The Best Kept Cocktail Secrets in Scottsdale

By local contributor
Cacinda Maloney

We Arizonians may be famous for prickly pear and saguaro cacti, haboobs, and shunning daylight savings time, but I can tell you one thing I have learned living in Scottsdale for 20 plus years – we love a good drink! The cocktail industry explosion has risen to new heights in Scottsdale with many mixologists using local ingredients, including alcohol made right here in the Valley of the Sun.

After recently experiencing a distillery in a small, hip USA town that was making its own spirits, I started dreaming of finding similar places in Scottsdale.  This particular distillery was a family-owned business with roots five generations deep in the agricultural business.  They had such a passion for making small-batch spirits that I hoped my hometown could hold court. After returning, I was on the hunt for local distilleries to see what all the fuss was about.

One distillery that’s gaining lots of attention (both locally and nationally) is Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost (O.H.S.O), with three locations in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas.

O.H.S.O. (pronounced “oh so”) is a casual indoor/outdoor brewing company with each location attached to an eclectic restaurant. And when I say casual, heck, you can even bring your dog to this place! Many distillers will say that distilleries involve collaborations, but O.H.S.O. wanted to take that one step further and invite home brewers.  This means you can come on by and help them make a guest batch of beer twice a week at their Arcadia location. And being a true distillery, they also brew #Vodka, #Gin and #Rum, with soon-to-be-released #Vodka flavors of horseradish, grapefruit and jalapeno! The #Gin is a local’s favorite and is steeped with five botanicals (orange peel, lemon peel, juniper, cinnamon and coriander).

While “researching” distilleries, I also discovered that the homegrown cocktail culture here in Scottsdale has matured far beyond basic margaritas. The mixologists of today are the upscale versions of bartenders from yesteryear. They have combined craftsmanship with a bit of magic as they realize that the quality of a drink is superior to quantity. The use of better ingredients has changed the game of spirits into a whole new industry. There is a big difference between a cocktail made with a can of grapefruit and one made with a freshly-squeezed one. In fact, the development of mixology has transformed the entire spirits industry. Just as a sommelier specializes in all the aspects of wine, mixologists create craft cocktails with local and homemade ingredients to make them taste fresh, innovative, and cutting edge.

I located several progressive cocktail menus that were brimming with farm-fresh and from-scratch ingredients, all of which will make even a cocktail connoisseur swoon. Many menus had house-made light syrups and house-infused spirit as well.

O.H.S.O Brewery

Bloody Mary | $ 11

O.H.S.O.’s #Vodka and house-made bloody Mary mix, garnished with lemon and lime wedges, olives and a homemade beef jerky stick

Jade Bar at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort

Cantaloupe | $14

Tito’s Vodka, watermelon liqueur, and fresh orange and lime juices, garnished with cantaloupe balls

Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho

The Liz | $12

Milagro Blanco Tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice and serrano vanilla simple syrup, garnished with cucumber and cilantro

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Bear Witness | $11

Kikori Whiskey shaken with traumatic intent, fresh grapefruit, lemon, yuzu marmalade and pinkie peppercorn honey syrup garnished with a bushel of dill 

Mbar at Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia

Copper City Sour | $16

AZ Distilling Co.’s Copper City Bourbon*, Velvet Falernum, fresh grapefruit, egg whites and Mi Casa bitters, garnished with grapefruit zest

Onyx Bar & Lounge at Four Seasons Scottsdale

Prickly Pear Margarita | $12

Partida Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, sweet ‘n’ sour, and prickly pear syrup, garnished with a lime wedge