Searching for Orange Wine in Phoenix? We Found It.

Categories: Hooch, Vine Geeks

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Shelby Moore
An unexpected glass of orange wine at Hillside Spot for only $7.
I'll have to begin by saying that I was completely oblivious to orange wine -- yes, I'll explain myself here in a moment -- until nearly a season ago while surfing Instagram, a wonderful place where I learn new things from my favorite tastemakers (I like the personal and off-the-cuff pulse for the culinary world that no wikipedia page or google search can offer: it's just more honest, and often slightly more inebriated).

The foodie in this instance is Oliver Strand, a foremost coffee journalist. He was dining at the Builders Arms Hotel in Fitzroy, Australia where among the list of vinos sprawling from Barossa Valley syrahs to natural proseccos and the stuff of Australian co-operative wineries, he pointed out quite literally the first very thing he saw: "Orange gets top billing."


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Counter Intuitive in Scottsdale: Painkillers and Bacon Beignets at Peter Kasperski's Latest (Rotating) Concept

Categories: First Taste, Hooch

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Lauren Saria
Micah Olson makes a New Orleans-inspiried cocktail at Counter Intuitive in Scottsdale.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

This one, by the way, is more of a First Sip.

Day-drinking be damned. Weekday drinking, too -- or so the story goes for the highly-anticipated cocktail concept from Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar owner Peter Kasperski, which is now open to the public as Counter Intuitive. Only awake from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the menu features cocktails from top-shelf Valley talents Micah Olsen and Jason Asher and will change themes every few months. First up: Infused bourbons and a Bourbon Street-infused menu with a back story: a New Orleans estate sale for the deceased, sadly fictitious Bartholomew Chesterfield Ignatius Sugarman.

We went to pay our condolences.

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A Cocktail Vocabulary Lesson for the Novice

Categories: Hooch

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Chow Bella
Resolve to figure out that whole cocktail thing.
We've been reading up on lists of new trends that are predicted to become popular in the coming year, and there was one in particular that seemed to come up again and again. No, not the one that suggests that bartenders begin garnishing their drinks with literal pine and juniper branches -- the one about being nice.

It seems that this year, the cocktail and mixology community at large wants to try to bring back kindness to their customers, and change from that caricature of the stuck-up jerk with a handlebar mustache who just can't believe that you can't recite all 43 ingredients in Licor 43.

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Sochu House in Metro Phoenix Offers Hundreds of Sake Choices. Here's a Little Background to Get You Ready

Categories: Hooch

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Chow Bella
The bar at Sochu House.
The average American experience with sake begins and ends at a Benihana or similar teppanyaki-style Japanese restaurant. It's usually served warm, in little ceramic carafe with matching shot glasses or it's set on top of chopsticks over a glass of some nameless Asian lager and shaken by an earthquake of drunken hands until it falls into the glass below to be quickly guzzled down as a quirky dinner game for college students having a "nice dinner out."

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3 Grapefruit Cocktails at Metro Phoenix Bars

Categories: Hooch

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Melanie MacEachern
Windsor, #4

Winter in Arizona means more than people wearing heavy down parkas in 50 degree weather, it also means citrus season. In yards all over town and in groves outside the city limits, grapefruit are nearing their peak size and weighing down branches.
Lots of people have their own thing that they do with these tart giants--bake it with brown sugar and a maraschino cherry!-- but three Valley bars have cocktails on their menus that truly celebrate the imminent arrival of the grapefruit.

Windsor, No. 4. ($9.50)
This drink is served in a short glass with one large ice cube in the middle. It's interesting that a grapefruit cocktail in it's color and size and shape could look so strikingly like the fruit of which it is primarily composed. New Amsterdam gin is always a great gin base for citrus cocktails, as it's not too floral or spicy like other gins and works well with bold flavors like bitter citrus. Cardamom syrup balances out the fresh, tart juice but doesn't negate the texture and aroma of Bitterman's Hopped Grapefruit Bitters, which are generously added to the cocktail. Rather than overpowering the whole cocktail, these bitters just add a hint more citrus rind flavor--and of course hops--and a truly lovely scent. Perhaps the cutest thing is that in the center of the large ice cube is a little slice of grapefruit, just as a garnish and to give the drink a little extra color.


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Chow Bella's Quick Holiday Guide to Sparkling Wine

Categories: Hooch

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Melanie MacEachern
Impress your friends -- bring real Champagne to the next holiday party.
Hey, did you know that Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France? If it's not, it's just called sparkling wine.

It is one of those painful truths that at every holiday party in which someone opens a bottle of festive bubbles, a guest must declare this "fun fact." This fact is no longer fun, now it is one of those cliche party facts that everyone knows -- like switching your car insurance to save 15 percent or more. But there is so much more to sparkling wine than that one little tidbit of Internet knowledge.

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Pomo Pizzeria's Matteo Schiavone Shares His Secret Limoncello Crema Recipe

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Complimentary shots and desserts at Pomo.
If you've ever stopped in for one at Matteo Schiavone's authentic Neapolitan pizzas at Pomo, you likely remember how your meal ended. Every customer (of legal drinking age, of course) is treated to a complimentary shot of Schiavone's handmade limoncello crema along with a side of fried chiacchiere or fried dough covered in powdered sugar. If that's not the picture of generosity in and of itself, Schiavone also gave us the recipe for his tasty, one-of-a-kind limoncello.

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Cowboy Ciao's Wildly Collaborative Cocktails Are Barely Legal

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
What happens when you take three bartenders and put them to work on one cocktail menu?
You'd think getting three different people with three different mixing styles and three different palates to work together to make one cocktail menu would be tricky. However, Mari Howe, Rich Furnari, and Kiefer Gilbert did just that for Cowboy Ciao's most recent menu -- and they say it was easy.

"The entire team sat down one night and tried our drinks and if they liked it, we put it on the menu," Howe says.

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Meet the 2014 Arizona Last Slinger Standing Bartending Team

Categories: Hooch

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Allie Marconi
How quickly can you make a well-balanced cocktail off the cuff?
The results of last month's Last Slinger Standing tryouts are in and the five competitors have been announced. It's no easy task to get in the finals, as each bartender had just five minutes to craft a well balanced and tasty cocktail using a random spirit base and liqueur of the judge's choosing and no more than three other ingredients. During Arizona Cocktail Week, the five finalists from Arizona will go head to head with teams from Nevada and Colorado until one bartender remains.

Here's who you'll be cheering on:

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Charlie Zeiler Mixes Up Fall Cocktails the Right Way at The Mix Up Bar

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
Charlie Zeiler stirs his Vieux Carré inspired Pear of Aces cocktail.
You won't find pumpkin spice syrup or any other artificial junk on Charlie Zeiler's new Mix Up Bar cocktails menu. The Royal Palms' bartender, instead, builds on classic recipes with new ingredients to make unique autumnal drinks. While discussing his new menu, Zeiler explains which ingredients he's using this fall, his dedication to the classics, and what it's like to work at a resort cocktail bar in the Valley.

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