Beth Sacco's Purple Hooter

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

​Yesterday we met Beth Sacco, longtime bartender at the now-closed Billet Bar and newbie at British Open Pub. Today she shares with us the recipe for one of her favorite drinks to make: the Purple Hooter.

The ingredients:
1 part Chambord or other raspberry liqueur
1 part Vodka
1 part Lemon-lime soda
1 part Cranberry juice

How to make it:
Add Chambord, vodka and cranberry in an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and strain into a large shot glass. Pour in lemon-lime soda, stir, and enjoy.

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Beth Sacco at British Open Pub

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Beth Sacco
The bar: British Open Pub (1334 N. Scottsdale Road, 480-941-4195)
The pedigree: Sacco spent a decade cultivating a large following at Billet Bar, but when the bar closed down in November 2010, she began teaching bartending at ABC Bartending School in Tempe. She began working at British Open after a former coworker suggested she'd be a good fit. We caught her on her second day.

So it's your second day here. How have things been so far?
It's pretty good, it's fun. It's just different. When you first enter in somewhere, everybody's a little wary of you. You're a new person walking into a bar. But everybody's really friendly and nice.

Do you think you'll be able to build the same army of regulars you had at Billet Bar?
Yeah, definitely. On my first day, I probably had four of my own personal friends I had served for ten years come in. I worked at a place where I was taken care of and catered to for 10 years. I'll probably never be able to find a job like that again. But you never know.

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Matthew Wohleb's Amaro Old Fashioned

Categories: Behind the Bar
Amaro Old Fashioned.jpg
Zach Fowle

​Yesterday we met Matt Wohleb, sommelier and bar manager at Cave Creek restaurant Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge. Today he shares with us the recipe for one the Amaro Old Fashioned, an Italian twist on a cocktail classic made using Amaro Montenegro, a brand of bitters made using more than 40 herbs, and Amarena cherries, the greatest cherries known to man.

"Not many people know about Morena cherries," Wohleb says. "But they have this candy sauce that almost evaporates a little bit and becomes almost like paste, so it mixes really well."

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Matthew Wohleb at Amaro

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Matthew Wohleb
The bar: Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge (28234 N. Tatum Blvd, Cave Creek, 480-502-1920)
The pedigree: Wohleb began working at age 20 at Kazimierz World Wine Bar. The place's vast wine cellar spurred an interest in the beverage, so he moved on to other wine-centric spots-- Cowboy Ciao and Caffe Boa -- before landing at Amaro, where he's now bar manager and sommelier.

What different about your job at Amaro?
Here is my first management role, and my first buying role. So this is the first time I've had a significant amount of freedom as far as what I want to bring to the guests, as opposed to before, where I didn't have any cool new products. Now, if I like something or if there's a new wine I want to bring in, I can.

The places you've worked at previously have been pretty similar in their high-end focus and wine selections. Why did you choose those bars?
I feel like I'm fast, but I don't have certain "assets" that would help me out at most bars.
So I kind of rely on wine knowledge and bar knowledge. I'm more into getting people excited about a product than games or entertaining in different ways.

Is your wine knowledge pretty vast?
The thing is, the more you know, the more you realize you don't know anything. So it's one of those things where I'm superior to a lot of the people I meet, but I know even more people who would clown me and make my knowledge look like nothing. I study a lot and I love it; it's a passion. I drink a lot of wine, but I'm into all spirits. I'm a bar geek.

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Samantha Rogers' Elderfire

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

​Yesterday we met Samantha Rogers, bartender at the Hotel Valley Ho's Café Zuzu. Today she shares with us the recipe for the Elderfire, a drink she invented for a mixology competition held by Bombay Sapphire.

"I went in a classic direction," Rogers says. "With all the botanicals in gin and with the elderflower being so floral, it's going to go pretty well together."

It's a cocktail in which you can taste the booze, which is how Rogers likes it.
A martini is traditionally just liquor, so I go dirty or with a twist. Now we're doing all these crazy things where a martini has 13 ingredients, but you shouldn't alter the taste of the alcohol so much. That's why I chose to go with the elderflower -- it enhances the gin, but doesn't overpower it.

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cafe zuzu

Samantha Rogers at Cafe Zuzu

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Samantha Rogers
The bar: Café Zuzu (6850 E. Main St., 480-421-7997)
The pedigree: Rogers got into bartending when she was 20, starting as the daytime bartender at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant in Tempe. She spent four years there, eventually working her way up to bar manager and crafting the wine list as well as all the cocktail recipes for the restaurant. She's been at Hotel Valley Ho's Café Zuzu for about 18 months.

