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!)

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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

 

 

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.