Sipping Notes: Garrison Brothers Bourbon — A Taste of Texas

By Kathryn M. Miller

After an incredibly long, hot summer, that most magical time of the year in Arizona is finally (almost) here — patio weather. And what goes better with a lazy weekend at home than a tall glass of something adult and delightful. That’s where Garrison Brothers Bourbon comes in.

Garrison Brothers became the first legal bourbon distillery in Texas in 2010. Founded by Dan Garrison, this family run business makes award-winning bourbon “corn-to-cork” on their gorgeous ranch in Hye, Texas, one barrel at a time. Handcrafted from a sweet mash of premium, #1 food-grade corn, soft red winter wheat from local farms, and two row barley, Garrison Brothers “deliberately uses the highest-quality ingredients to create the highest- quality bourbon.”

Their award-winning bourbon is being served and sold throughout Phoenix and Scottsdale — as locations reopen, patrons may notice them on the menu at local establishments like Bourbon & Bones, Buck & Rider, Chambers and Citizen Public House.

They offer a small range of bourbons “from every day to extraordinary,” including Small Batch, Single Barrel, Balmorhea, The Cowboy, and their newest offering, HoneyDew (infused with 100 percent Texas-made Burleson’s wildflower honey).

Garrison Brothers is available for purchase at select local liquor stores in the Valley, as well as at Total Wine & More, BevMo and on their website: |CST

EDITOR’S PICKS: I got in touch with my Texas roots and sampled Garrison Brothers over Labor Day weekend. While this bourbon is great straight, we were feeling festive and tried some of the brand’s recipes: Texas Tea and Texas Breakfast. We were not disappointed! Garrison Brothers’ recipes are below, along with my own recipe for Tea Syrup using Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog tea. Cheers!



Lemon Peel & Tea Leaves

1.5 oz.Garrison Brothers Small Batch
.5 oz. Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Earl Grey, Bergamot or Black Tea Syrup*
Topo Chico

Add Garrison Brothers, lemon juice and tea syrup to a shaking tin and whip shake. Double strain in the collins glass over ice and top with Topo Chico. Garnish with a lemon peel and tea leaves.




Orange Peel & Bacon

1.5 oz. Garrison Brothers Small Batch
.5 oz. Lemon Juice
1 oz. Orange Juice
.5 oz. Maple Syrup
4 oz. Champagne

Add Garrison Brothers, lemon juice, orange juice and maple syrup to a shaking tin and whip shake. Double strain into a flute and top with champagne. Garnish with an orange peel and bacon.

*Here’s my recipe for Tea Syrup using the Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog blend, which takes Earl Grey, with its citrus notes of bergamot, and bumps it up a notch with the addition of lavender. It perfectly complements the lemon and the sweet, smoky, spicy notes of the Garrison Brothers Bourbon in the Texas Tea recipe.


1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons, Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog loose leaf tea

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

Drain the tea into a glass measuring cup and discard the used tea leaves. The leaves will have soaked up some of the water, so add additional water to return the volume to 1 cup.

Return the tea to the saucepan and add the sugar. Bring it to a low boil and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

The syrup can be refrigerated in a glass jar for about 1 month.

Kathryn M. Miller is editor-in-chief at CITYSunTimes. Reach her at

Fall Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out Kicks Off Sept. 18

Dining at Chauncey Social

St. Francis, Harissa half chicken

The Fall Arizona Restaurant Week (ARW) culinary event has been modified to meet new regulations due to COVID-19, but that is not dampening the spirits or the taste buds of Valley diners.

Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out returns for 10 days of culinary exploration, from Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 27.

“We feel not only gratitude but also great pride in the fact that the local dining community has showed up again and again in support of our industry since closures and limited re-opening mandates,” said Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) president and CEO Steve Chucri. “We are thrilled to see that dining out — whether that means in-restaurant or getting take-out — is still such an important part of people’s lives.”

The new Fall Arizona Restaurant Week: Dine In or Take Out will operate much like the June event, which debuted the modified format including dine-in, take out and liquor to-go options.

The event is intended to allow food enthusiasts to explore new culinary opportunities in any way that they feel comfortable dining while also giving restaurants and local chefs the economic support that they need now more than ever.

During the event, participating restaurants will follow all CDC guidelines regarding safety measures and limited dine-in capacity. Participating restaurants around the state will offer culinary adventurers dedicated menus that showcase local chefs’ creative talents through innovative dishes.

