The Devour Phoenix Coalition is celebrating 10 years of Devour Culinary Week. Ran by Local First Arizona, it’s a week where all the amazing restaurant and bars come together to show the valley what they have to offer.
The week kicks off with the Devour Bartending Competition and it’s probably our favorite part of the week. We have been lucky enough to be a sponsor for the event for the last three years by providing the secret ingredient for the final round. Instead of giving the bartenders a mixer that they probably already know, Matt creates a new flavor that has never been seen before. This is how Meyer Lemon Balm came to be one of our rotating seasonal flavors! We started with just a small batch for the event and it was so popular, we decided to keep it around when Meyer lemons were in season. Last year we featured Kumquat Peppercorn made with fresh, local kumquats infused with pink peppercorn for a super citrusy, pallet tingling flavor.
Every year we try to find local ingredients to feature and we honestly leave it up to the universe to point us in the direction of flavor. This is where Cactus Kelly comes in, our new favorite vendor. We started getting our prickly pear nectar from her this year but that’s not all she does. She forages for all sorts of ingredients and she is the kind of vendor that is always giving us unique samples. She gave us a little jar of mesquite juice which comes from pods of a mesquite tree that are juiced to create a smokey, earthy liquid. This is what inspired the secret ingredient for this year’s Devour Bartending Competition.
Paired with Arizona dates grown at Agritopia in Gilbert and tart tamarind, Matt created Mesquite Date to challenge the bartenders in the final round. This mixer has texture and body. It’s rich like apple pie with seasonal winter notes. The sweetness from the date is cut by the tamarind making a unique flavor that we’d yet to experience in an Iconic mixer.
Like always, we have made a small batch of Mesquite Date for home bartenders to create their own competition worthy cocktails. You can snag your own bottle online before the batch runs out. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good! This small batch of mixers has limited information on the label so we encourage you to be creative. But we have a treat for you. We chatted with Samantha Williams from Windsor who took home the win this year and she shared her cocktail from the final round with us. You can try the #88 at the Devour Culinary Festival this Saturday if you have a ticket or you can recreate this at home!
The No. 88
3/4oz Iconic Mesquite Date
1/2oz Iconic Spiced Honey
1 barspoon Orange Blossom raw honey
2 dashes Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters
-Start by adding 1 barspoon Orange Blossom raw honey, muddled with 1 orange slice and 2 dashes chocolate bitters in a mixing glass
-Add Tequila, Mesquite Date, Spiced Honey
-Stir & serve on the rocks in a short glass
-Garnish with dehydrated pineapple flowers
This is a great recipe for inspiration! Mesquite Date would also shine with any dark spirit like whiskey or dark rum. Open up the flavors by stirring or shaking your cocktail with ice. Try it in an Old Fashioned by replacing a sugar cube or make a Mezcal Margarita. Grab a bottle of Mesquite Date online or pick it up from the markets. Be on the look out for the 2020 Devour Bartending Competition! We can’t wait to see what we end up making!