Paloma Punchout bartending competition coming to the Esplanade

A nationwide bartending competition is coming to Phoenix bringing bartenders from around the country to see who makes the best Paloma. Arlene Magana from Platform 16 Bar will represent Phoenix in the Paloma Punchout Saturday, October 22nd at the Esplanade.

The Paloma is prepared by combining tequila, lime juice and grapefruit flavored soda and is the the most popular tequila based cocktail in Mexico. Not much is known how it got its start but some say it was named after a popular folk song “La Paloma”, The Dove. The cocktail debuted in Phoenix in 1938 when grapefruit soda was first used.

Each participant won a competition in their city to earn the chance to win the $10,000 cash prize. Another Round, Another Rally, a nonprofit offering emergency assistance and financial support to those in the hospitality in their time of need will be the beneficiary of the event. Mister Wallin’s Neighborhood, a global community of bartenders, mixologists and food & wine lovers, conducted a nationwide search of top bars to find the best Paloma cocktail. The cocktails will be scored on a weighted system on flavor, balance, appearance, and inspiration.

Tickets for the Paloma Punchout are available at Eventbrite for $50 and gets you seven cocktails from the local pop-up bars in attendance. The Esplanade is at 2501 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85016. The competition starts at 8 p.m.

Arizona Tiki Oasis 2022 returning to Scottsdale

The Hotel Valley Ho is set to host the return of the Arizona Tiki Oasis 2022 Thursday, April 28th thru Sunday, May 1st. The four day event will be free to the public and some tickets will need to purchased to attend certain events and seminars. The mid-century modern hotel is perfect for those to gather in festive aloha attire while sipping on tropical cocktails and immersing themselves in the Polynesian culture.

Events and Seminars at Arizona Tiki Oasis

The Arizona Tiki Oasis Marketlace will be Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Over 60 artists, crafters and traders will show off their works in the unique shopping environment. Over 25 international Tiki artists will display works of art at the Arizona Tiki Oasis Pop-Up Art Exhibit on Friday, Saturday and Sunday also from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Both events are free to attend.

Seminars range in price from $0-$50 per seminar. Seminars topics include mid-century modern and Polynesian pop culture that will feature art, mixology, architecture, music and design. All are meant to be fun and educational.

A few of the planned seminars include Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Tiki, Creating a Tiki Garden, Agave Spirits in Tropical Cocktails, Arizona Tiki Oasis 2022 Bartender Battle, Conscious Tropical, Mocktails 101, Raffia Flowers and Pom Poms, Tiki in Pop Surrealist Art.

Evening Resort Pass tickets are $99 each and include Thursday’s Meet & Mingle, access to evening events and poolside tastings all weekend.

Deluxe Evening Resort Pass tickets are $200 and include all of the above and a shopping bag with goodies from sponsors and an invite VIP Kick-Off Cocktail Party.

Both events are for guests 21 and over.

The hotel will host a traditional luau with a pig roast on Friday night serving poke bowls along with Crispy Cold Braised Short Ribs and more. Hawaiian desserts and cocktails will keep you in the aloha spirit.

More information and to purchased tickets can be found at the Arizona Tiki Oasis 2022 website. The Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

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.

House of Tricks owners retiring and closing in 2022.

Robin & Bob Trick have been a staple on the downtown Tempe food & wine scene for over 3 decades, before there was a food & wine scene. They’ve decided to retire and broke the sad news on their Facebook page that they will be closing their popular restaurant at the end of June 2022. Until then they will continue to serve happy hour & dinner Mondays thru Saturdays. Thank you for your contribution to the Tempe food & wine scene, they deserve a great send off into retirement.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria launches winter for a limited time

Margarita or Margherita no matter how you spell it, it’s on the new menu at all Arizona locations through March 7th. New menu items include the Margherita Pizza, Arugula Sunset Salad, a Black Cherry & a Reese’s Peanut Buttercup Cheesecake, Black Cheery Margarita & Peach Margarita.

Romeo’s Third Tuesday dinner continues next week

The popular monthly dinner at Romeo’s Euro Cafe in downtown Gilbert is on for next Tuesday, December 21st. The 3 course menu features Mousse of Duck Foie Gras, Pork Shank Latino & Nutella Chocolate Cheesecake. All courses are paired with wine and the dinner is only $39 per person. Call 480-962-4224 to make your reservation.

Thai Chili 2 Go opens newest location Saturday

The west valley gets the 12th location of the popular fast casual concept when it opens in Peoria on Saturday December 18th. The first 50 guests on the 18th get a free entree, then from 19th – 31st guests stopping in to the new location at 16955 N. 75th Ave. will get free order of Thai Dumplings with the purchase of an entree. To order online use promo code Peoria13 to get the free dumplings.

Garden Bar PHX is now open

Holiday cocktails and tasting boards are available at the new cocktail bar from Kim Hasaarud. The downtown Phoenix cottage at 822 N. 6th Ave. is open Thurs- Saturday from 5-10 p.m. and will offer brunch on Sunday’s at 11 a.m. starting December 26th. For more information, to order a cocktail kit or to get on the “Wait List” head to their website.

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.

 

“In the Lane” holiday cocktail event celebrates the spirit(s) of the season

Nothing beats the feeling you get as a kid or as a ‘big” kid during the holiday season. Event producer Mecurial AZ is throwing an event for the “big” kids at their first annual “In the Lane” holiday cocktail event happening next Thursday evening December 15th.

“It’s undeniable that there is something special about this time of year,” says Mercurial AZ founder, Shea Graves. “As children, we watched our world change around this with excitement, but, as we have matured, the holiday essence has become clouded with the stress of gift giving, & making sure everything is ‘perfect.’ The magic of the holidays is not only for children. I want to provide one night for adults to experience a night of the carefree holiday magic we remember so fondly.”

Mrs. Santa’s Sister. All photos courtesy of Miguel Mora

Creative holiday cocktails from valley mixologist Miguel Mora will help set the holiday mood with live music from the Kim Weston Jazz Band performing holiday favorite tunes. Magician and fire-eater, Mike the Trickster will entertain guests and there will be plenty of  photo opportunities including those with the resident “dapper Santa”.

Mora who’s made cocktails at Vecina and Maple & Ash has created a welcome drink and three full sized seasonal craft cocktails for the “In the Lane” event. Cocktails will be made with spirits from Grand Canyon Brewing & Distilling and craft beers from 12 West Brewing & Grand Canyon Brewing and food from The Wildfire food truck will be available for purchase.

Proceeds from the night will benefit Little Eyes International, a Phoenix non-profit that provides free eye exams and glasses to children in Rocky Point. “In the Lane” will be at Alborada Village at Central & Baseline Rd. in Phoenix from 6:30 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person with the welcome drink and three craft cocktails included. Tickets can be purchased at their website.

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.

 

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