my favorite, the Orange Creamsicle. But now that I’m an adult, it’d probably be a little creepy if I made a mad dash toward an ice cream truck in my stilettos, don’t you think? (Sidebar: Were ice cream trucks always so creepy?!)

So, when it came time for my appearance on Restaurant Live AZ podcast with my friend Susie Timm, I considered making an Orange Creamsicle cocktail. Susie said that this drink “makes feel like a child, running through fresh-cut grass, barefoot.” And so, I present you with my take on this deliciousness.

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Dreamsicle in my Kitchen

Orange Dreamsicle Martini

1 oz Whipped Cream vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1.5 oz orange juice
1.5 oz half & half

Shake with ice in shaker, served up. You can top it with whipped cream, if you’d like–you know you want to!

And as always… Please booze responsibly!

Boozin’ on Vacation: Dragon Silk

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Dragon Silk

I recently went to Maui on vacation, and thanks to my food nerd friends, I had plenty of great restaurants to check out… but not one recommendation for a great place to have cocktails while there. On my last night in Maui, I ended up going to Star Noodle and ponying up to the bar on my own to check out the food and, possibly, find a cocktail worth writing about.

I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the bartenders, Zane. He was funny and engaging, and told me he could make me a bourbon cocktail that would knock my sand-encrusted sandals off. And guess what? It totally did. He was inspired by a friend’s trip to South America, where she enjoyed Pisco Sours almost daily–she was craving something similar, but with bourbon, and Zane created the cocktail he calls “Dragon Silk.”

Recipe*:

​2 oz Jack Daniels or any bourbon
0.5 oz Aperol
1 Egg white
0.75 oz Fresh Lime sour
Nigori Sake

Directions:

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine egg white, bourbon, Aperol, and fresh lime sour. Cover, shake vigorously for 15 seconds, and strain into six-ounce cocktail glass. Top with Nigori sake, garnish with a slice of pear.

*Note: Measurements are approximate, as it’s a secret recipe. Try it out and let me know what you think!