If you find yourself with a Jack and Coke in hand this summer, you're not doing it right. In the wonderful world of cocktails, weird is the way to go. Whether that means you stumble into the back-alley entrance of a speakeasy or you take your drink muddled, shaken, and flambéed into Flavor City, the humdrum of long summer days is sure to be broken by some alcoholic experimentation.
See Also: - 10 Favorite Summer Cocktail Tips from Chow Bella's Resident Bartender, JK Grence - Summer Mixology Classes with Travis Nass at the Last Drop Bar, Starting May 19 - 10 Hotels for a Phoenix Staycation
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 is a delicious spectacle at Citizen. Distilled tableside using a double boiler, 100-proof vodka, juniper berries, and other fresh ingredients, $17 will buy you two glasses' worth, served with Fever Tree tonic and a lime.
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.
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 combined with the herbal flavors of Nolet's silver gin and the thyme garnish with the tart Peychaud bitters make a perfectly balanced and cravable summer cocktail. You can grab an Arcadia Club from their resident mixologist Micah Olson at Bar Crudo for $11.
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)
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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 which 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.