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Fifth Annual Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition Celebrates Phoenix Cocktail Culture & Friendly Competition At Crescent Ballroom, Sunday, February 9th, 2:00 PM
On the judging panel, we will feature last year’s winner, Kyle Landry of Shady’s Fine Ales and Cocktails, Layla Linn from the Arizona chapter of the U.S. Bartending Guild, and seasoned mixologist, Jason Asher. Attendees who sample each cocktail may cast their vote as well, which will factor into the contestants’ overall scores. The winner will gain bragging rights for a year and receive two tickets to the Devoured Food + Wine Classic (March 1 and 2, 2014).
Tickets are $20 and, in addition to admission, include one sample of each beverage crafted—seven samples total. The event will feature three live acoustic music sets, and two energy-infused rounds of high-stakes mixology, emceed by the Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty. The Crescent Ballroom bar and restaurant will remain open for business during the event, and we strongly encourage patrons to support their local venue. T-shirts, sponsored by Brand X T-Shirts, will also be available to purchase this year for $10 each.
For the first time, word of mouth interest drove more bartenders to us to compete than there was space. This year, we held our first round of eliminations via social media and had fans vote for their favorite bartenders during the month of December. By December 31st, fans had selected seven bartenders from some of Phoenix’s finest cocktail establishments, including Manny Pena of Windsor, Evan Gibbs of Maizie’s Cafe, Matt Tobey of District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, Zachariah Gillespie of Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Joshua James of The Clever Koi, Michael Allmandinger of Parlor Pizzeria, and Ryan Richardson and Kazimierz World Wine Bar. All seven are ready to get up on stage and shake their finest creations.
Tickets: $20 via Crescent Ballroom
Gone are the days of the idea of brunch conjuring images of chattering ladies, fine hats, exquisite china and erect pinky fingers. While tradition still honors Mom once each year, survey the masses and you’ll find people of all ages taking the opportunity to sleep in, recover and strategically choose a meal, or dare we say drink, that will comfortably help them transition back into the idea of Monday.
But where to go? Here’s just a smattering of downtown brunch hotspots we’ve turned to in such moments, in no particular order. Feel free to add your favorite, whether place, dish, drink or deal.
We’re skipping the mimosa here and going straight for the tequila. Barrio Café’s version of a Bloody Mary, Sangrita, may be just what one might need after a hard day’s night. Serve it up with live music like Barrio Café does and the morning is set.
Served: Sunday, 11am-3pm
POSTINO on Central
The team known for their tasty assortment of crusty bread with various toppings has seamlessly transferred the idea to their brunch menu. Find artisan breads (country bread, grilled focaccia, ciabatta, marble rye) paired with our favorite morning indulgences like Italian ham, berry preserves, herbed butter, vanilla crème fraîche, gruyère cheese and more.
Served: Saturday and Sunday 9am-1pm
CIBO URBAN PIZZERIA AND CAFÈ
It might be a crime in Italy to not have something with Nutella on it for your colazioné in the morning, but it would definitely be a crime here in Phoenix to not experience Cibo’s saltimbocca – and their brunch is a great place to do so. Their bubbly, chewy and crispy signature bread lends itself so perfectly to their soft-scrambled eggs that it is just impossible to miss out. For those who are still worried about being booked for missing the Nutella, try it on the side with your Cornetti while dunking into a cappuccino.
Served: Saturday and Sunday, 10am-2pm
The best place to go with the most classic of choices is always the place that prides itself on ‘round the corner ingredient sourcing. St. Francis does and it shows in their American Breakfast. We suggest opting for their super-fluffy scrambled eggs and side of parmesan, sage and rosemary Fingerling Potatoes that arrive with lemon aioli and Mexican ketchup.
Served: Saturday 10am-2:30pm, Sunday 9am-2:30pm
FEZ ON CENTRAL
Famous for their kisra, FEZ recommends sharing their egg, bacon and tomato brunch version of the herbed flat bread with a friend. If that’s just not quite enough for the both of you, we’re thinking their FEZ Breakfast Pasta filled with Linguiça sausage, peppadew peppers and parmesan cheese alongside $3 cocktails sounds like fun too.
Served: Saturday and Sunday at 10am
Something for the health-conscience, something for the indulgent and a Bloody Mary Bar for the something-in-between means Windsor has it all. Try the Quinoa Oatmeal with mascarponè and dried fruit or the Homemade Doughnut Holes and delve into the $5 cocktails and “Pitchas of Beer.” That’s right: $5 Pitchers.
Served: Saturday and Sunday 9am-1pm
MAIZIE’S CAFÉ AND BISTRO
The menu at Maizie’s is the perfect balance of traditional offerings and new additions. The Corned Beef Benedict would satisfy those who prefer the savory side of things and the Banana Bread French Toast, for those who love the sweet. Top either off with a prosecco-meets-limoncello, Lemon Fizz Mimosa.
