Bitter & Twisted and Aioli Gourmet Burgers partner for new in-house menu

Downtown Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour has joined forces with the award-winning Aioli Gourmet Burgers for a new menu to pair with their cocktail program. The newly re-vamped menu was created by Aioli’s Executive Chef Vicktor Velez.

“Bitter & Twisted has always been committed to innovation and constant evolution with the ultimate goal of providing a world-class cocktail lounge experience here in Phoenix. With their food truck roots and success now as top flight restaurateurs, I knew Tom and Kyle were the perfect partners for the B&T kitchen, and Chef Vicktor has created some amazing new dishes and flavors,” says proprietor Ross Simon, who also notes that B&T founding chef, Bob Tam, remains a partner at B&T, while also having more “freedom and opportunities to concentrate on his other businesses and partner projects.”

New dishes at Bitter & Twisted

Chef Velez’s new menu is inspired by his travels through Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines while still keeping with Aioli’s co-owners Tommy D’Ambrosio and Kyle Hollenbeck vision of sourcing fresh, seasonal & local ingredients. Guests to Bitter & Twisted can enjoy dishes such as Togarashi Tuna Tataki, one of Velez’s favorites on the new menu, along with Korean French Fries, Korean Loaded Nachos, Truffled Mac & Cheese and of course an Aioli burger.

“It’s a huge honor for us to have this opportunity to partner with Ross at Bitter & Twisted. I’m proud to see Chef Vicktor’s growth and development in this role as he continues to create new and innovative dishes,” said Tom D’Ambrosio, Owner/Chef of Aioli Gourmet.

The award-winning cocktail bar has also updated their hours of service from Tuesday through Thursday (4 – 11pm food served till 10pm) and Friday and Saturday (4pm – 1am food served till 10pm), with Happy Hour served Tuesday through Friday (4 – 6 pm). Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour is located at 1 W. Jefferson St. (Jefferson & Central) Phoenix. For information check their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Platform 18 at Century Grand on 50 Best Discovery list

The Arcadia Lite cocktail bar made the prestigious list and it’s the first time an Arizona restaurant or bar has made the list. The list is compiled by 50 Best and is an extension of the global list of 50 best bars & restaurants. Global experts approve the restaurants and bars around the world with 2,000 establishments making their original list before cutting it down to the final 50. Restaurants don’t apply for consideration but qualify from receiving a significant amount of votes from current round of polling. Downtown Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour also made the list.

Sphinx Date Ranch Co. celebrates 70th anniversary

The downtown Scottsdale retailer of locally made foods, wines & more is celebrating with special items, discounts and Mayor David Ortega proclaiming September 16th – 18th as “Sphinx Date Co. Days”. Guests can get 20% off orders of $20 or more when using promo code 1951, the year it opened. The discount goes until September 23rd and special 20th anniversary merchandise will help raise money for the Scottsdale Historical Society. For more information visit their website.

Pedal Haus Brewery release Oktoberfest beer and menu

The downtown Tempe & Chandler brewpub today release their seasonal beer and food menu. Beer brats, pork schnitzel and more are on the menu with the Tempe location also serving a special Flammkuchen pizza. An Oktoberfest celebration is scheduled for October 2nd in Chandler.

Match Market & Bar offer wine class & agave pairing dinner

Wednesday September 15th you can learn about wines from Southern Italy & Sicily while tasting the wines of the region. The downtown Phoenix tasting starts at 7 p.m. and is $25 per person and includes tasting note & pairings, light bites and wine samples. Wines tasted that night can be purchased by the bottle at 15% off.

The 4 -course agave pairing dinner takes place on Friday September 17th from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. The chef crafted menu will complement the different types of agave. Cost is $109++ per person and includes a welcoming Corralejo Reposado at arrival.

Caracara Restaurant delays opening til January 2022

The signature restaurant at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel has delayed the opening until 2022. The restaurant was expected to open this month but with Delta variant of Covid-19 on the rise management opted for the safety and health of employees & guests. Check back for updates and to see what you can expect read my post from July.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Downtown Tempe Brunch Stroll Saturday 6/19

Tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. visit up to 14 local restaurants for specially made bites and drinks. Purchase a $5 pass and check-in at the kiosk then stroll at your own pace as you check out the Mill Ave. and downtown Tempe food scene.

