Although Alexa "Pixie" Bowler began her career in culinary school, she found a love for mixology when she realized that it combines the creativity of the kitchen with the guest interaction of the front of the house. She's a "cook by trade" but brings her love of balance, flavor and fresh ingredients to each drink she crafts at Cowboy Ciao. Joining suit with the kitchen's brand-new fall menu, Bowler is creating a 10-drink cocktail menu that accentuates the flavors of fall and pairs with dishes on the food menu.
Although Bowler has only been behind Cowboy Ciao's bar for six months, she has a long and loving history with the Old Town Scottsdale mainstay. That connection to the restaurant comes through in her new cocktail menu, which has intended dish and drink pairings throughout. Her Pastrami and Rye Old Fashioned uses the spicing of Cowboy Ciao's pastrami short ribs mixed with maple syrup and sweet vermouth to mellow out the spice and heartiness of the dish. The Sedona Sunset (we grabbed the recipe for you to try), pairs well with the pork barbacoa, blending sweet, tart and spicy notes.
Bowler says she tries to make her cocktails lower in spirit content so diners can enjoy more drinks with their intended dishes without worrying about over-imbibing. While this results in less clean and straightforward cocktails, it lends itself to complex flavors with a deeper focus on balancing sweetness and spice with bitterness and acidity. It also makes each drink dangerously drinkable.
Dish pairing is only one aspect of Bowler's intention with the new menu, though. A greater focus on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients and handmade tinctures, syrups and other mixers is evident in every drink. Like a meal, each drink features elements that take preparation and attention before execution, which makes them the ideal restaurant cocktail experience. Bowler's new menu isn't set to come out for another couple of weeks, but we have recipes for the You'd Be Nutty Not To and the Sedona Sunset for you to try before they're released if you're up for a challenge.
You'd Be Nutty Not To
1 1/2 oz Breaking and Entering Bourbon by St. George 1 1/2 oz Butternut Squash Agua Fresca (The juice of one small butternut squash, one cup raw maple syrup, one cup coconut milk.) 1/2 oz rich coconut sugar syrup 1/2 oz Frangelico four fresh sage leaves
In a mixing glass muddle the sage leaves and coconut syrup. Add all other ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Double strain into a glass coffee mug filled with ice. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg and sage leaves.
Tastes Like: Creamy, rich, sweet and very drinkable. Slight herbal notes from the sage, overt nuttiness from both the butternut squash and coconut.
1 1/2 oz Clement V.S.O.P. Agricole Rum 3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liquor 3/4 oz freshly squeezed orange juice 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 oz rich turbinado syrup 4 dashes Dale Degroff's Pimento Bitters 1 barspoon Hum Botanical 3/4 oz Cleret wine 2 parts smoked paprika to 1 part chili powder, allspice, sugar, and salt for rim garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice for 30 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe preset with 1/2 spiced rim mixture. Use back of barspoon to float 3/4 oz claret wine on top. Garnish with star anise pod.
Tastes Like: Acidic from citrus and cleret wine float with deep spiciness from the paprika and cayenne. Lightly sweet.