Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Borderlands Bacchanal to Host Two Days of Free Music, Art, Comedy and More

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 12:27 PM

Joe Pagac's new mural at Borderlands is just some of the great art featured at the Bacchanal. - JOE PAGAC / FACEBOOK
  • Joe Pagac / Facebook
  • Joe Pagac's new mural at Borderlands is just some of the great art featured at the Bacchanal.

Google defines the word bacchanal as "an occasion of wild and drunken revelry" (please don't look up what Webster's defines it as), and Borderlands' first ever Bacchanal promises to be just that. With two days of totally free music, art, comedy and, of course, beer (the beer isn't so free), the brand new community event will feature a range of entertainment options on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. 

The event kicks off at Borderlands Brewing Co., located at 119 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday at noon where attendees can peruse works of art from a range of Tucson artists. Organizer Ryan Malco says the event is an opportunity for them to showcase pieces from locals who might rarely get the chance to be seen otherwise.

"This community has so many wonderful artists who don't get opportunity to show their work," Malco says. "Borderlands is very happy to offer Tucson's artists a place to be seen by the community."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ermanos Might Be a Beer and Wine Bar First, But You Should Definitely Eat There Too

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Gnocchi with cheese and poblanos at Ermanos. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Gnocchi with cheese and poblanos at Ermanos.

Owner Mark Erman of Ermanos made it pretty clear in his interview with us in a previous article that his new bar was in fact a bar first and not a restaurant. However, with a menu touting locally sourced ingredients, seasonal selections and unique flavor combinations, it seemed like this bar was promising some of the best bar food in town.

The Zip Burger is all about the sauce. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • The Zip Burger is all about the sauce.
Starting off with the Zip burger, which is just $7 during happy hour and late night (Tuesday-Sunday: 2 - 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close), I was immediately impressed. For a "not restaurant," Ermanos certainly has other restaurants in town beat on the burger front. The moist, tender Double Check Ranch beef patty was thick and flavorful, accented perfectly with the house "Zip sauce"—a savory blend of soy and worcestershire sauces, butter and herbs that's been reduced and intensified. It's the kind of burger you'll be thinking about for a few days after you eat it. I could go for another right now, in fact.

Anyways, after that first successful taste, my table decided to kind of just go for it, ordering dish after 
Flatbread with chorizo and Oaxaca cheese. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Flatbread with chorizo and Oaxaca cheese.
dish because that burger blew us all away.

The gnocchi and cheese with poblano chiles and herbs ($10) came in a small, hot cast iron dish. The flavor was similar to a standard mac and cheese, but the pillowy gnocchi gave the finished product more interesting texture.

The meatballs ($10) used the same Double Check Ranch beef that made the burger stand out and it's that attention to sourcing that really makes Ermanos' food much more than bar food. Using quality ingredients and augmenting them with stimulating spicing 
Double Check Ranch meatballs. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Double Check Ranch meatballs.
combinations, which in the meatballs' case was orange, fennel pollen and whole grain corriander, allows those ingredients to take center stage, while still  Even the fries ($4), which were perfectly crispy, were served alongside a five spice spiked ketchup. Typically I forego ketchup, especially when they fries are good on their own, but the creative addition of five spice to the condiment made it tasty and exciting—much more than a ramekin of Heinz. 

In terms of beer, Mark's brother Eric Erman has done a great job of curating a list that features many different varieties and breweries. The staff was ready and willing to help with suggestions, should you have difficulty deciding as well. Some of the best brews I tried from that first visit were the Destihl Raspberry Berliner Weisse (a sour white beer tinted blush from the berries), Great Divide's Colette (a lightly vegetal farmhouse ale) and Dragoon's Pony Express (a complex and smoky American Pale Ale). But, with 34 taps total at Ermanos there's a lot more to try off the list—and that's not even getting into the wine selection. 

Really, the only way Ermanos isn't a restaurant is the fact that all service comes from behind the bar. Unfortunately that was also one of the only faults I found in the restaurant on that first visit. With a group of about six, someone else's tab was mixed into mine and removing those items off of my card took a bit of time. It's not exactly a major hinderance, but I did notice after I had left that I ended up being double charged for something anyways. Hopefully with time those glitches in the system will be worked out, allowing the bar and kitchen to shine as brightly as they do already.

Brewer Eric Erman curated the 34-tap beer list. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Brewer Eric Erman curated the 34-tap beer list.

Ermanos is open now at 220 N. Fourth Ave. Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 12 a.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. 

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Pasco Kitchen to Host a Mezcal-Centric Dinner

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 1:30 PM

click image Lamb + mezcal = sold. It's basic math, you guys. - PASCO KITCHEN / FACEBOOK
  • Pasco Kitchen / Facebook
  • Lamb + mezcal = sold. It's basic math, you guys.

Calling all agave distillate lovers. On Tuesday, April 14, Pasco Kitchen & Lounge will be putting on a special four course dinner celebrating the food of Oaxaca and it's smoky, sultry spirit: Mezcal.

