Whip It Good: Chartreuse Hot Chocolate

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

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!)

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.

 

I’m Thankful for… This Cocktail.

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!

 

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The Recipe

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.

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!

Boozy Favorites: Bar Crudo

Crudo Sign

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.

The Daring Dutchman

The Daring Dutchman

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.

Core Survivor #2

Core Survivor #2

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.

Corleone

The Coreleone.
Don’t mess with it.

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.

Fried Pickles!

Fried Pickles!

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

Gettin’ Crafty at Calistro Bistro

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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's award-winning Thai Basil sangria. It was so warm & cozy, almost like a mulled wine.

Wayne’s award-winning Thai Basil sangria. It was so warm & cozy, almost like a mulled wine.

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, paired with Crow's Dairy Chevre.

Peach Gin Rickey, paired with Crow’s Dairy Chevre.

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.

Rosemary Pear Martini

Rosemary Pear Martini – crisp & refreshing, with a savory twist of rosemary.

Rosemary-Pear Martini

  • 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!

The Midnight Moon with coffee panna cotta. Wowza.

The Midnight Moon with coffee panna cotta. Wowza.

Midnight Moon

  • 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!