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.

A visit to GenuWine Arizona, a self serve wine bar.

With all of the development in downtown Phoenix in recent years it’s hard to recognize it let alone keep track of the new business’s that have opened up. One of those business’s is GenuWine Arizona, a wine and beer bar on Roosevelt Row.  I recently found myself at GenuWine as owners Emily Rieve and Lindsey Schoenemann were finalizing plans to celebrate their first anniversary.

Emily and Lindsey are two mid-westerners who found themselves teaching together in Gilbert. They enjoyed working together on school lessons and wanted to share their passion to collaborate on something unique. The wine enthusiasts decided on a self-serve wine bar and GenuWine Arizona was born.

What’s going on at GenuWine Arizona

Focusing on mostly Arizona wines, beers and foods guests can make their way up to the wine wall for a taste, 1/2 glass or full glass of over 24 wines. I opted for 4 tastes of Arizona wines on my visit. Local craft beers are on tap and by the bottle if you’re in the mood for the suds.

The laid back atmosphere offers board games to play, couches and chairs to talk with friends and people watch along Roosevelt. A few seats at the bar allow for you to enjoy your drink while chatting with Emily and Lindsey when their not with their guests. If hungry you can build your own cheese board.

Weekly events include beer and tastings, unique classes(cheese making), live music and a comedy night. On First Friday’s you can usually count on a beer or wine tasting and food truck outside. Happy hour is Mon.-Fri. from 3-6 p.m. with $2 off full glasses of wine, draft beer and small plates.

GenuWine Arizona
Owners Emily and Lindsey

There’s plenty of room for private parties and a wine club is in the works.

For a calendar of events and lists of wine and beer they’re pouring visit their website.

GenuWine Arizona is at 888 N. 1st Ave. Suite 101 Phoenix 85003. 602-682-7494. Hours Mon. – Thurs. 3 – 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 1 -11 p.m and Sun. 1 -9 p.m.

 

Forget the ex at the Anti-Valentine’s Day party at Hula’s Modern Tiki

Looking to burn a picture of your ex or not feeling very romantic this Valentine’s Day you’re not alone. It is for that reason that Hula’s Modern Tiki in Phoenix and Scottsdale are throwing an Anti-Valentine’s Day party.

Anti-Valentine's Day
Black Heart Social Club Martini. All photos courtesy of Hula’s Modern Tiki

“Roses are red, violets are blue, no one hates Valentine’s Day more than, you! Except for us!” says Hula’s Modern Tiki owner, M. Dana Mule.

Singles and couples are welcome to Anti-Valentine’s Day party starting at 11 a.m. and going til closing. The “Black Hearts Social Club Martini” and the “You Drive Me Bananas” cocktails along with Pinot Gris Sangria will make you forget the ex.

After 6 p.m. enjoy $15 bottles of Prosecco and Rose and 1/2 off other bottles of wine.

Burn photos and memories of lover’s of the past in “Pele’s Fire Pit of Revenge” on the patio at their Phoenix restaurant.

Hula’s Modern Tiki is at 5114 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014 and 7213 E. 1st Ave. Scottsdale 85251.

Phoenix Public Market celebrates 14th anniversary of it’s Open Air Market

Farmer’s markets have become very popular around Phoenix the last few years. It’s hard to not to find a farmer’s market in each of the valley’s communities. One of the longest running farmer’s markets is the Open Air Market at The Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix. The Open Air Market happens every Saturday morning and on Saturday February 16th it will celebrate its 14th anniversary.

All photos courtesy of Phoenix Public Market

Drop by between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to find local vendors offering seasonal fresh produce, foods and healthy products. Many of the vendors have been there from the beginning.

For the celebration there will be live music, a special anniversary raffle, giveaways and more. Kids can have their face painted, participate in a scavenger hunt and make kids crafts.

Events include…

9 a.m. Native Seed/ SEARCH Workshop: Spring Gardening in the Desert. 10 a.m Yoga with Sutra Studios. 11 a.m. A cooking demonstration

The Open Air Market is a non-profit organization that creates a sense of community by supporting small farmers and business’s. They help strengthen the sustainable food systems and make healthy products available in the local community.

They’ve awarded vendor scholarships four times a year and work as a small business incubator. They’ve helped to support over a dozen local farms over the years.

The Market is at 721 N. Central Ave. (McKinley & Central) Phoenix 85004. For more information visit their website.

Sierra Bonita Grill goes back to its roots with new menus

Change is inevitable in restaurants, some changes follow food trends, decor, some are changes in a brand and customer service. Some changes come often with seasonal availability of ingredients. Some changes are years in the making  and that’s the case at Sierra Bonita Grill.

This is the restaurants first major menu change since 2011 and is about getting back to its roots and paying tribute to Sierra Bonita Ranch. The ranch down in Wilcox is Arizona’s oldest continuous family run ranch and where the restaurant got its name.

The popular central Phoenix restaurants menu is influenced by Southwestern and Mexican cuisine but owner Nate Hopper wanted more of a western influence.

