Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter whether you're lounging poolside, at a party, or just need to cool down on a hot day, a summer cocktail is a great way to refresh.
Valley chefs and restaurateurs agree -- especially when kitchens this time of year reach temperatures as hot (or hotter) than it is outdoors.
What adult beverage do they reach for when they need a break from the blistering heat? From tried-and-true classics to creative concoctions of their own, the following answers may inspire you to find a new summertime favorite. Ahh . . .
Heather Bryan, General Manager, Zuzu
Every summer, I fall totally in love with one particular drink and end up making it over and over again. This year, it's Blackberry Bourbon Tea. It's made with fresh blackberries, good-quality bourbon, sugar, black tea, and chopped fresh mint, with mint sprigs for the garnish.
Chef Chris Nicosia, Sassi
Summertime is time for ice-cold beer. I really like San Tan's Devil's Ale. There's also a refreshing drink that I make with lots of tequila, some muddled watermelon and lime, and lots of ice. It's the only time that I drink something on the sweet side. Otherwise, its beer, tequila on the rocks, or wine.
Chef "T" (Theresa Wille), 32 Shea
After working all day in a hot kitchen, sipping on a ice cold sangria is quite relaxing.
Michael O'Dowd, Chef and Owner, Renegade MOD
Last year, my favorite spirit was gin. This year, it will be all about funky daiquiris and how I can twist them up and experiment by adding minerals and spices to cocktails, too.
Christopher Gross, Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Laphroaig, please, with one small ice cube.
Guido Saccone, Chef and Partner, Cibo
With the summer heat, I always crave refreshing drinks. This year, I'm hooked on something we're going to offer at Cibo soon. Basil vodka, grapefruitcello (a grapefruit version of limoncello), fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, and a touch of sparkling water with ice. This cocktail is perfect for the hot Phoenix summer that I'm still not accustomed to.
Chef Massimo De Francesca, Taggia
Chilled coconut water, fine-aged Bajan dark rum, and one block of ice.
Bryan Dooley, Chef and Owner, Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue
My favorite cocktail for any season is a gin and tonic -- always refreshing and just might keep your malaria in check! I also love a gimlet when I get on a Raymond Chandler kick.
Aaron Eckburg, Owner, Go Lb. Salt
Mojito or gin and tonic. I'm waiting on delivery of my new, two-liter soda siphon. Why buy club soda or tonic water when there are so many great tonic syrups (like EW's Tonic syrup made in Gilbert) that can be added to your own soda water?
Chef Vinny Monica, The Cove Trattoria
The Moscow Mule is my favorite summer cocktail. The copper mug is the key to keeping this drink cold. Our recipe is 1.5 ounces of vodka, a squeeze of fresh lime, and topped with ginger beer.
Chef Gregory Wiener, Top of the Rock
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SHOW ME HOW
I make up my own weird cocktails, but lately I've been drinking a mixture of Arroyo Vodka, Mighty Mango, Gosling's Ginger Beer, and a splash of Knockout Energy -- a cheap Red Bull knock-off.
Lisa Khnanisho, Owner, Tryst Café
I recently had a pomegranate mojito. It's my new favorite cocktail!