Arizona Cocktail Week is just around the corner and whether you and your liver are ready or not, there's going to be no shortage of things to do, see, and drink. The fourth annual event will include parties, seminars, and dinners all over the city and town, though most of the events will take place at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.
To handle the onslaught of events, you're going to need to plan ahead -- and lucky for you, we've pretty much got the perfect schedule all mapped out. Here are the ten events you don't want to miss during Arizona Cocktail Week.
Tasting Panel Speakeasy When: Saturday, February 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Sands Building Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: Free with AZCW wristband
Start off your weekend nice and slow with a stop by the Tasting Panel Speakeasy, put on by Tasting Panel Magazine. Here you'll be able to sample "premiere brand spirits and cocktails" including bourbons, rums, and tequilas. Entry to the event is free with an Arizona Cocktail Week wristband, which can be purchased for $10 at local BevMo! stores or online. The wristband also includes special promotional priced discounts on cocktails at restaurants throughout the state.
Cocktail Carnival When: Saturday, February 14 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Where: OH Pool, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25
This year's kick off party for Arizona Cocktail Week will be all about the "Dark Ages of the Cocktail." But whether you're into classic drinks such as the Appletini and Mind Eraser, this is a party you don't want to miss. In addition to elevated versions of those old school drinks booze hounds love to hate (think White Russians and Sex on The Beach) the carnival will include Cirque du Soleil pool acts, a photo booth...oh and lots of cocktails.
Women: The Old Masters of Whiskey When: Sunday, February 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Where: Sands Building, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25, $50 with signed book
Whiskey is certainly en vogue right now, so what better way to celebrate Cocktail Week than by learning a few new facts of the spirit? Let's start right now with the fact that whiskey was invented by a women. This panel, which will be moderated by bourbon expert and author of Women in Whiskey Fred Minnick, will include a Q&A with some of the top women in whiskey today including Victoria MacRae-Samuels, vice president of distillery operations for Maker's Mark Bourbon; Vicky Stevens, visitor centre manager and global ambassador for Laphroaig Scotch Whisky; and Tish Harcus, ambassador and historian for Canadian Club Whisky.
Top Bars of America When: Sunday, February 15 from 9 p.m. to midnight Where: Hotel Valley Ho Ballrooms Entry: $25
While much of Arizona Cocktail Week will focus on highlighting our local bars and restaurants, this event will bring some of the top bars from all over the country right to our own backyard. During Top Bars of America, you'll be able to "bar hop" among pop-up bars from well-respected national spots such as The Dead Rabbit in New York, Rose.Rabbit.Lie in Las Vegas, Death & Co. in New York, and Acorn in New York.
Artisanal Spirit and Cocktail Market When: Monday, February 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. Where: Sands Building, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: Free with AZCW wristband
If you're looking to learn about the boutique spirits available in our state and check out some of the latest trends in bartending, then you won't want to miss this market and sampling event. In addition to craft spirits from micro-distillers, the event will feature bitters, syrups, purees, and pretty much everything else cocktail related.
Last Slinger Standing When: Monday, February 16, begins at 7 p.m. Where: Bitter & Twisted Entry: Sold out
Hopefully you already got tickets to this event, which will be held this year at Bitter & Twisted in downtown Phoenix. This cocktail competition pits teams of bartenders from Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona against each other in a contest that includes secret ingredients, challenges, and more. This year Arizona's team includes Joshua James of Clever Koi, Matthew Talavera of Cup Café at Hotel Congress, Tim Lafever of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Erick Bornmann of Flycatcher (Tucson) and Crudo, and Brandon Casey of Citizen Public House. The winner will walk away with the Centennial Cup with their name emblazoned on the trophy plaque.
Jade Bar Reunion When: Tuesday, February 17 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Where: Counter Intuitive Entry: $25
Celebrate Fat Tuesday this year at the soon-to-open spot Counter Intuitive in Scottsdale. Not only will this be a chance to check out the new digs, it will also be a reunion for some of the nations top mixologists who all started their careers at the Vallay's own Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Resort. The event will reunite names such as Micah Olson of Crudo, Jason Asher of Youngs Market, Clint Spotleson of Renaissance Hotels, Jillian Vose of Dead Rabbit, and Tyson Buhler of Death & Co for a night of food and drinks.
For The Love of Liquor Cocktail Dinner When: Wednesday, February 18, begins at 6:30 p.m. Where: Bitter & Twisted Cost: $70, $60 with AZCW wristband
Throughout the week there will be a handful of Imbibe N' Dine dinners hosted at restaurants around the Valley and state, each of which will showcase a different distillery, chef, and bartender. Logistically it's impossible to make them all, but if we had to pick (and plan around other events), we would put money towards this dinner at Bitter & Twisted in downtown Phoenix. Not only is chef Bob Tam quite a talent, but the dinner will be inspired by Asian and Peruvian cuisines, which pretty much ensures it's going to be unique. Dessert is also sure to be interesting: a special treat from High Spirited Cupcakes and cocktail night cap. Call 602-340 -1924 for a reservation.
Linger Longer Bar Olympics When: Thursday, February 19, begins at 9 p.m. Where: Linger Longer Lounge Entry: Free to participate with AZCW wristband
If you make it this far into Cocktail Week and aren't done yet, head to the newly opened Linger Longer Lounge in Phoenix for a night of bar games. The round robin tournament of games will include darts, beer ball, and shuffleboard with prizes, swag, and one cent welcome cocktails for everyone. The event will also include $5 craft-draft cocktails.
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National Margarita Day When: Sunday, February 22 from noon to 5 p.m. Where: OH Pool, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: Free
Close out Cocktail Week at this free party hosted by El Jimador Tequila and Casa Herradura Tequila at the OH Pool at the Hotel Valley Ho. The event, which is open to the public, will include mariachi, a live DJ, cocktail samples, and tequila education stations, as well as food pairings from chef Charles Wiley.
Tickets to all events can be purchased online. For a complete schedule of Arizona Cocktail Week events visit the Arizona Cocktail Week website.