Little Rituals opens and it’s not your traditional hotel bar

When Little Rituals opened last week in downtown Phoenix it raised the bar for other hotel bars. Located on the 4th floor of the Courtyard by Marriott/Residence Inn the cocktail bar is the mastermind of mixologists Aaron Defeo and Ross Simon. DeFeo is no stranger to hotel bars as he was property mixologist at Tucson’s Casino del Sol Resort. Simon is the owner of downtown’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.

Little rituals owners Aaron DeFeo & Ross Simon. All photos courtesy of Little Rituals

The bar joins Broken Shaker ( Miami, L.A., Chicago & NYC) and Death Co. (NYC & Denver)  to offer guests and locals a unique hotel bar experience. Open daily from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. guests can expect 30 custom cocktails along with beer, wine and gourmet bites from consulting chef Bob Tam. Interesting touches at the independently owned bar include hand stamped ice, espresso martinis on tap and a pairing menu.

Preparation and education is key

What you don’t see is as important as what you see and sip on. DeFeo and Simon have created a culture of extensive staff training and drink preparation. Cocktails are made with house-made foams, infusions, garnishes, syrups and more. The menu focuses on the use of aromatic vermouth’s and sherry’s.

The cocktails are in 6 categories with 5 cocktails each.

  • Daily Rituals (Boilermakers, Siroco Spritz and a precisely-chilled, grapefruit-finished Session Martini)
  • Delicious Rituals (exciting flavor combinations such as the honey, citrus and curry-spiced Daiqurry)
  • Cooling Rituals (heat-busting combos such as the frothy Amalfi Frappe or the cucumber-y Touch of Evil)
  • Stirred & Silky Rituals (elegant twists on classics such as the sherry-spiked Cask of Amontillado)
  • Indulgent Rituals (complex flavors such as the Cartographer with overproof rum, cardamom and creole bitters)
  • Shared Rituals (ever-changing selection of punches, pitchers and the aforementioned Bubbles & Fries)

Apertivo hour is from 4-6 p.m. daily and offers discounted prices on a rotating list of cocktails, beer, wine and bites.

The bar bites menu offers 10 dishes including Beet Carpacio, Millionaire’s Bacon Board and Carbonara Lo Mein from the Hong Kong born chef Tam. Make sure you save room for the High Spirited Desserts.

The hotel is at 132 S. Central Ave. Phoenix 85004. 602-603-2050. Visit the website and their Facebook page for more information.

Tinderbox Kitchen creates a desirable New Year’s Eve pairing menu

Flagstaff’s Tinderbox Kitchen wants the last meal of 2018 to be a memorable one. Chef Mike Schmitz three-course meal and dessert gives revelers much to think about choosing from course to course. The seasonally focused prix-fixe menu offers 4 dishes to choose from on courses 1 and 2 and six protein focused entrees.

A favorite dish is the pate Schmitz learned to make when working with Chef Jessica from Big Grove. “From start to finish it’s a beautiful dish both in its complete form and in the process,” which Chef describes as a two day process, breaking down the whole duck and using it across the menu and marinating the liver for the pate. He says it’s a joy to make and consume.

The menu is vegan friendly with Schmitz recommends the Fig & Brie Bruschetta and the Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto. He considers the risotto the “dark horse” of the menu.

NYE menu at Tinderbox Kitchen

Each dish offers a suggested pairing of an optional glass of wine or classic cocktail. The menu is as follows.

COURSE ONE
Lobster Bisque
tomato, saffron, sherry
French 75 or 2015 Pouilly Fuissé

Butternut Squash Soup
apple, maple, sage, nutmeg
Old Fashioned or 2015 Pinot Noir

Pear and Pomegranate Salad
baby greens, brie, candied pecans
Regina George or 2015 Cinsaut

Beet and Citrus Salad
baby greens, fennel, goat cheese, pistachio
Turmeric Tonic or 2015 Grenache Blanc

COURSE TWO
Fig and Brie Bruschetta
hazelnuts, vanilla bean, orange
Spiced Grapefruit Negroni or Sparkling Rosé

Duck Liver Paté
port geleé, red onion marmalade, grilled bread
Ruby Manhattan or 2016 Malbec

Sea Scallops
parsnip puree, baby carrot, brussels’ sprouts
Turmeric Tonic or 2017 Riesling

Blue Point Oysters in Shell
shallot, cracked pepper, red wine vinegar
Hummingbird or Sparkling Brut