Featuring a unique tasting opportunity apart from their regular menus, restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person. Wine pairings to enhance each course are offered at some establishments for an additional cost.

Many diners’ favorites are returning for Fall ARW, and the ARA announced that new members are participating for the first time. The current line-up of nearly 80 restaurants can be found online. Visit

Photos courtesy of Arizona Restaurant Week

Arcadia’s Nook Kitchen Reopens Sept. 9

Nook Kitchen celebrates the reopening of its doors today with a new menu that doubles down on its Italian favorites with a modern twist, created by the 2017 “Chopped” champion and restaurateur, chef Nick LaRosa, whose culinary specialties include house-made pastas, authentic Napolitano-style pizzas, double bone-in pork chops, vegetarian dishes and even a Nook Burger.

Nook Kitchen in Arcadia was open for only about four months after it relocated to a larger space in December 2019. Then COVID-19 hit and despite early attempts at takeout-only service, the Arcadia outbreak soon followed, and the Nook team decided to close through the summer.

Now, Nook Kitchen reopens at limited capacity — reservations are recommended. The refreshed menu has something for everyone in an Italian style using fresh ingredients at the talented hand of LaRosa.

“We’re excited and want to shout from the rooftops that ‘we’re back!’” LaRosa said. “And we’re really happy to be back, too. The time off has given us the opportunity to add new menu items, plus fantastic desserts and still focus on the dishes we know our patrons love.

“The specialness of our food is Italian with a twist. If you want to eat hearty, we’ve got it. If you’d rather eat light, we’ve got that too in spades.”

House-made pastas offer something for everyone. For the meat lover, the Casarecce Bolognese combines a hearty serving of beef, soppressata, tomato, herbs and parmesan. For vegetarians, the Veggie Campanelle features a symphony of roasted peppers, brussels, Calabrian chili, garlic, Chablis, shallot, braised leek with a touch of grape tomatoes. Other entrees include a pan-seared salmon, an arugula pesto grilled chicken, a double bone-in pork chop, and yes, even a burger ground from quality cuts of beef. Appetizers feature the popular Brussels Chips, Fire Roasted Olives and Arancini, to name a few.

Nook Kitchen is a modern American restaurant rooted in the Italian tradition, owned and operated by Frank Vairo, S. Barrett Rinzler, chef Nick LaRosa and Nicholas Winger. The restaurant is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 5–10pm; Friday and Saturday, 5–11pm. Happy Hour is Wednesday through Friday, 5–6pm.

Nook Kitchen is located at 4231 E. Indian School Road. Visit for more information.

Gabriella’s Contemporary American Cuisine Opens Today in Scottsdale

A sampling of the fare. Photo: Tim Fuchs; courtesy of Gabriella’s Contemporary American Cuisine

Husband-and-wife business partners Anthony and Anna Barr, have opened a new dining concept in Scottsdale that offers “an intimate and comfortable dining space in which to enjoy relatable yet artfully crafted cuisine for the whole family.”

“We are so excited to bring our upscale-yet-approachable cuisine to the diners of Scottsdale,” says co-founder Anna Barr. “We take much pride in every dish that comes out of our kitchen, and we’re dedicated to, and passionate about, creating memorable experiences through a welcoming atmosphere, spectacular service, and exceptional food.”

Gabriella’s menu features familiar American cuisine, including vegan and vegetarian selections, from chef Anthony Barr. Diners will find appetizers such as the Stuffed Cheese and Bacon Tater Tots; Sweet Corn and Wild Mushroom Tamale with cumin crema and avocado salsa; and Impossible Sloppy Joe Sliders with Daiya cheese. Featured salads include the Arugula and Frisée Salad and the Field of Greens. A Chef’s Soup of the Day is also available.

Menu mains consist of sandwiches such as the Short Rib Grilled Cheese with white cheddar on sourdough bread; Gabriella’s Crispy Chicken Bahn Mi with pickled vegetables, roasted jalapeno and cilantro aioli; and Dungeness Crab and Lobster Roll; Pastas and Grains from the Baked Creamy Pasta with baby scallops, heirloom tomatoes, torn basil and toasted brioche crumbs to the Pasta with Lemon Sage Marinated Grilled Chicken with broccolini, garden peas and white wine; and entrees including Grilled New York Steak with wild mushrooms and red wine demi served with garlic smashed potatoes and garden vegetables; Seasonal Risotto with garden vegetables, black truffle and parmesan cheese; and Grilled Fresh Catch with celeriac root puree, baby garden vegetables, maple lardons and orange miso glaze. Weekly specials, such as Tomahawk Tuesdays and Fried Chicken Fridays, are offered on select days.

