8 Tips on Mixing the Perfect Cocktail from 4 Local Mixologists

Lynne with panel mic.jpg
Courtesy of Salt Agency
Lynne Rossetto Kasper talks cocktails with top local bartenders
What does the cocktail enthusiast with no bartending experience need to know to make an awesome craft cocktail? Lynne Rossetto Kasper -- the sonorous talk show host of NPR's The Splendid Table asked that question of four of the Valley's top mixologists at the Hotel Palomar last weekend, and she got some terrific answers.

See also:
- Tastemaker #30: Travis Nass
- Lynne Rossetto Kasper Dishes on a Caller Who Cooked a Turkey in Hot Tar and Being a Reluctant Rock Star

Kasper had come to Phoenix to help NPR (and affiliate station KJZZ) with their fund drive, hosting a cocktail-education event that drew a crowd of mostly older listeners whose interest in craft cocktails is dubious. Truth is, most of them were probably there to see their favorite foodie in the flesh. And Kasper was everything her fans imagined she'd be:

Cocktails --Richie's from event.jpg
Courtesy of Salt Agency
Richie Moe's sassy tequila-based cocktail
By turns charming, erudite, down-to-earth, funny and quick on her feet as she introduced, chatted up and quizzed her four panelists -- Shel Bourdon (Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails), Travis Nass (Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa Inn), Dwayne Allen (The Breadfruit) and Richie Moe (Citizen Public House).

Kasper got the party started by pointing out that the U.S. is undergoing a cocktail revolution unlike anything seen since the late 19th Century and the pre-Prohibition era. Then she explained that each panelist had created a cocktail around his/her favorite spirit: bourbon for Bourdon, gin for Nass, rum for Allen and tequila for Moe. The panelists spoke about the ingredients they used and the thought process behind their cocktails, which attendees could sample from small plastic cups. Kasper sipped them on stage, making complimentary remarks about each one: Nass's take on the classic gimlet, for example was "transcendental," and she could "taste the nuances" in Bourdon's modern-day whiskey sour. Lots of cocktail territory was covered, some of it basic, some of it geeky in the extreme.

Then Kasper asked each mixologist to give two pieces of advice to novice cocktail-makers, and here's what they said:

Location Info


Hotel Palomar

2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

Hermosa Inn

5532 N. Palo Christi Road, Paradise Valley, AZ

Category: General

The Breadfruit

108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Citizen Public House

7111 E. 5th Ave. Ste. E., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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