Vegetable Noodles and Shrimp. All photos by Debbie Wolvos

“When I first learned about Sierra Bonita Ranch, I knew that I wanted Sierra Bonita Grill to honor our state’s ranching heritage. The updated menu now puts more emphasize on ‘out on the range’ cowboy-style cooking, while still integrating ingredients prominent in Mexican and Native American cuisine. We’re representing the old west, with a modern approach,” said Hopper.

“From the Ranch” at Sierra Bonita Grill

Longtime favorites Buttermilk Chicken, Grilled Fish & Carne Asada Tacos, Smoked Red or Green Chile Pork Roast and the SBG Signature Burger are staying along with others.

Guests will notice separate lunch and dinner menus with lighter options at lunch and heartier dishes at dinner. Included are more salads like the Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with grilled shrimp ($16) and The Bacon Wedge Salad ($16).

Other lighter menu additions include Vegetable and Noodle Shrimp ($28) and Avocado Toast ($10).

Sierra Bonita
Bacon Wedge salad.

The biggest change on the dinner menu is the “From The Ranch” section featuring steaks, chops and chicken. A few include a 14 oz. NY Strip ($38), an 18 oz. split bone-in Ribeye ($42), a 10 oz. bone-in Pork Chop (24) and half roasted chicken ($27). Entrees come served with a choice of side dish and homemade sauce.

Side dishes include a baked potato, seasonal vegetables, green chile mac ‘n’ cheese or green chile scalloped potatoes. Choose a sauce from a selection of horseradish cream, roasted tomatillo, roasted guajillo chile au jus, and chimichurri.

Sierra Bonita Grill is at 6933 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, Ariz., 85014. 602-264-0700 To see their new menus check out their website.

 

Scoopwell’s Dough Bar’s grand opening offers FREE dough for a year

After finding loyal fans for their cookie dough Scoopwell’s Dough Bar is opening Saturday January 12th at Phoenix’s Uptown Plaza. Kendra and John Scheer started Scoopwell’s Dough Bar in early 2018 as a pop-up at Tempe Public Market Cafe. The pop-up was a success selling out and the husband and wife team decided to open a permanent store front.

All photos courtesy of Awe Collective

“We can’t wait to open in Uptown Plaza,” said Kendra Scheer. “Whether you checked us out earlier this year, or you’ve never tried edible cookie dough before, we promise to save you something sweet.”

Scoopwells’ offer 11 different dough flavors and even more sweet toppings. Gourmet flavors include Lemon Poppyseed, Brownie Batter and Rainbow Sprinkle are made from scratch. Delicious seasonal flavors and other year round favorites will be served. Mix-in Twix bars, peanut butter chips, pretzels and others for even more enjoyment.

When the doors open at 10:00 a.m. sharp the first 50 people in line will get Free Dough For A Year. The punch card they receive will be good for 1 small cup of dough a month. If you’re not one of the first 50, you’ll receive a free collectible gift and entered to win an Uptown Plaza gift bag.

For an even sweeter deal Scoopwell’s will be handing out gifts and giveaways all weekend long.

Find Scoopwell’s at 100 E. Camelback Rd #164 Phoenix 85012.

 

Huss Brewing’s CenPho Citrus IPA brewed with locally donated fruit

Huss Brewing Co. is accepting locally grown citrus for their up-coming seasonal bottling, CenPho Citrus IPA. Central Phoenix (CenPho) residents are invited to drop off citrus from their trees in exchange for two pints of the new beer when released. Drop off your citrus by January 14th 2019 at Huss’s Taproom in Uptown Plaza.

Huss employees will be accepting donations and giving certificates until enough citrus is collected for brewing.

CenPho Citrus IPA

The beer will make it’s debut on Feb. 9th at the Arizona Strong Beer Festival then around central Phoenix. Those that donated citrus and received a certificate can cash in for 2 pints on Feb. 16th at Huss’s Citrus Festival at the Uptown Taproom.

The craft beer will be poured at local hangouts and community events around central Phoenix including.

2/9 – AZ Strong Beer Festival

2/10 – Willo Neighborhood Home Tour Beer Garden

2/11 – AZ Beer Week (variety of CenPho bars, restaurants and neighborhood stores)

2/16 – Citrus Fest at Huss Brewing Co. Taproom at Uptown Plaza

2/24 – Coronado Neighborhood Home Tour Beer Garden

3/2 – Melrose Neighborhood M7 Street Festival (inside the Huss Brewing Co. Beer Garden)

Central Phoenix citrus

The beer is celebrating Huss Brewing and central Phoenix State Rep. Laura Pastor helping to create Arizona’s first experimental citrus trees. Imported from California the trees are planted on the Orangewood estate of William J. Murphy at 7514 N. Central Ave. Murphy built the Arizona Canal and founded numerous Phoenix and Glendale neighborhoods.

