The Valley of the Sun, maybe because of all that sun, is home to some great drinking. The beer scene is great. The wine scene is great. And that's just the beginning. Here are three great recent stories in the metro Phoenix world of booze. Each of these stories goes beyond wine and beer. We get into sake, mead, and craft cocktails that will be coming soon from a familiar source. Cheers to this news, and to drinking in Phoenix.
Arizona Sake Wins International Competition
Junmai ginjo with gyoza and Japanese pickles.
Last month, the results of Tokyo's 2018 Sake Competition were released. According to the capital of the sake world, the world's best sake made outside Japan is made right here in Arizona. Atsuo Sakurai, a native of Yokohama, Japan, brews small batches of Arizona Sake at his Holbrook, Arizona, home. He works in an air-conditioned garage and makes 50 gallons of sake at a time. He makes raw, unfiltered junmai ginjo
, a pure sake style that limits ingredients to rice, water, yeast, and koji
(a kind of fungus). The accolades are huge to Sakurai, who dreams of opening a sake brewery. You can find Sakurai's magical product at vendors including Fujiya Market, Tops Liquor, House of Rice, New Tokyo Food Market, La Grande Orange, Hidden Track Bottle Shop, and Arcadia Premium. You can find this lush sake at area restaurants including Glai Baan, SoSoBa, Roka Akor, Binkley's Restaurant, and Nobuo at Teeter House.
New Sushi-and-Cocktail Concept From Clever Koi Team to Open in Fall
Courtesy of the Clever Koi
Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano of Clever Koi are bringing another concept to Phoenix this fall. Across the Pond will be an Asian-style craft cocktail bar. The cocktail bar is currently under construction and will seat 35 in an intimate, minimalist dining space. The team will serve omakase sushi and lower ABV cocktails than their flagship. They will also offer a list of imported Japanese whiskeys served highball style. Where Clever Koi is more flavor-forward, James and Campisano intend to use Across the Pond, a lower-volume operation, to be more nuanced and complex. Across the Pond will feature a rotating menu of 10 custom cocktails. Expect creative flavors with more emphasis on sake and sherry, and notably less on rum and gin. They’ll also copy their extensive Japanese whiskey options from Clever Koi – only here whiskey will be served highball-style with artisan ice.
Superstition Meadery Eyes Downtown Phoenix Expansion
Superstition Meadery products
Superstition Meadery is in the process of finalizing an expansion to downtown Phoenix. Since opening six years ago, the Prescott-based meadery has made more than 170 kinds of mead. Last year alone, Superstition turned out 29,000 gallons of honey wine. Superstition is seen as one of the state's great craft producers. "We're looking to do something in downtown Phoenix, and we're really psyched to reach out to the place where most of our fans are," owner Jeff Herbert says. Superstition uses Arizona honey for all its meads, and has since opening. Often, the meadery will flavor mead made from local honey with standout foreign ingredients, like Spanish saffron or vanilla from Tahiti. Herbert and his team will go even further with local ingredients, too. Recently, they harvested saguaro fruit for incorporation into a future fermented beverage. But craft hounds, honey heads, and Vikings will have to wait thirstily for this spot to open. Assuming papers go through, construction will still have to happen. Herbert is eyeing a fall 2019 opening.