On Thursday, Scottsdale's Citizen Public House held its first-ever Cocktail Pairing Dinner. This "nod to pernod" featured cocktails from three of the Valley's top tenders -- Richie Moe, chief mixologist and partner at Citizen; Kris Korf, Citizen's bartender; and Travis Nass of Rancho Pinot -- who gathered to craft a six-course menu of concoctions.
The drink menu was then turned over to Chef Bernie Kantak, who paired each course with his upscale pub grub. Kantak, who can usually bang out a wine-pairing dinner menu in half an hour, said the dishes he matched with each cocktail took him four days to figure out -- such was the complexity of these beverages.
Check out the menu and some jealousy-inducing food porn after the jump.
Kumamoto oyster with tomato granite and micro basil
First Course Cocktail: Absolut Ruby Red grapefruit vodka, fresh grapefuit juice, spicy tomato water, fresh cracked pepper, finished with basil oil
Kris Korf's first offering was heavy on the tomato, but so was the oyster. The fruit's flavor in the latter canceled out the flavor in the former, allowing the cocktail's grapefruit notes to emerge.
Second Course Food: Tea smoked scallop with cauliflower puree, almond and golden raisin
Second Course Cocktail: Beefeater 24, hum botanical liqueur, Velvet Falernum, lemon juice, Earl Grey tea, Absolut Wild Tea rinse, smoked sugar, garnished with lemon peel and nutmeg
Travis Nass delivered a haymaker with this cocktail, which was so layered in flavor and aroma we couldn't spent all night exploring its depths. Kantak's scallop was just unfair -- incredibly flavorful and tender as butter.
Third Course Food: Tom yum namkhon with gulf rock shrimp and tangerine lace
Third Course Cocktail: Malibu Black, Absolut Citron, limoncello & house sour mix - poured over a frozen citrus meringue with lemon zest
In one of the best pairings of the evening, the coconut in Richie Moe's cocktail compounded with that in the soup while the sweet drink cut the dish's spice.
Fourth Course Food: Cider brined Berkshire pork belly with blackberry compote and white grits
Fourth Course Cocktail: Jameson Irish whiskey, vanilla-ginger Demerara simple syrup, Applejack, lemon juice, blackberry ash rim, garnished with lemon super peel and blackberries
Best pairing award goes to course four. The buttery pork was able to pull nuances out of Kris Korf's cocktail no one at our table thought possible. Outrageous.
Fifth Course Food: Veal short ribs with cognac demi-glace, saffron risotto and gremolata
Fifth Course Cocktail: Martell Cognac, Amaro bitter, Green Chartreuse, blood orange liquor, gin rinse, garnished with flamed orange peel
Better than watching Moe flame about 50 orange peels into Nass's second cocktail was actually tasting it -- the aroma was intensely citrusy; the flavor sweetly complex. However, it overpowered the more subtle dish.
Sixth Course Food: cinnamon apple cake and oatmeal ice cream with salted maple caramel sauce from Tracey Dempsey Originals
Sixth Course Cocktail: Glenlivet 12-year, hot water, steamed milk with fresh shaved almonds, served with Sandeman tawny port & maple-syrup-salted butter popsicle
You read that right: butter popsicle. Richie Moe's final cocktail was a process that involved melting this treat inside the warm cocktail -- but that didn't stop us from taking a bite.
Altogether, the half-dozen drinks were some of the most original and delicious we've had. The whole shebang cost $65, and Moe said Citizen plans to do one of these dinners every month -- make sure you don't miss the next one.