Uptown Phoenix Cocktail Fun – Scottsdale Restaurants
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Here in Phoenix, we’re pretty lucky to be able to walk into several places from Downtown to Arcadia and order a well-balanced cocktail from a bartender that probably knows way too much about every single ingredient that’s going into the glass.
I wanted to take a closer look at what’s going on in the Uptown Phoenix area around 7th Street and Bethany Home Road. To start, a big reason that I am intrigued by the area is that there have been so many cool spots popping up. Coming to us from well-known and respected restaurateurs or restaurant groups. A few of my favorites beverage programs that we will be talking about include:
Fox Restaurant Concepts which kick-started the area with the opening of the second Culinary Dropout and one of their first boutique concepts, Little Cleo’s.
Chef Cullen Campbell and Mixologist Guru, Micah Olson’s southern restaurant, Okra
Genuine Concepts – The Womack
The “All of the time $5 Double Blind” at Culinary Dropout
As a former Dropout, I have to show some love to the very fun cocktail menu at Culinary Dropout. Because I personally witnessed so many people enjoy it over and over again. FRC Beverage Director and “Vices Specialist,” Mat Snapp, split the menu into four different categories – Light & Easy, Two Handed Shandies, Copper-Less Mules and Classic Dropouts.
But what I suggest if you’re feeling adventurous. Is to take a walk on the wild side and pick yourself a shot out of a bucket. Then pair it with a lovely paper bag beer. That is sure to remind you of college house parties. This, as you may have guessed, is not in one of those fancy-not-fancy categories. Not that I really consider a crappy shot and subpar brown paper-bagged beer an ideal sipping situation. I do know that I’ve watched plenty of people have tons of fun with it. I also may or may not have partaken myself.
Bonus Culinary Dropout Mentions
If you are looking for an authentic cocktail experience. Two of my favorites come from the Light & Easy and Copper-Less Mules parts of the menu. If we’re talking a copper-less mule, I’m definitely going for the “Pistols At Dawn.” Why? Well, I like bourbon and booze-heavy cocktails that don’t taste like it. The Pistols at Dawn uses Bulleit Bourbon (a decent bourbon for sipping even). Ancho Reyes, a chile liquor for a little heat. Ginger agave for a natural sweetener. Followed by a Cabernet splash that really rounds out the flavors giving it a nice earthy taste.
When I’m feeling light or drinking on the huge covered patio during a beautiful day. I’d go for, “The Fall of Eden.” I’m not usually a big vodka person. But this cocktail calls for a fig vodka that blends well with green apple brandy for a slight tartness. Followed by blackberry elderflower & sparkling wine for bubbles and roses.
Oh My Julep at Okra
No surprise here… of course, we have to feature the beverage program at Okra. As it comes from Master Mixologist, Micah Olson. Always doing an excellent job of tying the cuisine to the beverage program. Micah and Cullen have really outdone themselves with this southern cookhouse and cocktail bar. Micah has made it pretty easy to choose a drink (aside from the fact that all of the cocktails sound delicious). Based on if something refreshing, direct or odd is what you need.
However, the real shining stars seem to be the juleps. Because what better to do than take a traditional southern cocktail and add a modern spin? They even have a what we’ll call a “House Mint Julep.” Which, at only eight bucks is a great one to get started with if you’re unsure of how much you’ll love a julep. I’m not sure how anyone could not love a julep with its minty freshness, perfect ice and enough sugar to cut through southern snacks like the smoked chicken wings.
Outside of the house, there is also a flavor for everyone. Feeling something super light and refreshing? Go bubbly with the Champagne Julep. Needing something to help you finish those fried chicken skins, hush puppies, and pork rinds? Maybe go with the “Prescription Julep,” a cognac-based julep. All I’m saying is there are options. Due to my previously mentioned love for the Julep, I recommend going Okra style all the way. For only a couple bucks more, you can sip on the Okra Four Roses Private Barrel Bourbon.
If you’re somewhat new to the cocktail world and are feeling a little intimidated. This is a great spot to come check out during happy hour. Sunday Funday or a case of the Monday’s Monday are particularly great times to check it out. As they have all day happy hour and as far as cocktails go, there are TWELVE Southern Standards to choose from.
Absinthe Cocktails & $2 Champagne Pours at Little Cleo’s
Yes, you read that correctly… $2 champagne pours! Ah, what do I love more than oysters, shrimp, and fresh seafood? Oh, that’s right. I love champagne and cocktail menus made for oysters. As one would imagine. The beverage program at Little Cleo’s is just as light and refreshing as the bright white-tiled and granite counter topped small boutique restaurant. Split between Absinthe, Spirits, Beer, Wine and my favorite, “Champagne and Such.” Little Cleo’s is a place for the Absinthe lover. It’s also, as I found out, a place for the margarita lover. Not the cocktail I was expecting to leave having fallen in love with but it was. The “Currant and Honey” is actually a tequila and mezcal cocktail that is very margarita-esque. But only better with a smoked salt and charred lime rim. Again, yes… you read that right, guys, they charr their limes!
Now, a must mention – Little Cleo’s Happy Hour is AMAZING! That’s by the way where you can find the $2 champagne pours. $5 specialty cocktails and a special weekly cocktail. ½ off Absinthe & Absinthe Cocktails. ½ off all Royales and $1 shrimp and oysters. You know where to find me Monday-Saturday anytime between the hours of 4 and 6 pm…
Kicking it 60’s Classic at The Womack
I love menus that match the décor and vibe of a place. I realize that’s usually the goal with a bar. But the Genuine Concepts people know what they’re doing and nailed it with The Womack. With a nod to the classics, The Womack puts a modern spin on 60’s-inspired cocktails with their beverage program. Most noteworthy, they also make the best Amaretto Sour I’ve had in Phoenix. Especially relevant is the fact that I’m not one to order an Amaretto Sour either. Don’t let the egg white thing scare you; it’s just frothy goodness. I would definitely suggest it if you’re going for an easy drinking cocktail. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and tart.
Actually, you can’t go wrong as all of the cocktails are classics and are familiar to those looking for an experience. But also something familiar. Crowd favorites include the simple but elegant champagne cocktail served in beautiful vintage champagne flutes. Of course, the “Gin Rickey” which has a fabulous house lime-lemongrass-mint shrub. The classic Martini or Gibson that features a lovely saltwater tincture. Helping to cut the vodka or gin and vermouth combo. All of this while sitting in the big-Durant’s-like booths, velvet wallpaper and “loungey” R&B feel. As live music or a DJ spinning graces your ears (at least Wednesday-Sunday). Makes for a lovely Mad Men experience and you will feel like you’ve done a little time traveling.
What’s cool is that all of these places in Uptown Phoenix are close to one another lending plenty of opportunity to do a fun bar hopping night. Or to check them and their corresponding little hubs individually.
Need a few buzz words to remember these Uptown Phoenix places by? Julep, Double-Blind, Amaretto Sour, Absinthe and Happy Hour Champagne Pours. Actually, I’m pretty sure that all you have to do is ask for a cocktail and you’re safe. And speaking of safe, let’s all remember either a designated driver or an Uber driver and to leave a water bottle on the nightstand.
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