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.

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.

 

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.

 

Summer Cocktail Camp tickets on sale for cocktail mixing classes

If all classes were like the six offered at Summer Cocktail Camp I would’ve been an “A” student. For six weeks campers will learn the art of cocktail mixing from local mixologists while making cocktails from new recipes. For one Saturday in June and 5 Sunday’s in July and August from 1 – 3 p.m. classes will be held at restaurants around Phoenix.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://summercocktailcamp.com/ and are sold on first come, first serve basis. Last years camp sold out in only a few days. Phoenix Magazine editor Craig Outhier will be camp counselor for each weeks class along with a revolving list of mixologists. Each class is $38 and 2019’s Summer Cocktail Camp will be at…

  • June 29th (Sat)- The Gladly
  • July 7th- Social Hall
  • July14th- Mowry & Cotton
  • July 28th- Clever Koi (Gilbert)
  • August 4th- The Phoenician Tavern
  • August 11th- Chico Malo

 

James Beard Foundation’s “Taste America” stops in Phoenix

Phoenix is on the map of the James Beard Foundation hot off the recent win by FnB’s Charleen Badman’s for “Best Chef: Southwest”. It’s also on the map for the foundations “Taste America” tour scheduled for September 19th- 21st. Phoenix is one of 20 cities chosen to host the event.

Tickets went on sale this week for the three day event for the cross country culinary experience.

Photos courtesy of Rose Moser Ally PR

Taste America events

The weekend kicks off on Thursday September 19th with the “Raising the Bar” walk around reception at Seventh and Union. Guests will meet rising star chefs and mixologists while sipping on cocktails and tasting culinary creations. Kyla Dahl of Pigtails Cocktail Bar, Henry Whittaker of Century Grand and Matt Steward of Undertow are a few of the mixologists pouring cocktails.

Dom Ruggiero of Hush Public House, Juan Zamora of Chula Seafood and Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper along with others will show off their culinary talents.

Friday night is the “Gala Benefit Dinner” at The Royal Palms Resort & Spa. The cocktail and tasting reception starts at 7 p.m. with tastes created by local chefs Stephen Jones of The Larder & Delta, Cat Bunnag of Glai Baan and others. Guests will then be treated to a three- course dinner menu created by visiting chef Tiffany Derry of Plano’s Roots Chicken Shack, local all-star Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and host chef Alexander Robinson.

A dessert reception with Danielle O’Day of Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop and Hollie Layman-Sanders of The Royal Palms ends the night.

A silent and live auction will be held during the evening. A portion of the proceeds from dinner and auctions will go to the foundations scholarship programs.

The weekend concludes with the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Program, Owning It. The workshop will bring together 60 women who are in the idea or growth phase of a food related business. A few women will pitch local investors for funding for their project and all will learn how to advance in the culinary industry.

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GinWorld calls Phoenix home for Gin Week in April

Connoisseurs of gin make their way to Phoenix in April as the 5th Annual GinWorld sets up shop. During “Gin Week Phoenix” restaurants and bars around Phoenix and Scottsdale will host seminars, tastings and competitions from April 22nd-28th.

“Phoenix is the perfect location to bring our Gin Week festivities,” says Natasha Bahrami, founder of GinWorld and Gin Week events, which has roots in St. Louis, Missouri. “The people, the culture and let’s not forget the weather, are primed for exactly this type of event that celebrates the spirit and spectrum of gin while bringing people together in a fun and engaging environment.”

“Gin Week” kicks off at Bitters Bar in Scottsdale for the “Campari Loves Gin” competition. “Campari Loves Gin” is open to anybody 21 and over and bartenders must be working in a Phoenix area bar/restaurant.  Four recipes must be submitted by April 15th on-line at http://ginworld.com/ and must use Campari and sponsored spirits and modifiers. Winning recipe entrants will be invited to the live cocktail competition on April 22nd. Cocktails will be judged on aroma, appearance, balance of ingredients and overall presentation.

Gin Week cocktail specials will be available at Bitters Bar, Blue Clover Distillery, Monroe Bar and Unexpected Art Gallery.

Gin Week ends on April 28th with a Gin Week Festival at Unexpected Art Gallery in downtown Phoenix. Over a 100 gins will be represented at the festival and attendees can check out educational seminars, meet with distillers and taste the gins. Guest will be able to enjoy the Bloody Mary Bar and Perfect Serve Gin Tonic Bar. Tickets for the festival are $55 and can be purchased on-line.

 

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