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
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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 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