Served: Saturday 9am-2pm, Sunday 9am-4pm
MATT’S BIG BREAKFAST
We love this experience from beginning to end. Entering Matt’s is a throwback in time and the menu consistently keeps that promise. Try anything from The Hog and Chick to The Chop and Chick to simply the big bowl of Frosted Flakes complemented by a refillable cup of coffee sourced from Cave Creek and you’ll leave satisfied.
Served: Tuesday-Sunday 6:30am-2:30pm
BLUE HOUND KITCHEN and COCKTAILS
Housemade Mozzarella and berries to start your day? Is a 16-day dry-aged ribeye with eggs more your thing? Blue Hound has that and more, PLUS a weekly rotating menu of $5 Brunch Punch. We’re eyeballing the Kentucky Fried Sandwich and Salt-Roasted Baby Beets but that’s just us.
Served: Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm
Have a favorite brunch spot not listed here? Let us know!
I decided to brave Phoenix’s version of a hurricane to venture out and try one of our supposed best kept secrets: the $3 burger at Maizie’s.
Tucked away in the shadow of the Landmark Tower resides Maizie’s Café & Bistro, a unique bistro that knows how to attract the hungry — offer their delicious burgers for $3 from 4 to close on Mondays. I had heard that these were pretty amazingly good. I must admit that the line coming out of the door and the smell emanating from this place surely comforted any trepidation I had about the burgers.
I suppose the chaotic weather kept the crowds a little smaller than they normally are. Hearsay was that the wait would be quite extensive, but we were seated fairly quickly. The wait staff obviously holds the ability to read minds; or they have just served up their fair share of burgers on Monday nights, because the waitress only needed to ask what was required on the burger. So, I selected the pepperjack cheese and a cold Blue Moon to wash it down.
As I was awaiting my cheap treat, I noticed the dining area was extremely packed. It seems that the extensive patio that Maizie’s possesses falls silent on nights of inclement weather. Good thing this is Arizona and rain is about as frequent as a viable Elvis sighting.
The wait for the burger was not too long. As it arrived in its splendor, I almost expected an angelic chorus to erupt. For $3, I was expecting a Krystal (or White Castle, for you Midwestern folk)-sized burger, but I was pleasantly surprised. I could hardly wait to sink my teeth in. Each bite was better than the first. Any form of ravenous hunger I had owned before this was wiped away. This burger was top-shelf quality with a shoestring budget price.
So, if you find yourself scraping the bottom of the piggy bank on some lonely Monday night, forget about the fast food malarkey and go to Maizie’s. You will definitely get more than you bargained for.
Maizie’s Café and Bistro is located at 4750 N. Central Ave. in Uptown (light rail station at Central/Camelback). 602.274.2828
For the past four years, Shaun and Brady Breese have brought smiles to the residents of Central Phoenix with their Urban Cookies bakery. Their secret to success has included a mixture of high-quality ingredients, unique gift packaging and passion for their customers and community. But, perhaps the most important ingredient that they sell is happiness. “Cookies and cupcakes make people feel good,” says Shaun.
Shaun and Brady are pretty much Arizona natives; Shaun has been here since she was 3 and Brady since he was 6. They met in grade school, followed each other to high school and then to ASU. After graduating, they worked in various Central Phoenix neighborhoods, Brady working as a life insurance agent and Shaun working in marketing, including a stint at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
In 2005, Shaun and Brady had an idea to start a business. By November, they had secured a deal with the Florence Crittenton Center to use their kitchen facilities in the evening. In exchange for using the Crittenton baking facilities in the evening, the Breeses agreed to train at-risk girls in the kitchen as well as in marketing and customer service. For the first year, they kept their day jobs, working at night. During that time, they only sold their goods online. On weekends, they went out to the community and began giving samples at the historic home tours in Central Phoenix neighborhoods such as Willo and Encanto-Palmcroft. They also began selling their cookies at the Saturday Downtown Phoenix Public Market.
The Breeses found that these samples and local sales encouraged their business to spread virally through word of mouth — still their best way to get new business. In 2006, they opened their first retail store next to Melrose Pharmacy in the Wagon Wheel building just down 7th Avenue from the where they baked their cookies at Florence Crittenton. In 2007, they found they needed a bigger space and wanted their own kitchen, so they moved to their current location on 7th Street near Highland Avenue. Consistent with Shaun and Brady’s vision, their storefront is not only hip, but also green, featuring bamboo flooring and low-emission paint. As well, the ’50s-era building is a classic example of adaptive reuse. Previous tenants included a café and pizzeria.
Shaun and Brady have always enjoyed living in Central Phoenix, so it was natural to open a business here. There is also financial motivation for being in Central Phoenix. The Urban Cookies “brand” speaks to those living in and around Central Phoenix (their most-trafficked ZIP code for their online business is 85020, in North Central Phoenix). Another draw of Central Phoenix was that retail leases were more affordable near Downtown than in the strip malls further out. While they do not have the benefit of the foot traffic that the strip malls offer, they are able to make up for this through their online sales (another example of the benefits of a diversified business model).
