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!)

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!

The Aviation Cocktail

The Aviation Cocktail

The Aviation Cocktail

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.)

Cheers!