Stick around for the first Park After Dark of the season at the 6th Street Park. Pedal Haus Brewery will be on-site with a beer & wine garden and take-out food is welcome. Live music, spoken word by Sean Avery and more theatrics kick off the season from 7-10 p.m. every Saturday until September 11th.

Spirit House celebrates 2 years with ice cream truck inspired cocktails

The downtown Chandler cocktail bar has created several cool & refreshing beverages reminiscent of the ice cream trucks of our youth. From June 22nd – 27th stop in and enjoy favorites such as the Bomb Pop, Snow Cone, Dream Bar and my favorite Strawberry shortcake to name just a few.

Enjoy rosé all summer at FRANCINE

Throughout the summer the south of France inspired restaurant offers guests the chance to cool off with a glass or bottle of the refreshing and food friendly pink wine. During weekend brunch (10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) and happy hour (3 – 6 p.m.) enjoy a glass for $8 or a bottle for $30.

$1 smoothies all day at Tropical Smoothie Cafe

All valley locations are celebrating National Smoothie Day on Monday June 21st for only $1 to members of their loyalty club. Those who sign up for the program on the 21st will receive an extra $1 sign up offer. Add ins and supplements are extra and $1 smoothies only available on the 21st.

Phoenix restaurant community celebrates Father’s Day

This Sunday June 20th is Father’s Day and with so many restaurants offering dad specials I’m pretty sure his favorite restaurant will make sure he enjoys his day with discounts or a free meal.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Chef Aaron May hosts celebrity chef friends for Big Boy Cook Club launch

More than a dozen chefs from around the country will be making their way to Phoenix to launch the first Big Boy Cook Club event. Get your tickets now for the Sunday April 25th event at central Phoenix’s Ocotillo Restaurant. Chef Aaron May will be hosting the party that will limit attendance to adhere to CDC guidelines.

“Big Boy Cook Club is a brand I have been developing for years, and what better place to launch it, than with a fun, casual food event in my own hometown” says Chef Aaron May. The Big Boy Cook Club brand is about the sincere about cooking and taste for food enthusiasts, not foodies and the camera.

Celebrity chefs cooking up delicious, no always photo friendly eats include Aron Sanchez, Todd English, Elsie Eats, Akira Back and Ocotillo’s own Walt Sterling. Jacob Cutino of locally owned Cutino Sauces will announce details of his new monthly “throw back” sauce event. He’ll also be working with each chef helping to pair his sauces with each chef’s dish.

Local mixologist Casey Wallin will be mixing up creative cocktails for the event with beer and wine available as well. DJ for the Miami Heat and surprise guests will be spinning the tunes to keep the crowd moving. A cigar roller, photo booth and spirit sampling will be just a few of the additional activities happening during the 5 hour event. Operation BBQ Relief will be the benefactor of money raised during the event.

The party goes from 2 – 7 p.m. with tickets on sale now at Eventbrite. Tickets are $100 with VIP tickets $200 and the Big Boy Package for $1,000. Ocotillo Restaurant is at 3243 N. 3rd St. Phoenix 85012.

 

 

 

Undertow goes above ground with pop-up in Scottsdale

The popular and award-winning cocktail bar Undertow has taken its below ground concept to street level with a pop-up at the Hotel Valley Ho. From August of 2016 to December 2020 was housed below Sip Coffee & Beer Garage in Phoenix, a converted quick oil change business. With Covid-19 taking over 2020 owners Rich Furnari and Jason Asher decided to move Undertow next door to its Century Grand location.

In addition to the new Undertow, Century Grand will be adding new concepts Platform 18 and The Grey Hen Rx with construction ending in March. Until then Undertow has taken over the former Trader Vic’s restaurant at the Scottsdale hotel for a 4-day a week “Best of Menus Past” pop-up.

“UnderTow has a strong following, and we always wanted to have a little more space to accommodate additional guests and larger parties, all without compromising the intimate guest experience” says Furnari. With UnderTow’s lease ending in 2020, and our difficult decision to permanently close the restaurant element of Century Grand, there was a prime opportunity to re-locate UnderTow into a larger space in the same geographic neighborhood. In addition, the more flexible physical infrastructure in the new location will allow us to continue to offer our guests the most advanced and enjoyable immersive environment for years to come”.

