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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Magnum Cigar Bar Serves Up Craft Cocktails That Pair Well With Stogies

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
This Sazerac can and should be paired with a cigar at Magnum.
If nostalgia is what you're searching for in a bar, Magnum Cigar Bar pretty much feels like a step back in time. With a clientele of mostly old dudes puffing on cigars bought at the store next door, the vibe can certainly verge on boy's club. The whiskey-centric back bar is lined with backlit bottles from all over the world. To pair with it, there's a leather-bound book that lists every spirit in the house. To focus your efforts a little, before diving into the spirit book, sample a couple of drinks from the small, newly revamped cocktail menu.

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The State of the Cocktail: Is Mixology's Hold on the Culinary World Nearing an End?

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Are you in love with wild spirituous creations or are you ready for it to go away?
On its own, the word mixology just feels pretentious. I get it. The image it evokes is of some bearded, bow-tied hipster bartender turning his nose up while shaking your $15 drink that's basically an Old Fashioned with some berries and a weird savory component. In fact, I don't think I've met one mixologist in town who wouldn't more readily describe him or herself as a bartender. People who insist on the title generally don't deserve it.

So let's just drop the word for now and focus on the craft cocktail movement as a whole, which hopefully merits a few less eye rolls in your book.

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Sloe Gin: A Tart, Historical Liqueur That's Making a Comeback

Categories: Hooch

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poppet with a camera/Flickr
First off: it's sloe gin, not slow gin.
So you might have recently seen a cocktail on a menu featuring sloe gin. Maybe you've seen a bottle of it at your favorite liquor store. If that's the case, you were likely intrigued by the liqueur's deep red color. Sloe gin is a gin-based liqueur (or it should be), kind of like Pimm's No. 1's fruity cousin. The reason you might be seeing it more at local bars is likely because its tart but still sweet tang adds a unique twist to cocktails that you have to try.

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