Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grab Your Pager and a Neon Windbreaker and Get Ready for the '90s Bar Crawl

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 4:00 PM


In the mood for a little nostalgia—and vodka? Plan to go to the '90s Bar Crawl this Saturday, Aug. 6.

The crawl will stop in at a plethora of downtown bars (Elliott's on Congress, Batch Cafe & Bar, Highwire Lounge, R Bar, Playground, O'Malley's, Borderlands Brewing Co., the Surly Wench, Maloney's, Che's Lounge, Mr. Heads, Sky Bar and the Hut), all of which will be blasting '90s tunes and giving out "goodies." 

Registration starts at the Hut (305 N. 4th Avenue) at 6 p.m. The Bar Crawl itself will run fro 8 p.m. to midnight, followed by an afterparty at the Hut from midnight to 2 a.m.

Your $20 registration fee gets you food and drink specials, into the afterparty and goes (in part) to support Pima Paws for Life.

So work on your outfit (there's a costume contest) and dance moves (and a running man contest). Tickets are available online.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Public Brewhouse Celebrates a Year of Great Beer

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 1:31 PM

Mike Gura measures grain for a new batch of beer while patrons share a drink in the background. - NICHOLAS A. JOHNSON
  • Nicholas A. Johnson
  • Mike Gura measures grain for a new batch of beer while patrons share a drink in the background.

Local nanobrewery Public Brewhouse is celebrating its one year anniversary.

It took Mike Gura and Cody Van Haren, the two head brewers and owners at Public, three years to open up their brewery. The two met while working as EMTs on an ambulance together and have been brewing together for five years now. The idea to open a brewery originated in 2012, and was a full-fledged goal a year later. In November 2013 Gura started a Kickstarter, which raised $36,000 for the brewery.

After two years of dealing with zoning codes, licensing and certification the nanobrewery was able to open up in August 2015.

Gura began brewing 13 years ago in Utah, mainly out of necessity.

“The alcohol laws in Utah were such that you couldn’t buy good beer,” Gura said. You had to buy beer from the state liquor store, you had to buy singles, and it was always warm. The selection wasn’t very good and the beer was always gross, because it got skunk from being hot.”

Instead of committing a long drive to Colorado for good beer Gura decided to start brewing his own. The passion he developed for the process is evident to those around them.

“When a new shipment of hops comes in they're like kids in a candy store,” Christa Weidenschilling, a bartender at Public said. “Mike and Cody will talk about beer for hours and hours. They’ll point out the differences in grain and hops. You really learn a lot working here.”

That sense of community isn't an accident.

“Our name, Public, comes from the idea that a pub is a public house. We really wanted to create an environment people feel comfortable coming into," Gura said. "I think we provide a service that people appreciate. We have a lot of regulars from the neighborhood, which is exactly what we wanted. Local people coming in and having conversations, and sharing stories."

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Monday, July 25, 2016

The Lowdown on Sonoran Brews

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The giants of Arizona craft beer are coming together with Edible Baja Arizona to bring the good people of Tucson the mother of all tasting events: the Baja Brews Project.

Twelve local craft breweries are converging on Borderlands Brewing Co. (119 E. Toole Ave.) on Thursday, July 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. to show off their latest creations created for the event using locally originating ingredients. For this first round, beers made with saguaro and prickly pear fruit will take center stage. Your $15 ticket also goes right to Tucson non-profits working to improve food security in the community including Desert Harvesters, Native Seeds/SEARCH Iskashitaa Refugee Network and Trees for Tucson.

If you can't make it to this first event there's no need to fret, the Baja Brews Project is a yearlong collaboration between Edible Baja Arizona and everyone's favorite regional craft breweries. Count on many more tastings and beer exploration in the coming months, where you can sample, schmooze with the brewers and get educated on the ever-expanding local craft brewing scene.

For more information on the event and to check out the entire tasting list with notes, look for the Facebook event page. In the meantime, keep calm and drink local. 

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Glass of Punch May Pack a Punch, But the Two Have Nothing in Common (Etymologically Speaking, Anyway)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 6:21 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
I picked up Henry Fielding's novel, Tom Jones, once again after putting it down in the middle and moving on to other things. Back in April, I noted my surprise at finding that the phrases "ass kicking" and "ass kissing" were alive and well in the 18th century. In the part I'm reading now, our hero and others are on the move and stopping at inns along their way, and they frequently drink "punch" in the evenings. I wondered, is "punch" just a random alcoholic concoction in a punch bowl, or does it refer to something more specific? The answer is, it was a specific type of drink in the same way as, for example, a martini. It's of semi-exotic origins, as is its name.

Here are the basic ingredients, according to an online source, which are similar to ones described elsewhere.
In the beginning, punch was a simple mixture of five canonical ingredients: lemon or lime juice, sugar, water, "spice" (which could have been anything from nutmeg or tea to ambergris, a musky whale secretion now used only in perfume making), and, of course, liquor. Batavia arrack, a fiery but highly aromatic molasses-and-rice distillate imported from the Dutch East Indies, was the preferred spirit, but Caribbean rum and French brandy were right behind it. The earliest known reference to the drink dates from 1632, appearing in a letter to an India-bound merchant from an English colleague, who strongly warned against drinking it (if punch has a fault, it's the ease with which one can absorb too much of it).