The two have worked day and night with Hotel Valley Ho’s Food and Beverage Director Andre Nicholson to bridge the gap until construction ends in Phoenix. Housed in the Sands venue at the hotel, the pop-up will be open Thursday through Sunday serving many retired top-selling signature cocktails. Limited food will be served from local chefs who will rotate their own pop- up restaurant. A Sunday market could also be added once things are up and running and the tiki/tropical decor from local artists gives Undertow its laid back vibe.

Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251 and you can find more information about the pop-up at their website.

Peter Kasperski returns to the valley’s dining scene with Character

2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.

Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.

Photo courtesy of Modern Vision Media

Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.

The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.

Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Z’Tejas launches seasonal menu

The Chandler and Phoenix locations debut a new Winter menu on Monday December 28th. Chipolte Short Ribs, Posole and Grits & Lobster are just a few of the new dishes that use traditional Mexican and Southwestern ingredients. Two new specialty drinks have also been added to keep you warm.

Holiday gifts still available from Garden Bar

Cocktail kits and grazing boxes are available for your favorite foodie or mixologist. Perfect for staying at home and enjoying the holiday’s cocktails kits from mixologist Kim Haasarud include ingredients and a how-to video.

Gabriella’s launches weekend brunch

The Scottsdale restaurant that opened earlier this year now offers brunch on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. From 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. guests can enjoy such dishes as a Crab & Lobster Benedict, Gabriella’s Chicken Hash and Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes with Berries. Enjoy those and more with Bottomless Mimosa’s for $18.

Barro’s Pizza raises money for St. Mary’s Food Bank

The locally owned pizza restaurants bested 2019’s donations by over $50,000. Through the 2020 Doran Barro Holiday Hunger Fight over $335,000 was raised at the families 44 locations in Phoenix and Tucson on December 1st when all sales where donated to the food bank.

Kasai Japanese Steakhouse donating to Arizona Children’s Association.

Through Christmas Eve a $1 from each teppan meal will be donated to Arizona’s oldest and largest foster care organization. Also every Tuesday and Wednesday in December the Scottsdale restaurant has been hosting foster family’s for dinner.

 

 

Christiaan Rollich & chef Samantha Sanz join Sanctuary on Camelback

Paradise Valley’s Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa added two reputable personnel to their food & beverage team Executive Chef Beau MacMillan announced. Chef de Cuisine Samantha Sanz returns to where her culinary career started as one of the first female chefs. Mixoligist and author Christiaan Rollich comes to the luxury resort from the Los Angeles restaurant and cocktail scene.

“Sam and Christiaan represent the next generation of tastemakers and the perfect team to move our culinary program forward,” said MacMillan. “Both have built impressive careers through sheer grit and passion. Both are at the top of their game. And they share a deep respect for each other’s craft that will drive their collaboration as they create a full-circle experience between kitchen and bar for our guests.”

Two-time James Beard award nominee Sanz was last the Sous Chef at Talavera Restaurant at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. After graduating from Scottsdale’s Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts she worked at Elements where she impressed MacMillan with her talent, passion and culinary prowess. She then went to Virtu Honest Craft in Scottsdale before to the Four Seasons Scottsdale.

“I am thrilled to be back at Sanctuary—my culinary roots—and to give fresh expression to the vibrant flavors and colors here,” said Sanz. “The opportunity to work so closely with Beau and Christiaan to fully integrate the culinary and bar programs is particularly exciting to me and recognizes the power of food and drink to connect us all.”

Arizona welcomes Christiaan Rollich

Netherlands native Christiaan Rollich started working in the bar industry at Les Deux Cafe to earn extra money while pursuing a acting and modeling career. He authored BAR CHEF: Handcrafted Cocktails in 2019 and Forbes called him “one of LA’s most innovative mixoligists” and is credited by LA Weekly with starting the city’s cocktail renaissance while at celebrated restaurants A.O.C and Luques.

“I love working closely with chefs, studying their techniques and bringing them to the world of drink,” said Röllich. “I can’t wait to see what Beau and Sam will bring to the table flavor-wise, and look forward to exploring and reinventing so my cocktails match their food.”

Top Chef John Tesar coming to 2020 Nirvana Food & Wine Festival

Update: Rescheduled to October. Purchased tickets good then, details to come.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has announced the dates and schedule of events for the fourth annual Nirvana Food & Wine Festival. April 16th -19th Chef and Nirvana host Beau MacMillan welcomes celebrity chef’s Robert Irvine, Scott Contant and Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” winner John Tesar. Celebrities including Rob Riggle and The Bella Twins and other chefs will be hosting and having fun with guests along with chefs and mixologists from around Arizona.