The Noche Oaxaca dinner will feature four different dishes, including fideo with BBQ pork belly and shoulder as well as a spiced hot cocoa and corn cake with a crema de mezcal. Each course will be served with a paired mezcal varietal from Del Maguey's single village mezcals. Like wine and scotch, mezcal is highly variable based on terroir so this event will be a good opportunity to hone your palate to those subtle differences while eating dishes native to those regions as well. Here's the full menu:


Best of all, all four courses are just $30 plus tax and gratuity, which is kind of a steal when you look at what you'll be getting. You can pick up tickets to the special dinner event at Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, located at 820 E. University Blvd.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Yoga and Beer Finally Join Forces at Dragoon on Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Start practicing your upward pint pose. - COURTESY OF DRAGOON
  • Courtesy of Dragoon
  • Start practicing your upward pint pose.

On a few magical Saturdays, Dragoon Brewing Co. will join forces with Exude Yoga to present a super relaxing morning of stretching and brews known as Bakasana & Beer. This month, Saturday, April 4 is the day to head to the brewery, located at 1859 W. Grant Road Suite 111, for your beer and yoga.

While both are good on their own, the real reason to head to this special event series is that it's actually a really good deal. $5 cash gets you into the class and also gets you a beer, both of which run at $5 on their own typically. Plus, you can feel like you earned your local beer after burning a few calories in the Exude class.

Doors open at 10:30 a.m. for the class, which starts promptly at 10:45 a.m. and runs for an hour. The class is a bring your own mat event. Future Bakasana & Beer events are scheduled for May 2 and 16.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ermanos to Bring Craft Beer, Wine and a Killer Grilled Cheese to Fourth Avenue

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 12:32 PM

The interior of Ermanos is chic and clean, but still very relaxed. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • The interior of Ermanos is chic and clean, but still very relaxed.

Fourth Avenue is about to get a cool new spot for beer, wine and late night eats when Ermanos opens between 8th and 9th streets. Now, before you get all up in arms that the name misspells the word brother in Spanish, you should know that it's a play on the brothers Mark and Eric Erman's last name. Feel better? Alright, let's continue.

The Erman brothers have dreamed of opening their bar for about ten years. Sitting in their beautiful restaurant just a few days before opening and the night before they train their staff, it's clear that Eric is getting a little choked up.

  • Heather Hoch
"I can't believe we're here," he says, looking around at the back lounge area. It's furnished with comfy black leather chairs and a large homey rug. 

Eric worked as a commercial brewer in Colorado for seven years while his brother was an environmental lawyer, eventually moving to Tucson with his wife to enjoy the climate.

After a few hiccups in figuring out their new space (it technically encompasses two addresses on two different streets—good thing Mark is a lawyer), they began exhaustively renovating the space—exposing the building's brick walls and skylight and repurposing the wood that was removed for dividing walls and tables.

"This wood is from the '20s. You can see the saw marks on the boards," Mark says, touching a new wall made from the building's reclaimed wood. "Our carpenter said that back then they would only fell trees for lumber that were over 100 years old so that means this wood came from a tree that was from the 1800s at least."

A large communal booth, more private nooks, bar seating and a patio offer a range of options for seating. 

Reclaimed wood from the building gives it a historic, authentic touch. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Reclaimed wood from the building gives it a historic, authentic touch.

With the finishing touches being put into place for the building, Eric discusses his plan for the beer program. You can expect 34 draft handles and a selection of over 150 bottles and cans of beer. He's also excited that Public Brew House will soon be open in the back courtyard area, brewing craft beer just feet from Ermanos' back patio.

"We wanted to build on the great beer community here," Eric says. "The scene has just exploded."

For wine, the team brought in a friend from Michigan named Anya Linda. Her goal is to incorporate a list of wines that are both accessible and drinkable but also feature more esoteric varieties to expose guests to new things. She hopes in the future to hold special tasting events in the lounge area as well, such as local vintner features and a popcorn and champagne night. 

"This place is the epitome of a labor of love," Linda says. "It's special and I think it will be the sort of place that anyone can come to."

Of course, it isn't all about the booze. Although Ermanos doesn't plan to offer full table service, a menu of "upscale garstropub" fare will be served for lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night. Using seasonal, local ingredients, many of the menu items, such as the soup and salad, will change regularly.

However, chef David Valencia Jr. knows the Zip Burger, made with a special sauce of soy sauce, worcestershire, butter, herbs and more, will be a menu staple. His right hand man, Jesus Cayeros, also made a grilled cheese for the menu that combines five cheeses and a sweet, tangy onion jam that the whole crew agreed would be a favorite.

The menu also features small tapas-style sharable plates for dinner, including chicken lollipops with a seasonal BBQ sauce, flatbread with chorizo and Oaxaca cheese and gnocchi with cheese, poblano and herbs, to reinforce the casual atmosphere.

The front tap system will have 24 handles. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • The front tap system will have 24 handles.

Mark Erman says he wanted his bar to be a bar first with the feel of an indoor beer garden. He plans to have live music weekly once they open.

