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
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.)
- 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
- 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 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:
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 & Twisted. Phoenix. 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.
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. 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!
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.”
2 oz Jack Daniels or any bourbon
0.5 oz Aperol
1 Egg white
0.75 oz Fresh Lime sour
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!
I recently visited Market Street Kitchen in Scottsdale, Arizona, and had the opportunity to sample Aviation Gin, a new offering in Arizona from House Spirits. It’s botanical, but clean–none of that fierce juniper flavor that you get in gins like Tanqueray. Aviation is a dry gin, which is a shift away from the usual overabundance of juniper toward a balance of botanicals. Aviation explores notes of lavender, cardamom, and sarsaparilla to capture the lushness and creativity of the Pacific Northwest. Aviation claims to offer the American palate its first real taste of American gin.
Market Street Kitchen just rolled out their new Spring menu, and The Aviation Cocktail, a classic, is featured on their cocktail menu. My friend Rich Heider, the bar manager at MSK and a brand supporter of House Spirits, whipped up this gorgeous drink for me, & I was instantly charmed by its lightly tart & floral notes, and its pale blue/violet hue. Get to Market Street Kitchen to get your own, or make your own at home with the recipe below.
The Aviation Cocktail
- 1.5oz Aviation Gin
- 1 tsp Creme de Violette
- 0.5oz Maraschino liqueur
- 0.75oz Freshly pressed lemon juice
- 0.25oz Simple Syrup
In a pint glass or cocktail shaker, add spirits & mixers. Fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Suggested garnish: Cherry on a pick. (Recipe provided by Aviation Gin.)
I confess: I am having an unhealthy love affair with Crudo. The bar, specifically. (C’mon, like you didn’t know that was coming.)
Tucked away in the back of a strip mall in Phoenix, Crudo is a cult favorite of foodies in Phoenix. Their space is open and airy, and makes me feel like I’m somewhere else, like San Francisco. The food is fresh, inventive, and delicious, with the squid ink risotto as a tasty headliner. Chef Cullen also makes all his own cheese in-house–I love the fresh mozzarella with the bacon relish (yes, it’s a real thing!) and caramelized onions. Anyways, enough about the food. For now.
Bar Crudo is run by mixologist Micah Olson, who hails from Phoenix institutions like Merc Bar and Jade Bar at the Sanctuary. His warm smile and affable manner put you right at ease when you walk through the door. There’s a giant chalkboard wall outlining the signature cocktails and small bites available at the bar–note that the full menu is available in the bar, as well. There’s plenty of seating around the cozy bar, but I prefer to pony up and have Micah mix up one of his magical cocktails with the spirit of my choice–always a good option, in my opinion. One of the things I really love is the beautiful glassware that the cocktails are served in. Micah rolled out a few new cocktails last month, and I decided to try them with my trusty cocktailing friend, Chase.
We started off with the Daring Dutchman. I wasn’t sure what to expect, given that the cocktail has mascarpone cheese in it. Yes, that’s right. CHEESE. But holy crap–this one knocked my socks off. The Daring Dutchman is made with Bols Genever, Dried Apricot Shrub, Honey, Mascarpone, Soda Water, & a float of Galliano, and served on ice with a silver straw. The silver straw has a spoon at the bottom, so you can stir your drink and sip, without messing with your vibe–like a spork, but classier. The drink is smooth, sweet, and decadent–like a dessert version of a Bloody Mary. Throw your hesitation to the wind and drink this. Trust me.
The next cocktail we tried was the Core Survivor #2 (not sure what happened to #1, but I’m not asking questions.) Micah mixed up Gin, Cronin’s Swedish Punch, his house-made Grapefruit-Cinnamon Syrup, Bitterman’s Emmanuel Tiki Bitters, dash of lemon, served up with an orange peel garnish.
The last drink on our list was The Corleone. I’m a bourbon girl, but if I were to only drink gin, I would drink this. Made with Plymouth Gin, Alexander Grappa, Muddled Grapes, Lemon, White Wine Syrup, & 50/50 Orange Bitters, and served up. It’s mild, smooth, and just slightly sweet, thanks to the muddled grapes. The Corleone is dangerous–it goes down easy, and next thing you know, you’re teetering off your bar stool. This drink also pairs really well with the infamous Fried Pickles, served with aioli.
Not sure you want to try the Fried Pickles? Suck it up, kids. Drop my name (BoozyBrownGirl) to the staff, and get an order of the salty, crispy treats for only $5! I guarantee that you won’t regret it. As I mentioned, Crudo’s Chef Cullen also serves up amazing food–the Meatloaf Burger is a favorite. It’s moist, tasty, and great to help soak up the booze.
Get yourself over to Bar Crudo sooner than later, my friends. Amazing cocktails, great atmosphere, and the funny, courteous staff sell themselves. Oh, and you can’t forget the daily happy hour–Tuesday through Saturday, from 5 to 7pm!
Crudo & Bar Crudo 3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85018
On November 14, 2012, I was invited to be a part of Calistro Bistro‘s VIP Cocktail Tasting in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been to Calistro a few times in the past and enjoyed their cocktail and happy hour offerings, so I was interested to see what was different. Calistro recently brought on a new operating partner, Jerry Tingle, and one of first suggestions was to ask master mixologist and sommelier Wayne Roemhildt to create a new cocktail program and wine list that would attract drink aficionados from around the Valley.
Wayne, who is a consummate mixologist (showman?), greeted our group with enthusiasm and provided us with creative cocktails with a bit of flair, and kept us entertained through the evening. He served up six cocktails (and yes, they were potent!) and I’ll be highlighting my favorites (with a recipe or two…)
We started off with the Peach Gin Rickey, which took infused gin and peach puree, topped with this ridiculously tasty liqueur called Sathenay Creme de Peche–it’s just a tiny bit dangerous, as it goes down really easy!
Peach Gin Rickey
- 1.5 oz infused gin
- 1 oz peach puree
- 0.5 oz lime juice
- 3-4 drops Fee Bros. Peach Bitters
- Soda water
- Sathenay Creme de Peche
Build all ingredients but soda water in a Collins Glass. Stir with bar spoon, add ice, & fill with soda water. Stir again, and float Sathenay Creme de Peche.
One of my other favorites was the Rosemary Pear Martini. Made with house-infused vodka, it was clean & fresh, but the savory element of rosemary really appealed to me. I’ll have another, please.
- 1.5 oz Rosemary- & Pear-infuse Prairie Organic Vodka
- 1 oz Clear Creek Poire William
- 0.75 oz Rosemary simple syrup
- 0.25 lemon juice
- 2-3 drops Fee Bros. Lemon Bitters
Build all ingredients in a pint glass. Add ice. Shake & strain through a fine strainer.
We finished with a cocktail called the Midnight Moon, which was rich, but paired amazingly well with the coffee panna cotta–my favorite (& most surprising) pairing of the night. Perfect for the girly friend with a sweet tooth!
- 0.25 oz Dekuyper white creme de cocoa
- 0.25 oz Christian Bros brandy
- 0.25 oz Luxardo amaretto
- Prosecco Brut sparkling wine
Build all liqueur in champagne flute. Add sparkling wine to fill. Stir gently to mix ingredients.
Needless to say, by the time we were done “sampling” these incredible cocktails, we were all feeling pretty happy! Thanks to the folks at Calistro for inviting us to check out their new cocktail program, and providing the delicious bites, too!
Boozy Brown Girl says: I’ll definitely be back. The cocktails were fantastic, but also dangerous because they didn’t taste potent. It may only take a couple to push you over the edge! And, as always, please booze responsibly!