From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
39. Bobby Kramer of The Brickyard
A former U.S. Navy Corpsman and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran, Bobby “Doc” Kramer is the head bar keep of The Brickyard in Chandler. Since opening, the East Valley restaurant has become one of metro Phoenix's must-go cocktail destinations — thanks in no small part to Kramer's knack for crafting perfectly balanced drink recipes.
After spending years in the medical field, Kramer became fascinated with the "chemistry, alchemy, and even the science of flavor." He launched himself into the cocktail world by becoming actively involved with the United States Bartender’s Guild. He attended seminars and competitions, eventually becoming a two-time regional contender in the Diageo World Class Competition in 2015 and 2016.
Today, he dishes on why the best-kept secret in Phoenix is Phoenix and his go-to spots for date night.
My go-to place for date night with my beautiful wife, Lindsey, in Phoenix is anywhere that we can spend quality time together. For nights when I get off work late, we grab fantastic cocktails and late-night food at Bitter & Twisted. For pizza, we go to our favorite pizza joint, Cibo. If we want to relax, play some bags and have a pint, Rose & Crown is our go-to. There are so many fantastic places here in the Valley; it’s difficult to name them all.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is the fact that we have so many culinary innovators, titans, on both the culinary and beverage side. For example, Chef Aaron Rickel is the most talented, experienced, innovative, and modest chef I’ve ever met. Nino’s Greek has the best souvlaki platters, period (try the lamb!); Tortas el Guero has the best tortas in the valley (Pacifico all day); you have unparalleled bars like Crudo, Bitter & Twisted, and the Ostrich spread throughout the Valley (and that’s just to name a few). The more I think about it, Phoenix itself is the best-kept secret.
My favorite classic cocktail is the Negroni, because of its diversity, complexity, and simplicity. The Negroni comes off as dry, sweet, and bitter, and can change drastically in character depending on your preference of gin and vermouth. Try making one with St George’s Dry Rye gin, and it creates a fun hybrid feel of a Boulevardier (rye in place of gin) and Negroni, or try using Bols Genever and feel how much softer and sweeter it tastes. I love 'em in all shapes and sizes, any season, and any time of day. It is my go-to cocktail.
Right now I'm obsessed with, building Arizona’s craft cocktail community. To me, it’s about finding the balance between outstanding service and well-concocted cocktails. Continually learning and passing on your knowledge to those around you to better yourself and the community. It’s an amazing feeling to get to come to “work” every day and express my creativity and passion, with outstanding human beings who also genuinely care about our craft and the experience that we provide as professionals. I’m also obsessed with Star Wars Battlefront for the Xbox One.
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And totally over the heat. I’m ready for that gorgeous weather right around the corner!
Chandler could use more attractions to bring people to the southeast Valley. The East Valley has some of the best bars, restaurants, and nightlife that should be shared and celebrated by Arizona as a whole. It continually grows, and isn’t stopping soon. I think a sporting venue or maybe a concert venue would help encourage people to see what we (Chandler/Gilbert) have to offer. And less dirt lots. Let’s make them into something great — “Chanhattan Rising!”
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company
67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market
65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks
64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.
63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie
62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills
61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate
60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar
57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality
56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival
55. Pavle Milic of FnB
54. Pat Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering Company and The Farm at South Mountain
53. Brandon Casey of The Ostrich
52. Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots
50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild
49. Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys of AZ Bitters Lab
48. Ramona Button of Ramona Farms
47. Justin Piazza of La Piazza Al Forno and La Piazza PHX
46. Andrew Gooi of Food Talkies
45. Jason Raducha of Noble Bread and Noble Eatery
44. Ty Largo of Awe Collective
43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge
42. Heidi Lee of Into The Soup
41. ET Rivera of Tres Leches Cafe
40. Monika Woolsey of Hip Veggies