“We love to incorporate as many local ingredients as possible, and citrus is such a great flavor for a fresh seasonal beer,” says Leah Huss, who owns Huss Brewing Co. with her husband Jeff. “So as soon as we met Councilwoman Pastor and heard about the deep citrus roots in the historic neighborhoods surrounding our Uptown Taproom, we knew this was the perfect way to, literally, share a beer with our neighbors.”

Visit their website for more information and drop off citrus at 100 E. Camelback Rd.

 

 

 

 

Mora Italian ends 2018 with 4 course menu on New Year’s Eve

As Phoenix restaurants fill up with New Year’s Eve reservations diners decide where to dine for a final meal of 2018. Mora Italian offers a 4 course prie fixe menu starting at 4 p.m. The Italian influenced menu offers guests a wide range of flavors from Chef Scott Conant and his culinary team. This will be the only dining option at Mora on NYE.

The modern Italian menu is as follows….

First (choice of)

Radicchio & Endives- blood orange, pignoli, black olives

Porcini & Artichoke Soup- fontina crema, truffle focaccia

Seacat Gardens Little Gem- black truffle & parmesan dressing, anchovy crumble

Second (choice of)

Pasta Pomodoro

Foie Gras Gnudi- masala reduction, crispy duck

Rigatoni Nero- king crab, squid bolognese, bottarga breadcrumbs

Third (choice of)

Beef Shortrib Daube- chestnut zuppa, celery root, parmesan

Roasted Turbot- hazelnuts, capers, tomato, brown butter

Pumpkin Parmesan- black truffle fonduta, frisée, pickled fennel

Dolce (choice of)

Budino- white chocolate, peppermint

Chocolate Torte- pickled blackberry compote, mascarpone gelato

Blackberry Sorbet- saba, basil Genovese

The multi course dinner is $65 per person with an optional wine pairing for an additional $25.

For more information and to make a reservation please got to their website.

Mora Italian is at 5651 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014 (602)795-9943

 

FREE food as Thai Chili 2 Go opens its first Phoenix location

Local fast casual Thai Chili 2 Go is off to a quick start in the new year as they race to open their first of several Phoenix restaurants Jan. 5th 2019. It’s the seventh location for the popular restaurant and will open at 2750 W. Dove Valley Rd. Phoenix Suite 180.

For the grand opening on the 5th, the first 100 people will get a FREE entree and dumplings. Drunken Noodles, Pad Thai and Red Curry are popular dishes to choose from.

“It’s been a great pleasure to watch the success of our East Valley locations, and now we’re recognizing and answering the demand for traditional and delicious Thai food in the north valley market as well,” says Owner Akshat Sethi. “We began our expansion into this area with our Scottsdale location in the Promenade and are thrilled to see that this market continues to support the need for more Thai Chili 2 Go locations.”

Through Jan. 31st guests get a FREE dumpling appetizer with entrée purchase and get 2nd entrée at 50% off. All locations are open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Thai Chili 2 Go offers dine-in, to-go, delivery via UberEats, DoorDash, GrubHub. Find a location near you and orders can be placed here.

 

Switchback Ridge Winery dinner at The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s

Phoenix restaurants are running around crazy the next 10 days with the holiday rush in 5th gear. After 2019 begins restaurateurs and staff take a needed breather it will be back to serving hungry visitors and locals. The Market + Bar at Jennifer’s jumps back into it on January 9th with a wine dinner with Switchback Ridge Winery.

The four-course dinner will be paired with a unique menu from chef Jennifer Russo and wines made by legendary Napa Valley winemaker Bob Foley. Founder Kelly Peterson will be flying in from Calistoga to co-host the dinner and speak about the wines.

Switchback Ridge sources all the grapes for their wines from the families Peterson Family Vineyard run by Kelly’s mom and dad, John & Joyce Peterson. The winery makes 3 red wines with a small production of less than 3,000 cases.

Switchback Ridge Winery pairing menu

The big & bold red wines require a bold menu and it is as follows……

Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Grilled Prawns with Bottarga Risotto

Giant prawns seasoned with flakey salt and Gilroy garlic brushed with extra virgin olive oil lightly grilled until color bursts creamy Italian arborio risotto with vanilla bean backnotes served with grated Mediterranean bottarga lime and lemon zest

 

Switchback Ridge Merlot 2014

Roasted Breast of Duck with Hoisin

Breast of duck, seared to mid-rare with a hoisin glaze Yukon gold potato gratin, braised Belgian endive and fresh mint leaves

 

Switchback Ridge Cabernet 2014

Bing cherry Demi-Glace over Lamb Loin

Boneless Colorado rack of lamb roasted to a warm mid-rare served with a bing cherry demi-glace and tender cooked bulgur wheat and snipped fresh watercress

 

Side by Side

Switchback Ridge Petite Syrah 2015 & Switchback Ridge Vintage Petite Syrah

Deconstructed Bleu Cheese Cheesecake

Honey black pepper macerated blackberries layered with bleu cheese cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust

 

The dinner is $95 per person at starts at 6:30 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling (602)626-5050.

The Market + Bar by Jennifer’s is at 3603 E. Indian School. Rd Phoenix 85018.