Do you miss yelling "opa!" and smashing plates?
Yes! We chucked plates across that restaurant like nobody's business. And that Ouzo, the traditional shot -- for something that's only 40-proof, it'll knock you on your ass. It was a lot of fun.

Do you ever get the urge to smash a plate here?
I do! Sometimes I have to stop myself. I'm like, oh wait. That would be weird if I did that here. I've been here about a year and a half and it's been a big change of pace, but I've learned a lot. I've gotten to compete in a lot of mixology competitions.

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Matt Slenske's American Junkie

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

​Yesterday we met Matt Slenske, bar manager at American Junkie. Today he shares with us the recipe for the bar's signature drink, aptly named the American Junkie. Packed with ingredients, it's like a Long Island Iced Tea gone to the loony bin.

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Matt Slenske at American Junkie

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Matt Slenske
The bar: American Junkie (4364 N. 75th St., 480-990-3000)
The pedigree: Slenske got his start at Devil House, his local hangout during college. Since then he's tended bar at Sanctuary (now Mist) and Acme as well as Loco Patron, where he spent four years before American Junkie's owner recruited him as bar manager in November 2008.

How did you get your first bartending job?
Devil House was right by the campus, so I would just go there between classes and hang out. I saw the bartenders, how much fun they were having and how much they were making, and decided I wanted to do that. So I was just going there and working for free, and I guess they felt bad for me because they finally gave me a job. I wanted to learn and wanted to work there, so it worked out well.

Do you miss working at any of the places you used to bartend for?
I miss Loco, and Devil House was like my stomping grounds. But I love this place, too. It's like a family here.

It seems like most of the bartenders in this town know each other in one way or another. Do you all get together a lot?
It's interesting, because our weekends start on Monday and go until Tuesday. Our workweeks usually don't start until Wednesday and go to Sunday. It's hard, because we have so many people to see. You kind of have an interval of time you have to spend visiting each person who's working. I have friends at Smash Box, Mint, Loco, and you have to stop in for an hour or so to see each of them. Everybody in town is kind of recycled.

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Dolh Chompupong's Counterfeit Cantaloupe

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

​Yesterday we met Dolh Chompupong, bar manager at bank-turned-nightclub The Mint. Today he shares with us the recipe for his Counterfeit Cantaloupe.

Why counterfeit? There's no actual cantaloupe in the drink, which is incredible given that the martini tastes like Sunday brunch. The drink is usually garnished with a slice of cantaloupe, but with the listeria outbreak and subsequent recall of most cantaloupe on the market, Chompupong says for now he'll wait until it's "back in season."

At just 174 calories, the cocktail is part of The Mint's new Skinny Menu. It's perfectly balanced, with just a hint of tartness and not a drop of booziness.

"The Veev acai does a great job of smoothing things out," Chompupong says. "And acai is a super fruit -- very healthy for you. Probably not in liquor form, but we'll go with it anyway."

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Kickboxing and $850 Margaritas with Dolh Chompupong at The Mint

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Dolh Chompupong
The bar: The Mint (7373 E. Camelback Rd., 480-947-6468) 
The pedigree: Dolh's always worked in the industry. He started in his parents' restaurant washing dishes, cooking, bussing tables and making drinks. He's been at several places around town, including Pink Taco and Roka Akor. Until recently, he was bar manager at Sushi Roku, where he started out working breakfast ("Miserable. Miserable. Imagine setting up breakfast in a Japanese restaurant and having to wake up at 6 a.m. 365 days a year.") He made the short move to The Mint about four months ago.

You were set up pretty well at Sushi Roku. What pushed you to come here?
Having a creative voice. This is the menu I wanted to have. Hopefully someday I can have my own bar or restaurant, and this is what I would want to put out. I'm very proud of it. The people here believed in the concepts that I had.

You're one of the few established bartenders in town I've met who actually went and got a bartender's certificate. Do you think it's helped?
A lot of people joke about it, but it actually gave me a lot of insight on how things are done, and once you learn how to do things to a high quality, everything you do comes out 100 times better. You'll see a lot of people just pour liquor into the tins, but even if your proportions are right, you never really know how much is in this tin. They teach you how not to overpour, how to shake properly. You wouldn't believe how many people shake a tin like this, where the lip of the tin is pointed at the customer. If you do it that way, it'll spray out at the customer. It's little things like that.

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