"I had this epiphany like, 'What'd they do before soda guns?'" he explains. "In keeping it simple I made things really complex."

Even gathering the proper ingredients, like the cinchona bark that contains the quinine found in tonic, took time. Cinchona bark is still regulated by the FDA, as it is a known treatment for malaria, and Cavanagh says the tea brewed from the bark mixed with government-rationed gin for commanding officers in the English army on their colonial conquests is likely how the gin and tonic was born.

Though his tonic syrup was the first to be sold online, he says, it's unlikely that a Phoenician would get credit for starting a trend, but the multitude of copycats shows him that he was on the right path.

Citizen R+D’s G+T
heather Hoch
Citizen R+D’s G+T
Bar Crudo’s Arcadia Club
heather Hoch
Bar Crudo’s Arcadia Club
Palo Verde’s Pickle Shot
heather Hoch
Palo Verde’s Pickle Shot
Drop Bar’s Yellow Jacket
heather Hoch
Drop Bar’s Yellow Jacket
subtle takeover

"Phoenix is like the big city that just gets forgotten or lost — we always get overlooked," he says.

One thing he thinks would put Phoenix on the map for mixology is having a local distillery. The notion may give hope that Phoenicians might be seeing one pop up sooner rather than later. Regardless, Cavanagh and Olson both agree that the city is on the right track.

"As much as I travel, I think Phoenix's cocktails are as good as anywhere else; we just have fewer places that are doing it," Olson says. "The movement is definitely happening here."

Citizen R +D's G + T: One of Phoenix's best mixologists, Richie Moe, takes crafting unique cocktails to the highest level at Citizen R+D. In the back alley behind Scottsdale's Citizen Public House, there's a staircase. Read the posted rules, call upstairs, and pray they have room for you in the small, 20-person lounge. Once you're in, you can pick from a wildly inventive cocktail list that uses ingredients like a popcorn tincture and pearl dust. The classic gin and tonic, which is John Cavanagh's favorite drink, is a delicious spectacle at Citizen. Distilled tableside using a double boiler, 100-proof vodka, juniper berries, and other fresh ingredients, two glasses' worth, served with Fever Tree tonic and a lime, will run you $17. (7111 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, 602-904-3904)

Palo Verde Lounge's Pickle Shot (or the Tijuana Hooker): If the exclusivity of a Scottsdale speakeasy turns you off, never fear. Even dive bars keep it weird by using leftover ingredients. That's where one of the best shots in town comes in. A shot of crappy well tequila with a half-shot pickle juice chaser might sound disgusting, but the brininess of the juice completely cuts the burn of the tequila. Plus, you can spice your pickle shot up with hot sauce, thus getting the disturbingly named Tijuana Hooker. PV's pickle shot runs $3.50 per go, so you might find yourself under the table quickly. (1015 W. Broadway Road, Tempe, 480-968-9221)

Bar Crudo's Arcadia Club: Egg whites? In a cocktail? Don't worry, you can't taste them, but after a vigorous shaking of the cocktail, you can feel the frothy, smooth difference in texture that it adds. The fruitiness of the raspberry syrup and lemon, the herbal flavors of Nolet's silver gin and the thyme garnish, and the tart Peychaud bitters combine to make a perfectly balanced and cravable summer cocktail. You can grab an Arcadia Club at Bar Crudo for $11. (3603 E. Indian School Road, 602-358-8666)

Crescent Ballroom's New Old Fashioned: Though Crescent Ballroom has made its name with great music in a beautifully restored garage space downtown, its specialty cocktails — like the sweet, strawberry Rest Stop and fizzy, ginger Honey Badger — have created a buzz in more ways than one. The most recent addition to the list is the New Old Fashioned ($8), which is a mix of Jim Beam's Devil's Cut bourbon, simple syrup, and water muddled with strawberries, oranges, bitters, and mint. Mixologist Micah Olson loves the classic combination of spirit, sugar, and bitters in the classic old fashioned, and the update with fresh ingredients at Crescent Ballroom is a welcomed addition. (Disclosure: Heather Hoch works at Crescent Ballroom.) (308 N. 2nd Ave., 602-716-2222)

Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa Inn's Yellow Jacket: While most of Last Drop Bar's menu has drinks dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, the Yellow Jacket recipe is a 21st-century drink with a smooth, sweet, and refreshing taste. Corrido reposado tequila, St. Germain, yellow chartreuse, and orange bitters are all stirred together on ice and filtered into a martini glass with a lemon peel garnish, creating a light flavor that ends up tasting like a grown-up cousin to the margarita. If you stop in for Mixology Mondays, you can try it out for only $8. (5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley, 602-955-7878)

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