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tough Luck Club's Stephen Ott on the Art of a Summer Stirred Cocktail

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Mezcal and Irish whiskey play nice with sherry in Tough Luck's San Patricio. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Mezcal and Irish whiskey play nice with sherry in Tough Luck's San Patricio.

I tell the same joke a lot during winter when people ask me what my favorite seasonal cocktail is. "Cup of scotch," I say, and everyone laughs (at least, in my head they do). Anyway, the thing is, if you're the type of person who enjoys just cups of booze, stirred and served up, summer can be kind of a downer. A parade of fruity ingredients, floral liqueurs and more can make and liquor lover hesitant to dive into cocktail bar menus. However, that's not all you'll find on Tough Luck Club's new summer menu.

Sure, the volume, which is illustrated by artist Veronica Stice, features bright drinks like the Summer Lovin'—a mix of basil vodka, Riesling, watermelon syrup and lemon juice—or the Every Morning Coming Down with white rum, spicy green chile vodka, lemongrass syrup and lime juice with a turmeric tincture. But, even some of those fruit-forward drinks have some deeper notes. Case in point, the Midnight Rodeo, which offers cognac, red wine, salt and a grilled blackberry syrup. Bartender Stephen Ott says the drink reminds him of "nighttime in the summer."

Summer Lovin' is a refreshing drink, embellished with Riesling. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Summer Lovin' is a refreshing drink, embellished with Riesling.

Of the 15 drinks on the menu, six are dubbed "stirred and boozy." The trick to making a stirred cocktail that doesn't become burdensome to sip in the Tucson summer heat is the simple method of substitution. You can take the structure of a drink like a Manhattan or a Vieux Carre and switch out some of the heavier components, like sweet vermouth, for brighter liqueurs or sherry. The San Patricios does both, mixing mezcal and Irish whiskey with elderflower liqueur, amontillado and orange bitters. 

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Get Five Courses of Prep & Pastry Brunch (and Plenty of Beer) at Tucson Hop Shop

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 3:05 PM

There will be maple bacon dossants, of course. - PREP & PASTRY / FACEBOOK
  • Prep & Pastry / Facebook
  • There will be maple bacon dossants, of course.

Look, we all love brunch and many in town look to one restaurant to satisfy all their boozy breakfast needs. So many, in fact, that getting a table at the well-loved Prep & Pastry on the weekends can sometimes be a challenge. For those looking to get a taste of P&P without the wait, get your ticket now to the restaurant’s special collaboration with Tucson Hop Shop (3230 N. Dodge Blvd.).

On Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m., Prep & Pastry will be offering a five-course brunch at the beer bar and bottle shop, highlighting the beers of New Belgium Brewery. Dishes to be served include housemade cheddar-herb biscuits with duck fat and sausage gravy, a summery spinach salad with avocado and strawberry and maple bacon dossant (donut + croissant) bites. Local singer-songwriter Karima Walker will perform during the event. Guests will also have the chance to win Prep & Pastry gift certificates, New Belgium growlers and more.

The beer-paired brunch is limited to just 50 people with complementary and complimentary coffee provided by Presta Coffee Roasters. You can get a ticket, which are $45 per person, through the Tucson Hop Shop website

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

3rd Annual Sour Beer Fest at Tap & Bottle Showcases More Than 20 Tart Brews

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Pucker up, Tucson! - PYZATA
  • pyzata
  • Pucker up, Tucson!

The art of brewing beer sour has taken hold of the craft beer world and no event showcases this more in town than Tap & Bottle’s (403 N. Sixth Ave., #135) annual Sour Fest. Now in it’s third year, the two-day tap takeover of all things tart will showcase more than 20 different sour beers from all over the country.

Arizona brewers included in the event are 1912, Arizona Wilderness, Historic, Iron John’s and Fate, while national brew contributions come from Ninkasi, Funkwerks, Ballast Point, Stone, Firestone Walker and more.

Tap & Bottle’s weekend of sour beer kicks off on Saturday, May 21 at 11 a.m. with a sipping session led by Almanac Brewing’s Phillip Emerson. The tasting will offer six different Almanac beers. It is a ticket event with limited space, so send a message to for more information and to secure your spot.

Otherwise, you can just head into the bar on Saturday or Sunday to try out some of the many beers offered in the 3rd Annual Sour Fest.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Arizona Rosé Week Hits Good Oak Bar with Local Vintners and Plenty of the Pink Stuff

Posted By on Thu, May 12, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Pink wine is perfect for summer. - DOS CABEZAS / FACEBOOK
  • Dos Cabezas / Facebook
  • Pink wine is perfect for summer.
Arizona wines don’t get nearly the love they should. With new vintners popping up all the time, it’s pretty clear that vineyards can thrive in the Sonoran desert and elsewhere across the state. You can spend a whole week celebrating local wine over at Good Oak (316 E. Congress St.) when the bar presents Arizona Rosé Week.

With a little something to pique the interest of lovers of red and white, rosé exists as a happy middle ground, while being something completely on its own that happens to be perfect for warmer weather. Some, including Good Oak's Luke Anable, would peg them as " really good, fresh, quaffable wine."

Now, with six local wine makers such as Dos Cabezas, Rune and AZ Stronghold, you can navigate the world of rosé in the state through a unique, six-day event that spans from Monday, May 16 to Sunday, May 22. Arizona Rosé Week will also feature rosé flights ($14) and 20-percent off select bottles to go. 

Here's the week's line-up:

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Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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