COURSE THREE
 Roasted Duck Breast
orzo, butternut squash, pomegranate, elderberry molasses, pecan
San Francisco Street or 2015 Red Blend

Lobster Tail
angel hair pasta, sun-dried tomato cream, lemon, parsley
White Negroni or Pouilly Fuissé

Filet Mignon
roasted garlic mashers, blistered green beans, mushroom demi-glace
Black Manhattan or 2014 Syrah

Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto
parmesan, garlic, thyme, poached egg
The Old Man & The Sea or 2015 Pinot Noir

Rack of Lamb
smashed yukon potatoes, broccolini, red wine demi-glace
Barrel Aged Vieux Carre or 2015 Merlot

Grilled Swordfish
roasted garlic mashers, braised rainbow chard, tomato saffron broth, crispy leek
Vesper Martini or 2014 Chardonnay

DESSERT COURSE
Double Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake
oreo cookie crust, raspberries, chocolate sauce
Don Ciccio or 2014 Dessert Wine

White Chocolate Mousse
caramel apple compote, pomegranate
White Russian or 2010 White Riesling

The dinner is $85 per person ++ and wine and cocktail pairings are additional.

To make your reservation call 928-226-8400 or go to their website.

Tinderbox Kitchen is at 3 S. san francisco St. Flagstaff AZ. 86001

Scottsdale’s BLK Live offers a new upscale Social Hour menu

Scottsdale’s live entertainment venue and restaurant BLK Live has introduced a new Social Hour menu in time for the holidays. Friends and co-workers looking to celebrate can enjoy upscale comfort food, cocktails, beer and wine at special pricing.

The best part is the upscale happy hour is available twice a day Thursday – Sunday from 4 – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. – close. Guests can enjoy Kobe meatballs, bourbon-glazed seared pork belly and crunchy coconut shrimp with mango chutney. Creative signature cocktails are offered at a reduced price along with $4 domestic drafts, well drinks and house wines are poured with $5 imported and craft beers.

BLK Live is at 7301 E. Butherus Dr. Scottsdale 85260. For more information visit their website.

High quality and affordable steakhouse coming to Carefree

December is a busy month so you’ll want to keep a day open as Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse will be opening in Carefree. It will be the newest concept from the Keeler Hospitality Group who owns the Liberty Station Tavern and Smokehouse in DC Ranch and north Scottsdale. You won’t find the stuffy pretentious steakhouse vibe yet a more social house atmosphere.

“We are extremely elated about the introduction of this new concept and are looking forward to providing it to the diners of Carefree and to our city’s visitors from near and far,” says Paul Keeler, president and CEO of Keeler Hospitality Group. “Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse will satisfy the need for a high-value, top-of-the line steakhouse dining experience in Carefree while also staying true to the approachable and comfortable atmosphere the surrounding community.”

Steakhouse
Photos courtesy of Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse

A steakhouse menu in Carefree

Keeler Hospitality Group Executive Chef Anthony Apolinar will lead the culinary team. Apolinar knows his meat as he’s been working at both Liberty Station locations.

The menu at Keeler’s will feature specialty cuts of Certified Angus Beef, fresh seafood, chicken and classic American comfort food.

Diners will enjoy sharable “For the Table” starters Lobster Mac & Cheese, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Cakes, Mussels and more. Steakhouse staples French Onion Soup and bisque’s along with Caesar, Wedge, Cobb and Mixed Greens salads will be offered.

“Neighborhood Favorites” entrees include Double Bone-In Pork Chops, seared Lamb Loin Chops and Braised Short Ribs. Specialty sides will complement your main dish including Blue Cheese Cream Spinach, White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Risotto and loaded hash browns.

Classic cocktails, Arizona beers and a well-balanced selection of wine by the bottle and the glass will be available.

Social house atmosphere in Carefree

A high-end comfortable atmosphere will welcome guests with several seating area offering a neighborhood feel. An island bar will attract guests to the open kitchen and outdoor dining will be available on the patio or rooftop deck.

Guests can enjoy lunch or dinner at Keeler’s Mon. – Sat. from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Dinner from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs and til 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. Happy Hour will be available daily from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and brunch Sun. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse will be at 7212 Ho Hum Rd. Carefree 85377.

