Barr Hill Gin and Vodka Made with Raw Honey Now Available in Phoenix

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Caledonia's Barr Hill vodka is definitely not your standard potato or grain liquor.
Hailing from northern Vermont, Caledonia was known for a long time for their local, raw honey. The beekeeping family, now led by Todd Hardie, ventured into the spirit distilling world about five years ago and now the unique vodka and gin from Caledonia Spirits is hitting Arizona. Using the honey from Hardie's farm, the spirits, and specifically the gin, have a great botanical quality lent from the flowers the bees pollinate in the area.

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Arizona Cocktail Week and Arizona Beer Week 2015 Are Double-Booked -- Again

Categories: Hooch

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Evie Carpenter
February 14-21 is going to be a very busy time for you if you like cocktails and beer.
At the end of last week, I got two e-mails. One announced 2015 Arizona Cocktail Week, the other 2015 Arizona Beer Week. I should be excited. But I'm just kind of annoyed because both take place February 14 to 21. No big surprise, as that's happened the past few years without fail, and yet I really don't understand why this must be the case.

While the upcoming festival season is looking bright, the competition between events is frustrating in a town that would be better served by the two culinary events building each other up and reinforcing the state's beverage culture, rather than forcing people to pick which is worth the time and money.


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8 Ailments You Can Cure or Prevent with Liquor

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Drink up, doc's orders.
It's probably best to begin by saying any of the claims made in the following post apply only to moderate alcohol consumption. In case you didn't know, overindulging in spirits and cocktails is actually bad for you. Go figure.

Acting as the spirit guide, Last Drop bartender Travis Nass schooled me on some of the purported benefits, both past and present, of imbibing liquor. Whether or not you believe it is up to you, but there is certainly scientific evidence to support some of it.

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The Truth About Your Arizona Tequila

Categories: Hooch

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Mexican Moonshine Facebook/Jeff Turner
This tequila is as Arizonan as Roger Clyne himself, right?
It's no big secret that tequila isn't tequila unless it's made in Jalisco, Mexico. Like Champagne and sparking wine, there's tequila and there are agave spirits. I'm tempted to wax poetic and go full bard status here, so there are some things you should know about just what is in the name tequila and whether it really is any sweeter than its U.S.-made agave spirit brethren.

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Sibona Amaro Available at Barrelhouse in Chandler. Rejoice, Amaro Nerds

Categories: Hooch

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Liza/Flickr
Cin cin to Sibona in Phoenix!
It's not too often Phoenix gets to brag that we had something before California, but we do get to show off our bottles of Sibona Amaro to everyone in the Golden State because we got it first. The distilled liqueur from Piedmont, Italy is bold and extraordinarily complex and only available to try at a few places locally so far. If you're intent on being at the cusp of amaro trends, get a shot of Sibona at Barrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails in Chandler.

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And the Winner of Tuesday Night's Most Imaginative Bartender Competition Is...

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Who made this intriguingly yellow cocktail and took top honors Tuesday night?
Who would've guessed that the top two drinks of Tuesday night's USBG Most Imaginative Bartender Competition at the W Hotel, by significant margins, would both prominently feature turmeric? However, taking the sponsored spirit into account -- Bombay Sapphire -- the spice trade botanical definitely makes sense historically. Plus, it gave the drinks a unique savory element and a bright yellow-orange color.

All of those elements, and many more, are important in the competition that tests almost every aspect of competitive bartending from start to finish. And, Phoenix, after a near perfect technical show that was definitely an undertaking to judge for myself and the four other judges, we know who to cheer for in the Las Vegas national competition next month.


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Drinking in San Diego: How It Compares to Phoenix's Cocktail Scene

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
For one thing, San Diego has cocktails by the beach... so, yeah.
San Diegans are probably sick of the sight of us "Zonies," as they refer to us. During summer months, it's pretty much guaranteed that many Phoenicians will head to the city to escape and when we do it seems every time there's a bevy of new food and drink spots popping up that warrant a visit. While San Diego's unique style is cementing its place in the world of imbibing, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's leagues ahead of us in terms of cocktail culture.

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10 Best Metro Phoenix Cocktails of 2014 -- So Far

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Just try to guess by looking at The Darkness what's in it.
It's been a great year thus far for craft cocktails in Phoenix, making it pretty difficult to pin down just 10 drinks to mention. While original tiki drinks have made their way back into the scene in a big way, simplicity, with a focus on high-quality craft spirits, seems to be king. Other trends include the use of amaros, apertifs, and fortified wines to give cocktails flavor without added juices or syrups. However, uncommon produce, like passion fruit, and homemade bitters, syrups, sodas, and more still rule the cocktail world in town-- and that's definitely not a bad thing.

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Judging Cocktails: 9 Lessons Learned After Drinking 18 Mai Tais in a Row

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Holy Mai Tai, Batman! Where do you even start?
Last night, 18 of Phoenix and Tucson's best bartenders took to the stage at Sandbar in Chandler to compete in the Mai Tai Competition. The two winning drinks were chosen, along with their bartenders, to go to Kona, Hawaii to represent Arizona in the national Don's Mai Tai Competition, named after iconic tiki bartender Don the Beachcomber. Since the winner of the national event gets $10,000 and the title of world's best Mai Tai, on top of already getting to go to Hawaii, stakes were high. That means judging all 18 of the drinks was no easy task and I definitely learned a thing or two about drinking cocktails.

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10 Herbal Liqueurs and Wines You Should Try (That Aren't Fernet)

Categories: Hooch

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veganbaking.net/Flickr
Spice up your drinking routine with a different herbal liqueur.
If you're stuck in the no man's land between being completely sick of shots of Fernet Branca and going for the gusto and switching to shots of bitters, you aren't alone. Luckily, the wide world of digestifs, aperitifs, and whatever else you want to classify them as have something bitter, sweet, floral, and herbaceous out there for pretty much anyone. Finding one you like-- I mean really, really like-- is like making a new best friend, and I can think of ten you might want to add to the short list of potential drinking buddies.

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