Spirited Traveler: Phoenix goes creative cocktail crazy
By Kara Newman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Like many other areas of the U.S. southwest, just a few years ago Phoenix's de facto cocktail of was the Margarita, or perhaps a patrician Gin & Tonic to sip by the golfing green.
But over the past couple of years cocktail culture has accelerated in Phoenix - so much so that the city will play host to the first-ever Arizona Cocktail Week (arizonacocktailweek.com/)
from February 19-25.
"There's a lot of garden-to-glass out here," explains festival organizer Jason Asher, referring to the growing trend to use local and seasonal ingredients in making drinks. " using Arizona produce as much as possible, particularly local citrus, which is appropriate for a climate like ours."
While Tucson (about an hour and a half away) has also developed a lively cocktail scene, Phoenix and adjacent Scottsdale - best known to many business travelers as a golf mecca - has developed a stellar roster of bartending talent.
Asher first drew attention to the region when GQ magazine named him the 'Most Inspired Bartender' in 2010. At the time, he ran the Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort (www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/),
where his Beet & Yuzu Gimlet helped win him the honor. Asher is now head mixologist for Young's Market Company, a wine and spirits distributor.