 

Mountain Shadows offers Wine, Spirits & Beer seminars

Your never to old to learn about wine, beer and spirits and the staff at Mountain Shadows resort and Hearth ’61 teaches us about all three. The Paradise Valley resort is offering an every other week seminar about wine, spirits and beer called Spirited Sipping Seminars. The 30-45 minute seminar is taught by resort Food & Beverage director Jim Gallen and bartender Travis. Guests will taste each of the three beverages discussed and be able to ask questions.

As the wine, spirits and beer world continue evolve learning the history, making of and trends of cocktails, wine and beer becomes more interesting. During the cocktail seminars you will learn how to make cocktails and receive the recipes.

Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mountain Shadows

Wine, Beer & Spirits seminar schedule

Saturday afternoon classes start at 3 p.m. and are $30 per class. The following classes are scheduled through December.

Oct. 20- Brews & (Taste) Buds. USA vs Europe.

Nov. 3- Craft of the Cocktail Gin: The Misunderstood Spirit

Nov. 17- Weekend Wine Sessions Wine for Thanksgiving

Dec. 1- Craft of the Cocktail Holiday Cocktails

Dec. 15- Brews & (Taste) Buds- Ales vs Lagers: Finding your style

Dec. 29- Weekend Wine Sessions A Bit of Bubbly USA vs France

La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval emerges with a new look and menu

Plenty of Mexican food can be found around Phoenix but not many fine dining Mexican food options. One of the best is La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess which offers a new look and menu. One of the things that has not changed is the history and heritage of the restaurant.

According to General Manager Jack Miller, “The leadership at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is committed to making sure the heritage and history of this local dining landmark is honored while bringing the design and menu forward. We are determined to make sure La Hacienda continues to be the top ranked Mexican restaurant in Arizona for another generation.”

The new Short Rib Barbacoa. All photos courtesy of The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Authentic dishes at La Hacienda

Influencing the menu comes when chef Richard Sandoval and chef Forest Hamrick visit their families and new restaurants in Mexico. Popular dishes including Lobster Tacos, Filet a la Parilla and table side guacamole returned when La Hacienda re-opened in late September. New dishes include Short Rib Barbacoa and Pescado Zarandeado, a barbecued Sea Bass with charred aioli, heirloom tomato and avocado.

Make sure you try the trio of Sweet Corn Tamales, the sweet spicy mole is “lick the plate” worthy.

Another new attraction are the 21 new specialty cocktails that have been introduced. All use less than four ingredients to highlight a specific flavor. “Smoked Cocktails” highlight the new cocktail menu that use Mezcal to give it the smoky flavor. La Hacienda features over 150 tequilas and a growing selection of Mezcal all picked by Tequila Goddess Katie Schnurr.

Black Currant Margarita

A new look and expansion

The exciting new menu is compliments the new look of La Hacienda created by Judith Testani. Testani is a local designer with her own firm, Testani Design. Testani says “The goal for the re-design of La Hacienda was to align the interior of the restaurant with the sophisticated palette of the chef and menu.”

The Bar at La Hacienda

An expanded lounge and bar allows guests to gather and offer communal dining at high top tables. Tequila bottles are on the new display shelf across from the agave wall crafted by a local artist.

Large light fixtures drop from the ceiling are new as is furniture and accessories from Mexico. Guests will notice light-colored stucco walls, detailed blacked steel and renovated restrooms.

Guest can dine at La Hacienda daily at 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. and 10 p.m. on Fri. & Sat. To view the menu and more information view their website.

 

TEXAZ Grill serves up its annual Texas State Fair Fare

TEXAZ Grill owner Steve Freidkin has been serving food in Arizona for over 30 years but he’s loyal to his home state of Texas. So much so he serves up Lone Star State favorites year round at his restaurant known for Chicken Fried Steak. Once a year he adds to the menu dishes made famous at the Texas State Fair. Guests can enjoy this years Texas State Fair Fare menu daily from September 28- October 21st.

This year’s dishes include a cocktail and 2 fair favorites both with a little history lesson of their origins.

“Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dog” ($6)

As perfected by vaudevillians Neil and Carl Fletcher of Dallas, TX, “Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dog” has been a State Fair of Texas staple since 1942. Two Corny Dogs served with a bag of Frito’s.

Frito Pie ($5.50)

Said to be invented in the 1930’s by Daisy Dean Doolin, mother of the founder of the Frito-Lay Company, this dish is a Texas original. TEXAZ Grill’s version features its homemade chili presented in a small bag of Fritos corn chips, topped with onions, cheese and served with a plastic spoon-now that’s authentic!