Despite the poor economy, the couple has managed to keep their business growing. A decline in higher-end gift box sales has been offset by increased retail sales. “Even in this economy, $1.99 is an affordable break from the ordinary for people,” notes Shaun. This points to the importance of diversity for small businesses, especially in this economy. What started out as a completely online endeavor has morphed into a business model that is now about 50% online and 50% retail through growth and various efforts to weather these tough economic times.
Urban Cookies is always looking for new business ideas and partnerships. It recently began selling cupcakes, affectionately coined “OllieCakes” after Shaun and Brady’s 8-month-old son, Oliver. They have also added two layer cakes to their retail selection. During the summer, they offer ice cream cakes to their retail patrons, and have also begun selling organic dog treats. In addition, they are entering the wholesale market, providing cookies to the recently opened Urban Wine Bar and Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Market. They are also approaching other restaurants and grocery stores around town and offering catering for parties and business meetings.
Currently, Urban Cookies offers four different types of cookies, as well as four types of cupcakes. As well, each month, they feature unique seasonal items. For November they are offering a pumpkin pecan cookie and a cranberry orange cupcake. For Christmas, they are bringing back the popular coco-mint cookie. This holiday season, Urban Cookies is partnering with Danielle Librera and Brian Coonce at the Sweet Pea Bakery to offer pies and tarts to their customers. In addition, they sell a variety of custom gift boxes, small “signature” gifts and individually wrapped favor gifts. These gifts have become popular for business clients, birthday gifts or simple pick-me-ups for somebody who’s had a bad day. OllieCakes have quickly become popular for baby and toddler birthdays.
Urban Cookies’ notion of Central Phoenix community extends to local businesses as well. Proud members of Local First Arizona, they work together with other nearby independently owned businesses through cross promotions, joint events and business referrals. It is important to have a network, says Shaun, although she notes that this network is being challenged by the economy, and lists of several small businesses that have recently closed, including Lisa G and Palatte. Meanwhile, they are happy to see the growing conglomeration of new independent business near Central and Camelback, including Maizie’s Cafe & Bistro, Lola Coffee, Oliver and Annie and Smeeks, among others.
Some examples of how local businesses are working together include publications such as the Small Wonders map, as events such as Local First Arizona’s Certified Local Fall Festival at Duck and Decanter, a “Champagne and Shopping” event at nearby Roots Salon, as well as TwitterHunt. During First Friday on December 4, Urban Cookies will be participating in “Sweets Alley” as part of the second annual “Crafeteria” being hosted by Frances Boutique in their parking lot near Central and Camelback.
In their limited free time, the Breeses enjoy spending time with their son at local treasures, such as the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, or feeding the ducks at Granada Park. Oliver also enjoys playing on the grass and people watching at the Biltmore Fashion Center. “After hanging out with us all week in the store, he’s excited to see other people and places,” notes Shaun. When Shaun and Brady are looking for more grown-up fare they like heading to Bomberos Café and Wine Bar, which is within walking distance from their home, or Aiello’s, a favorite for Italian food.
You can meet Shaun, Brady and Oliver at the Urban Cookies retail store (602.451.4355), located at 4711 N. 7th St. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Online orders can be placed here.
It’s hard to make a buck in this sour economy, so most of us just sit and complain about it on Twitter all day. Luckily, Haus Modern Living owner Lew Gallo thought of a clever way to bring the two concepts together — spending money at deserving local businesses and tweeting while doing it. He’s introducing TwitterHunt. The concept is pretty simple and fun, and it only requires that you want to spend some cash and have a Twitter account. Here’s the scoop.
Twelve local businesses will be participating in the event on November 12 (Haus, Oliver & Annie, Stinkweeds, Urban Cookies, Postino, Lisa G, Hula’s Modern Tiki, Gallo Blanco Café, Maizie’s, Frances, Red Hot Robot and Smeeks). This is how it works:
- At 4 p.m. all of the businesses participating in the TwitterHunt will be sending out their first tweet instructing all of their followers to go to one of three businesses to begin.
- When you arrive at the first business, you make a purchase and receive an envelope marked either A, B or C that contains a prize to be redeemed at another store in the hunt. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE OR THE PRIZE IS VOID!
- At 5 p.m. you will receive the next tweet that lets you know which store to go to based on your marked envelope.
- When you arrive at the next business, you hand the envelope to the cashier and they will open it and give you your prize.
- To stay in the hunt, you then make a purchase at that store and receive another envelope marked A, B or C that works the same way. Wait until 6 p.m. to find out which store to proceed to next and claim your prize. The tweets will be sent out every hour on the hour from 4 until 8 p.m. — that’s 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. TwitterHunt is over at 10 p.m.
For more information, become a fan of TwitterHunt on Facebook.