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!)

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!

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

Thanksgiving Eve: Events around Phoenix

illustration by Charles Bloom, The Kansas City Star (2007)

illustration by Charles Bloom, The Kansas City Star (2007)

Ah, Thanksgiving Eve. The night before Thanksgiving, often touted as the biggest drinking night of the year. Why, you ask? Well, think about it:

  • Lots of people come “home” for the holiday, so it’s a great night of reunions with friends (+ escaping from family, but who am I to judge? Escape away!)
  • Who wants to entertain guests at home the night before Thanksgiving? No one. Isn’t it enough that you’re hosting a meal for a rag-tag group of humans the next day? Happy hour to the rescue!
  • Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect hangover cure: Need I say more, folks?

I’ll be out & about on the evening of Wednesday, November 26th, and here are a couple of the options I’m considering from around the Valley:

Umami

Turkey ramen, anyone?

Turkey ramen, anyone?

Umami is doing a “Nightmare before Thanksgiving” feast from 3pm-7pm on November 26th. Fuel up for a night out with hearty turkey ramen and drink specials at 21 E. 6th Street in Tempe. More information at www.umamitempe.com.

SumoMaya

The complimentary margarita from SumoMaya!

The complimentary margarita from SumoMaya

SumoMaya is throwing a party that will make you feel good about boozing with friends! From 11 am-1am (yes, that would be Thankgiving morning), SumoMaya will host a fundraiser to benefit the Andre House of Arizona. For only $10, you get a “Happy Hour Pass” (100% the proceeds go to benefit Andre House) to enjoy Happy Hour pricing on food and drinks all day, plus you get one complimentary margarita. In addition, there will be $5 cocktail specials, a DJ, and some other fun surprises. Start a new pre-Thanksgiving tradition with friends & family at SumoMaya. For more information or to make a reservation, call 480-397-9520.

Kelly’s at Southbridge

Kelly’s at Southbridge is hosting their 3rd annual “Friends-giving” Party.  Live Music from Lee Perreira (he’s fantastic–regularly performs at Jade Bar, as well as The Gladly, & easy on the eyes, too). Get an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and/or Wild Turkey Shots for $5/each. For your inner fat kid, there will also be a Pie Eating Contest for Nordstrom Holiday Gift Cards, Ugly Sweater Holiday Card Portrait Studio (Kelly’s will have props and portrait studio that will allow guests to take their cheesy holiday photos to either e-mail them to themselves or post to their Facebook profiles).

Pink Pony

324670_315834201771491_175377335817179_1077530_254223868_oThe fine folks of Pink Pony and Hot Dish, Inc. are teaming  up with with Alex Phillips of Grand Canyon Brewery for a fun little tasting event–I love the intimacy of these events, to be honest. Enjoy pairings of small-production, artisan cheeses with the beers of Grand Canyon Brewery. Chef Stephen Eldridge will be serving family-style snacks, including Pink Pony’s amazing homemade pretzels (I am a HUGE fan). Must buy tickets online at http://hotdishinc.com.

Roka Akor

Roka Akor may be known as a fine dining establishment with some of the best sushi & steaks in town, but they’re getting in the pre-Turkey Day spirit by helping you kick off your evening right! They’re extending their Happy Hour from 4:30pm-8pm, and will be offering drink specials from Tito’s Vodka, too!

Well, that’s it for me. Remember, PLEASE be careful that night–DUI checkpoints are in full effect, and police will be out in force… to enforce. Please call a cab, a private car, an Uber, or a Lyft. (And if you’re a first time Uber user, use my referral code, UBERBOOZYBROWNGIRL, to get a credit after your first ride! But please, be careful of those deadly surge charges!)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all, and to all, a good (and safe) night!

(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!

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!