Stephanie Teslar of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Culinary Art (VIDEO)

Categories: Big Brains

Heather Hoch
Stephanie Teslar serves up her Border Patrol cocktail at Blue Hound.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Stephanie Teslar.

Stephanie Teslar has really outdone herself.

While curating the cocktail menu at Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails, she created one of the Valley's most unique and instantly alluring mixed drinks: the Lawless. The show-stopping drink combines whiskey, wormwood liqueur, demerara sugar, and Teslar's handmade "truck stop" bitters, which contain "everything you'd buy at a truck stop," like chocolate, coffee, and tobacco. With that smoky, sweet, and dark combination of flavors stirred and chilled, she smokes a glass with vanilla caramel pipe tobacco and pours in the concoction.

The result is an aromatic, sippable cocktail that embodies all the best elements of drinking whiskey while smoking a cigar. It's this innovative, unique approach that sets Teslar apart.

See also: "Urban Legend" Awards Announced in Honor of New Times' Fifth Big Brain Awards

Video by Evie Carpenter.

Teslar got her start as a barback in her hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when she was 17. Eventually graduating to a role of bartender at the upscale and old fashioned steakhouse, O'Malley's, Teslar began by mixing up the classics -- though she admits she shook up many more martinis than she would've liked to.

Teslar came to Phoenix to head Blue Hound's bar in September 2012 after running Criollo, a tequila and mezcal bar in Flagstaff, and immediately began experimenting with flavor and accessibility in craft cocktails.

"Working in a hotel is a new challenge because I have had to modify my personal techniques for high volume without losing integrity," she says. "I want people that aren't well-versed to find the cocktails approachable, but still be unique enough for the afficianados."

Heather Hoch
Teslar uses local produce in many of her recipes.
In terms of flavor, Teslar loves using bold, bright local citrus, herbs from local farmers markets, and has recently developed a love of aromatized wines. Her use of local ingredients shines in components like a McClendon's Select blood orange syrup and her in-house infused gin, which features locally grown botanicals like white sage, sorrel, creosote, ribena, and juniper.

Location Info

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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My Voice Nation Help

@ Jukes Ms. Teslar is under the category of culinary arts. And believe it or not, modern day bartending is a culinary art. 

Look at any city these days worth their salt and see great chefs and bartenders adding to the culture of that city via food and drinks as much as any artist or developer. 

Every city from Sydney to Berlin to Seattle has recognised this. Even James beard is now recognizing bar programs from around the country. So yes, being a skilled bartender in Phoenix does and should qualify them for this award in this category.

TommyCollins topcommenter

Given the opportunity I will go by and give Ms. Teslar a shot at a decent drink. However I was treated to a business lunch recently at the Blue Hound. I will assume they were having an off day. It was one of the worst meals I've had in a very long time, and all four of us at the table had the same experience. My iced tea was the highlight of the meal, but the hostess and wait staff seemed bothered that we were there, honestly. Maybe because we arrived after 12:30.


I don't deny that creating cocktails takes a certain amount of creativity and I applaud Ms. Teslar's devotion to her craft.  But only in Phoenix would being a bartender qualify you for an art award supposedly devoted to innovation and community improvement.

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