Best Intrepid Spirit 2020 | Adventurous Stills Fossil Creek Whiskey | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Ever sat around a campfire with friends, just chilling, melding into the sights and sounds of the woods after a long day hiking? That's the blissful sensation the founders of Adventurous Stills sought to channel into a spirit. Their particular inspirational hike occurred in Fossil Creek, hence the name of their creation, Fossil Creek Whiskey. It begins with a blend of corn, wheat, and rye, all grown by local providers. The distillate is then aged in charred white oak. The final product? It has something of bourbon, a slight sultry sweetness. But it also recalls Scotch, with a wisp of smoke, like the column rising from a campfire, making sips, life, and the universe feel all gravy.

Onetime punk-rock bandmates Randall D. Ordovich Clarkson and Justin Slusher have summoned the green fairy to Phoenix. Since December 2019, the duo have been selling two absinthes macerated in Tempe. Their Gold bottle punches hard. At 140 proof, it'll swirl and sharpen the world in under two glasses. But this lucent, yellow-green nectar offers more than ABV. Clarkson and Slusher built it using the old-school formulation out of Pontarlier, France. You get a hit of anise and fennel, sure, but these big flavors are reasonably soft. They also deploy extra botanicals like juniper berry and star anise. Enjoy it at spots like Zinc Bistro and Adventurous Stills.

Lauren Cusimano

To be fair, this is the only insect-based entree we've been able to find in the Valley, so technically it's the best by default. But it's a culinary experience not to be missed. Silkworms are a delicacy in Korean cuisine, but they don't make it onto the menus of most Korean restaurants, which ... isn't really surprising. If you decide to take the plunge at Drunken Tiger, you'll get a medium-sized bowl of soup. The broth is earthy and a little pungent, with just enough spice to make the mouth tingle. Bobbing around in the broth are shredded carrots, mushrooms, onions — and a lot of silkworm pupae. They have a gentle crunch that gives way to a smooth, creamy texture like a bean. If we're being honest, the next time we're at Drunken Tiger, we'll probably order one of our perennial favorites, like the galbi or the yang nyum chicken (popcorn chicken tossed in Korean red sauce). But we'll always be glad we sampled this one-of-a-kind metro Phoenix dish.

Fired Pie

When you bite into the Steak and Blue Pizza at Fired Pie, it bites back. That would be the gorgonzola, a pungent Italian cheese made from unskimmed cow's milk that has salty sass running through its blue veins. The way the cheese interacts with the rest of the Steak and Blue's ingredients — garlic, oil, mozzarella, mushrooms, peppers, onion, and thin-sliced steak — doesn't change much about its dirty-foot aroma. Against these odds, though, this pie tastes amazing. We recommend it for a solo outing, though. Maybe not great for date night.

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