“This event is one that is so near and dear to my heart,” said MacMillan. “Having the opportunity to celebrate outstanding culinary talent, mixology, music and more alongside some of my closest friends and fellow foodies is a true privilege. Nirvana really offers something for everyone and that’s a big part of what makes the festival such a special experience.”

The annual festival celebrates food, wine, music and spirits in a most luxurious resort in the valley and has become a very popular festival in only three years.

Top Chef

Tickets for the five headlining events are available with additional events and after parties still may be added to the weekend’s festivities.

Thursday, April 16- Wood, Wine & Wagyu presented by Far Niente 

The 2020 festival kicks off with this ever-popular event, featuring superstar culinary talent from across North America preparing Snake River Farms American Wagyu cooked over open-wood flames while celebrity mixologists craft whisky-based cocktails utilizing Woodford Reserve. Guests will then be invited to take their places at the table for an intimate, family style dinner with wines hand selected by Far Niente. Country music superstars D. Vincent Williams, Dillon Dixon and Joe Diffy will provide musical accompaniment. Tickets start at $350.

Friday, April 17- Flutes & Coops

Experience the ultimate Champagne campaign and fried chicken feast headlined by DJ Miss Mixx, Fosterson and 17 of the Valley’s best chefs preparing their best fried chicken recipes. This indoor/outdoor event will feature full bars and cocktails shaken by some of the Valley’s best mixologists with one chef being crowned king of Flutes & Coops by popular vote. Tickets start at $150.

Saturday, April 18- Tequila & Tortillas

Grab the salt and limes! Held at the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, this year’s Dia de los Muertos-themed Tequila & Tortillas event will feature nearly 20 locally and nationally recognized chefs cooking up the best of the best in southwestern fare. Since no fiesta is complete without tequila, several of the Valley’s top cocktailers will be on-site mixing up delicious tequila-based cocktails.

This year’s event also features a team “taco takedown” competition, tequila luges and a stunning art presentation by the renowned Gennaro Garcia. Tickets start at $125.

Saturday, April 18- Best of the West

The biggest event of the weekend, Best of the West will be hosted by Scott Conant and Tony Abou-Ganim and will offer 20 live-action stations showcasing cuisine from the most talented chefs of the Valley and greater Arizona. Set to the backdrop of the stunning Camelback Mountain, this not-to-miss event will also offer live musical performances from Double D and the Nashville Allstars to close out the night. Tickets start at $175

Sunday, April 19- Rosé Parté  

The star-studded rosé-all-day trend continues with Rosé Parté, co-hosted by Robert Irvine and the Bella Twins. Guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the Valley’s top culinary talent as well as taste two-dozen different rosé wines. This brunch-style party will also include craft cocktails, ice carvings, a raw bar and beats by DJ Miss Mixx. Giving new meaning to the term “Sunday Funday,” this is a not-to-miss closing experience. Tickets start at $150.

Jade Bar to host battle of the bartenders

Valley bartenders are rolling up their sleeves and getting their shakers ready as Bar Brawl returns to the Jade Bar. The bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa hosts this friendly competition for its fifth year. This year has bartenders from popular valley hotels and bars going head to head.

Set aside Sunday evenings from July 14th – August 25 to see what cocktails the talented bartenders will be creating. Admission is free and open to the public to cheer on their favorite bartender. Executive chef Beau MacMillian and Jade Bar manager Eddie Garcia will co-host the event with celebrity judges deciding who goes on to the seni-finals.

DJ Hybrid will provide music for the evening and food and drinks will be at happy hour prices.

During the four weeks bartenders will compete with winners going on to the semi-finals then the championship. This years bartenders include….

July 14 Michael Testa – Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

vs. Tina McDonald – La Bocca North

July 21 Chris Ortega – The Camby vs. Samantha Hickman – The Windsor

July 28 Miguel Mora – Hotel Adeline vs. Henry Whittaker – The Brickyard Downtown

Aug. 4 Robert Porter – The Phoenician vs. Colton Brock – Ladera Taverna y Cocina

Aug. 11 – Semi-finals

Aug. 18 – Semi-finals

Aug. 25 – Championship

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa is at 5700 E. McDonald Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.