Choices for the kids and a robust selection of desserts — Praline and Cream Crème Brulee, Strawberry Shortcake, and Hot Fudge Sundae, for example — round out the menu along with a full bar featuring local brews, house wine and specialty craft cocktails.

In accordance with state regulations and CDC guidelines, and to ensure safety of its guests, the restaurant is currently configured to offer limiting seating.

Gabriella’s debuts today, Aug. 28, and Saturday, Aug. 29, from 5–10pm. Located at 10155 E. Via Linda Road, #H134, the restaurant then reopens for service seven days a week, from 10am–10pm, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 1. The menu is available for dine-in and take-out. For more, visit

Michael Waltrip Launches ‘Two-Time’ Beer Brand

Yesterday, Michael Waltrip, two-time champion of the Daytona 500, announced the creation of a new brewing company based in Phoenix that bears his name.

The Michael Waltrip Brewing Company unofficially launched a portfolio of beers in late March. The beers will officially be available in several states starting in September under the brand name “Two-Time” Lagers & Ales.

Michael Waltrip

“I’m thrilled to be able to bring my beers to the market,” said Waltrip. “We are making the styles of beer that I love to drink whether I’m at the track, on the golf course or just relaxing. It’s going to be great to share my Two-Time creations with everyone.”

The company will be based in Phoenix and plans to open a production facility and taproom in the Metro area in late 2020. The company has begun to introduce the line of beers in other states as well.

The new Two-Time beer brand initially features a lineup of a “Blonde” ale; “Checkered Past,” a coconut India pale ale; and “Vamanos,” a Mexican-style lager, with new year-round and seasonal selections being added. Each of the beers has a special story behind it and some clever and subtle references to racing.

“The Two-Time brand is all about having fun and enjoying life, much like Michael himself. We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we’re very serious about our beer,” said Bryan R. Sperber, CEO.  “We are dedicated to making ‘better beer’ that beer drinkers can enjoy at their favorite spot or at home. We believe that a better life includes better beer.”

For more information, visit

Celebrate National Rum Day & Mai Tai Day at Hula’s Modern Tiki

National Rum Weekend lineup, L-R: Cuba Libre, Coco’s Paradise and Duke’s Daiquiri; Photos courtesy of Hula’s Modern Tiki

It has been a long, hot summer, and Hula’s Modern Tiki  wants to help Valley residents beat the heat this month by celebrating both National Rum Day (Aug. 16) and National Mai Tai Day (Aug. 30) with a trio of featured tiki cocktails. Hula’s is even extending both Rum Day and Mai Tai Day into a full weekend of festive fun.

Offered at all three of its locations (Uptown Phoenix, Downtown Scottsdale and High Street), National Rum Day will be extended from Friday, Aug. 14, through Sunday, Aug. 16. Served from open to close, enjoy three featured cocktails including the Cuba Libre and a classic twist on the Daiquiri.

Hula’s lays claim “the Valley’s tastiest Mai Tai” (boasting more than 300,000 sold since 2009). So, they’ve also extended National Mai Tai Day to all weekend long and are offering three all-new twists on the Mai Tai, alongside the classic Signature Mai Tai, Friday, Aug. 28, through Sunday, Aug. 30 (from open to close). Specialty featured cocktails are only offered for dine-in service.

Plus, for folks not quite ready to break “quaran-tiki,” all three locations are offering carryout food and drink, including Hula’s Signature Mai Tai. Takeout is not offered during weekend brunch (10:30am-2:30pm, Saturday and Sunday).

Hula’s Modern Tiki pairs signature tropical drinks with from-scratch Polynesian-style foods such as spicy rice bowls and fresh fish tacos, at three Valley locations. To find additional information, including the restaurant’s current safety protocols, visit

Valley Chef Opens Fast-Casual Eatery: Stratta Kitchen

Rizi Bizi

Chickpea & Herb Hummus

Sicilian Caponata

Beets & Apples

Chef Alex Stratta’s seasonal Mediterranean-style dishes will be available to Valley diners for dine-in, takeout or delivery beginning Monday, Aug. 3.

