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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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.

 

Put a (Big, Giant) Hat on It: The Kentucky Derby

Every spring, I look forward to 2 things: the Arizona BBQ Festival, and checking out a fabulous Kentucky Derby party in town with my favorite foodie sidekick, Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ! The parties have gotten bigger & better, … Continue reading

(Kentucky) Derby Drinkin’

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photo by joanie simon

Back in the day, I celebrated all the big drinking holidays with gusto.

Cinco de Mayo? Bring out the sombreros and crappy beer! St. Patrick’s Day? Green beer, drunk crowds, and long lines to the bathroom–I got this! Valentine’s Day? Oh, wait…

So, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sick of having my feet stomped on, seeing people puke in public places, and hey, can y’all stop trying to hump each other in public? It’s embarrassing. No, really. Especially if you get caught with your pants down on Instagram.

This year, I’m classing it up with my lovely lady of Restaurant Live AZ fame, Joanie Simon, at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the Kentucky Derby. (No, I’m not wearing a ginormous hat. They’re fabulous, but I can’t see or hear ANYTHING, and no one likes hat-hair.) We’ll be on the Orchid Lawn at The Phoenician on May 3rd from 1-4pm, to watch the Kentucky Derby (and silently judge headgear). You can enter the Winner’s Circle Raffle, and enjoy a Woodford Reserve Mint Julep with us, with some classic Southern-style fare to help soak up pair with the bourbon. For more info and to make a reservation, check out Joanie’s blog post!

Feel like wearing your big, swanky hat at home and making your own cocktails? I’ve got you covered, sugar. Check out this great recipe below for a classic Mint Julep from one of my favorite men behind the bar, Micah Olson of Bar Crudo in Phoenix.

Mint Julep

  • 7 mint leaves
  • 2.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • Crushed Ice

Combine mint and simple syrup in the bottom of a silver julep cup (or highball glass) and lightly muddle the mint. Next, add the bourbon and fill the cup with crushed ice–make sure to pour off the excess water first. Garnish with a bunch of mint to make it is impossible to drink your mint julep without burying your nose in mint.

Cheers, and please, drink 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!