Ermanos is planning to be officially open on Wednesday, April 1 for full service. The restaurant's hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 12 a.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. with happy hour and late night menu deals. You can follow Ermanos on Facebook for more information and updates on the space.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Booze Cupcakes are the Way to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Shutterstock

I'm not much of a holiday lady. I don't decorate for Christmas or Halloween, I don't watch the fireworks on July 4 and I am wearing exactly zero green things today*. And while I do love it when drinking is encouraged, there's no way I'm cramming myself into a bar tonight. That sounds crowded and terrible, and green beer isn't much of a consolation prize.

But you know what does sound like a good time? Boozy cupcakes. Mother Nature Network—a website I have never visited before, but whose food section is winning me over with vegetarian breakfast lists and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt companion cocktails—presents a recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting:
For cupcakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch table salt
6 ounces stout beer
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream

For the icing
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
3-4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the stout, melted butter and vanilla together.
Beat the eggs into the stout mixture, one at a time. Then mix in the sour cream.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time until it’s all mixed together thoroughly.
Lightly grease 12 muffin tins (or use non-stick spray or cupcake liners). Pour the batter evenly into the tins.
Bake from 18-24 minutes, checking at 18 minutes and continuing to bake until they are set in the middle.
Allow to cool.
While cooling, make the icing.
Combine the softened cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer (hand or stand mixers will both work). Add the confectioners sugar and mix. Slowly add the Baileys and mix until icing is the desired consistency.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost with icing.
Grab an apron, cancel your bar plans, and get drunk at home where the booze is free and the cupcakes aren't for children.

*Pinch at your own risk. I'm a kicker.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Coffee, Tiki and Flips Found on Scott & Co.'s New Cocktail Menu

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Coffee and scotch make this cocktail's flavor unforgettable. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Coffee and scotch make this cocktail's flavor unforgettable.

Scott & Co. is debuting a new cocktail menu next week and a sneak peak showed a focus on bright, exotic flavors, bitter liqueurs and an egg white or two. Overall, the menu seemed well-suited for spring and summer drinking, with most options being shaken, light and juicy drinks that range in price from $10 to $14. 

  • Heather Hoch
During the tasting, bartender Rik Evans explained that many of the cocktail's elements are crafted especially for the drinks. This includes a pipe tobacco-infused tincture, macadamia orgeat, roasted coconut water syrup, and a plum sauce made with soy sauce for a savory kick.

Several of the drinks included saline drops to balance flavors and mellow out some of the more bitter components. This technique was most aptly utilized in the Giant Slayer, a drink made by Matt Martinez that was one of the day's best offerings. The bold drink combined coffee-infused Dewars, Ardbeg Islay scotch, Cherry Heering, Creme de Cacao, saline and an entire egg. 

One of the event's most unexpected standouts was the Slow Slipper, which was green in color with a bright green screwpine milk float that reminded me instantly of Hi-C's Ghostbuster-themed Ecto-Cooler. (Bring back Ecto-Cooler, Hi-C!) With a sweet base of Mt. Gay rum and Giffard banana liqueur, the drink was balanced out by a lovely roasted coconut water syrup. The cocktail looked absolutely nothing like it tasted, showcasing the playfulness of the new menu.

There were definitely a few other drinks that had tiki elements too. The Shore Leave used arrack, Evans' plum sauce, Cocchi Barolo and a rosemary tincture. Topped with club soda, the drink, which could've been intense and heavy, was light and refreshing with a depth on the back. The Loki's Travel was an interesting blend of aquavit, green Chartreuse, macadamia orgeat, pineapple juice, lime juice and a tobacco tincture. Served over crushed ice, the drink started sweet and bright—almost like cotton candy, but finished more complex once diluted. 

  • Heather Hoch
Although not all of the cocktails exhibited a strong balance of flavor, the menu as a whole was a work in experimentation, getting back to what Scott & Co. became known for in this town. For a bar that kickstarted the careers of many of the town's top folks behind the stick, it's nice to see the small speakeasy-like spot carrying on the tradition and pulling in and nurturing new talent.

You can check out Scott & Co.'s new cocktail menu beginning next week at 49 N. Scott Ave. The bar is open Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. until midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hang Out with Other Homebrewers This Weekend at Dragoon

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 1:30 PM

click image Sip on some brews with your fellow homebrewers. - DRAGOON BREWING CO. / FACEBOOK
  • Dragoon Brewing Co. / Facebook
  • Sip on some brews with your fellow homebrewers.

If you fancy yourself a garage-side brewmaster and you're looking to mingle with like-minded hop heads, mosey on over to Dragoon Brewing Co., located at 1859 W. Grant Road Suite 111, for a special meeting of the American Homebrewers Association. 

As part of a national series of AHA rallies, the homebrewing organization is dropping into Dragoon for a special VIP tour of the brewery and a meet and greet with some of its brewers. After that, the group of amateur brewers and beet enthusiasts will test out different samples on tap and possibly even when a prize from Dragoon or the AHA. 

The AHA brewery rally takes place on Saturday, March 7 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The rally is free for current AHA members. If you aren't a member, you can join online or sign up for a discounted member rate at the Rally. Either way, you can RSVP to attend on the AHA website.

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