Cotton Candy Lemonade ($7)

Everyone’s favorite spun sugar in liquid form! The cocktail is made with cotton candy vodka, lemonade, Blue Curacao and garnished with a lemon slice. For the adults who are kids at heart!

TEXAZ Grill is at 6003 N. 16th St. Phoenix AZ. 85016. 602-248-7287. http://www.texazgrill.com/

 

 

The Gladly celebrates its 5th anniversary with $1 chopped salad

Phoenix restaurant The Gladly celebrates its 5th anniversary and will offer fans 5 days of food and drink specials to celebrate. Kicking off Monday September 10th guests will be able to enjoy the popular Chopped Salad for $1 followed by these special below.

chopped salad
The Chopped Salad. Photo courtesy of The Gladly.

Monday, Sept. 10 – Enjoy $1 Original Chopped Salads (dine-in only; dinner service only; limit one per table).

Tuesday, Sept. 11 – Enjoy 50-percent off all draft cocktails including The Gladly Manhattan, Moscow Mule, Spiced Daiquiri, Penicillin, Thai Margarita and Aperol Spritz.

Wednesday, Sept. 12 – Enjoy $1 oysters during happy hour and dinner service.

Thursday, Sept. 13 – Enjoy $10 bottles of rosé.

Friday, Sept. 14 – Enjoy a special, signature dish from The Gladly’s Scottsdale sister restaurant, Citizen Public House, for one night only.

If you can’t make in during the week, stop in anytime during the month for a celebratory cocktail for only $5 created just for the anniversary.

“This is our way of saying thanks to the community, and to those who came through our doors over the last five years,” said co-owner Andrew Fritz. “We can’t wait for you to see what’s in store for the future.”

The Gladly is at The Anchor Centre at 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85016. https://www.thegladly.com/

RnR re-opens today after 7 week rejuvenation with Grand Opening Party

Old town Scottsdale’s RnR restaurant is back starting today at 5p.m. after 7 weeks of refreshing and renovating. A Grand Opening party is tonight with a 1 cent hosted bar from 5-7 p.m., extended Happy Hour from 7-11 p.m. and 20% all food from 5-11 p.m.

Grand opening

New food menus of scratch made comfort classics will make their debut with new salads, sandwiches and old favorites. The popular weekend brunch returns Saturday’s & Sunday’s from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

A new Happy Hour menu with 10 items at $6 will is available Monday- Friday from 3 – 6 p.m. along with new weekly specials.

Exciting new cocktails were created including the Absolut Mega Mule that is 128 oz. and needs a minimum of 4 people to order. For weekend brunch guests can enjoy a new Mimosa Tower and Mimosa flights of guava, cranberry, orange and pineapple.

rnr

As part of the renovation new giant LED TVs were installed and are visible from any seat in the restaurant. A new 36 seat island bar is situated from the inside to the patio with new roll-up glass garage doors. New booths were added to the upstairs balcony for a view of Scottsdale Rd. great for people watching.

RnR is at 3737 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85251. 480-945-3353 https://www.rnrscottsdale.com/

Across the Pond to take over space vacated by Central Wine

The owners of Clever Koi and soon to open Fellow Osteria wasted no time when neighbor Central Wine closed to start working on cocktail bar Across the Pond. Slated to open in the fall Across the Pond will be an intimate cocktail bar that features 10 unique custom cocktails, Japanese whiskey, craft beers and wine.

Partners Nicholas Campisano and Joshua James have the designed space to give the bar a  “tropical mid-century modern” look.

“We’ve been looking to add a cocktail bar to the B&R portfolio for a while now, and had been looking all over the Melrose district,” James says, “But we always kept an eye on the Central Wine space. So when the previous tenant’s lease came up, it worked out great for both parties.”

Across the Pond bites and drinks menu

Traditional Japanese sushi (no rolls), bar bites and omakase a.k.a. “chef’s choice” dishes will be served from Clever Koi. The three types of fish used for sushi and omakase  will be sourced from local fish monger Chula Seafood.

James will create a cocktail menu with handcrafted selections that will emphasis Japanese whiskey and served in traditional highball style.

The name, James emphasizes Across The Pond is not a British-style pub, but a casual cocktail bar with Asian accents. “‘The Pond’ was always our nickname for Clever Koi on Central, so it was obvious to name it, Across The Pond.”

The 35 seat bar will be open Wednesday – Saturday from 4:00 p.m. til midnight. Across the Pond is at 4236 N. Central Ave. Phoenix 85012.