A Sip and a Show

Exploring Scottsdale’s More Experiential Cocktails

We are not supposed to play with our food… but no one said anything about cocktails.

Experiential cocktails—those offering a little show before the first sip—are hot right now, especially in Scottsdale.

Talking Stick Resort’s Orange Sky is among those leading the charge when it comes to this trend. Finally Infused ($18) is a perfect example. To make, the mixologists use a Japanese Yama Drip, a three-level infuser that allows guests to see ingredients—Hornitos Reposado Tequila with roasted pineapples and guajillo chilies—combine in real time. Once ready, the ultra-aromatic result is combined with lime juice and citrus syrup before being strained into a glass rimmed with smoked chili-lime salt and given a floater of Grand Mariner for contrast.

Geordie’s at Wrigley Mansion is also exploring playful liquid alchemy. Try The Passionista, ($28), which was developed to honor afternoon tea aficionado Ada Wrigley (for whom Wrigley’s gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. built the mansion for 100 years ago). This drink features yuzu-infused EFFEN Vodka, Aperol Aperitivo, Cointreau, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice. Visually, it gets its tea-like look as much from an intricate clarification process and addition of smoke as the fine china into which it is poured.  

Taking the smoke concept in an entirely different—but similarly stimulating and successful—direction is Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at Andaz Scottsdale, thanks to Et Tu, Brute ($17). While these are the famous last words of Julius Caesar, this cocktail is the perfect first sip to start a night out with friends or a date. Equal parts bitter and sweet, it is made with Sacred Stave Single Malt Whiskey, sweet vermouth, St. George Bruto Americano, and mole bitters. The kicker: it is served in a glass container that has been infused with smoke, only released once tableside.

Similarly using a cocktail’s serving vessel to set the stage for the perfect sip is Diego Pops. Its Guava Coconut ($15) is all about transporting diners to a beach, somewhere. What better way to get guests on island time than to mix up CÎROC™ Coconut vodka, coconut water, guava, and house sweet and sour, and then serve it in a real baby coconut (after its been scooped and cleaned, of course!).

Want to walk even farther on the wild side? Then don’t miss the over-the-top offerings at Starlite BBQ and Whiskey Bar. Among its best bets is Ribs and Rye ($13), a twist on an Old Fashioned. The cocktail starts with Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky, demerara syrup, mole bitters, and Bauchant Orange Liqueur. Then, house barbeque sauce is added before the guest’s eyes. The garnish? An actual barbequed baby back pork rib to nibble on between sips!

Finally, there is The Americano, where the bar team devotes its time to adding shock, awe, and OMG to every cocktail on the menu. The Third Monk ($18) is right up there with most inventive and visual drinks of the moment. The groovy green machine, served on a backlight coaster so it glows in the dark, starts with mesquite honey and amaretto. It then gets an herbal-yet-sweet flavor infusion thanks to Chartreuse Yellow, and is shaken with an egg white being strained into a rocks glass for texture and to further bring out the stark hue.

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