North Scottsdale’s Stratta Kitchen serves up what the restaurant describes as “fresh, seasonal and chef-crafted fare,” led by the James Beard Award-winning chef. In partnership with the Genuine Concepts restaurant group, Stratta Kitchen will be open daily for lunch and dinner, available for dine-in, takeout or delivery via online ordering. Stratta, who also starred on “Iron Chef America” and earned a prestigious two Michelin stars for his eponymous eatery in Las Vegas, has personally handcrafted his menu to offer a “deliciously approachable” twist on flavorful Mediterranean fare, with most dishes priced at less than $12.

So why did this award-winning chef ditch fine dining to open his own fast-casual kitchen?

“Today’s diners are looking for high quality, natural and flavorful food that’s both convenient and accessible,” Stratta said in a statement. “The Mediterranean approach to cooking is sunny, inherently healthy, light and full of flavor focusing on fresh, seasonal and optimum quality ingredients.”

Stratta developed the Statta Kitchen ethos during his own health journey, overcoming colon cancer, changing his lifestyle and losing close to 100 pounds in the process. To regain his health, Stratta gravitated towards a natural, whole foods approach to cooking and eating.

To ensure that the service and atmosphere at Statta Kitchen are as warm, and welcoming as the bill of fare, the chef partnered with Phoenix-based Genuine Concepts, the neighborhood-focused restaurant group behind The Vig, The Little Woody, The Womack, Ladera Taverna y Cocina and The McMillan.

The menu includes naturally dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options, with the goal of catering to a number of dietary needs and preferences without limitation. Broken down into To Share or Not to Share, Greens, Grains and The Goods, the menu also offers a selection of house-made specialty sauces to adorn any meal. Plus, the quick-serve setting will allow diners to pop in, order and go about their day, or sit and relax with a glass of wine of a craft beer.

Stratta Kitchen is located at 8260 N. Hayden Road, Suite A102, inside the Mercado on Hayden shopping center in Scottsdale. For more information call 480.597.9195. Find Stratta’s menu by visiting

Photos courtesy of Stratta Kitchen

Kitchen Insider: Step Inside Francine With Chef Brian Archibald

Chef Brian Archibald will partner with restaurateur Laurent Halasz, best known for Fig & Olive, to bring a new Mediterranean experience to Scottsdale diners. Francine is set to open Aug. 14 at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Among the signature dishes guests can expect to see on the dinner menu: Grilled Octopus, Zucchini Carpaccio, Salad Niçoise, Ratatouille Tart, Steak Tartare, Mushroom & Taleggio, Bone Marrow, Bouillabaisse, Striped Bass, and Seared Duck a la Provençal. For lunch and afternoon hours, the menu will also offer a selection of salads, carpaccio, pizza and informal and shareable dishes.

For more information, call 480.690.6180 or visit

I caught up with the chef as he prepares to open, and he shared these insights with me.

Chef’s Pick: Wild Striped Bass, cooked in papillote, with French olive oil, Picholine olives, lemon, fennel and Agrodolce eggplant

In your own words, please introduce yourself:
My name is Brian Archibald, I am a local Phoenican and Arizona chef that has worked around the U.S. in top kitchens with over 22 years of experience.

How did you get into the restaurant business/where were you trained?
While I was in high school, I attended a culinary program called CCAP, which give students the skills and work ethic to enter the culinary world.

This program also awards scholarships in competitions. I was awarded a scholarship to attend culinary school in San Francisco.

From where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
I draw inspiration from other artisan[s], farmers, bakers and chefs. I read many articles on food and actively search for new concepts to try.

How would you describe the flavor profile of your restaurant?
Our flavor profile in Francine is coastal cuisine of the French Riviera — “the food of the sun.” Very crisp, refreshing seafood and vegetable forward.

Chef’s Pick: Branzino with Panisse and heirloom tomato Sauce Veirge

Chef says he takes sourcing his ingredients locally seriously.
I have been supporting Arizona farmers and artisans for most of my entire career and continuously look to forge new relationships.

What is your favorite dish at Francine?
My favorite dish at the moment is the Branzino with Panisse and heirloom tomato Sauce Veirge. It exemplifies the summer season and the flavors we hope to achieve through Francine. Chef says that another favorite is the Wild Striped Bass… Cooked in papillote, with French olive oil, Picholine olives, lemon, fennel and Agrodolce eggplant.

What is your go-to dish to cook at home?
My go-to for the summer for the family is Hoisin Turkey lettuce wraps with sticky rice, black bean chile sauce and lots of lots of fresh herbs.

And, what are the elements that make for a memorable meal?
I feel meals are memorable when the food can connect with you through flavors that surprise your palate but are understandable. Simple but executed well. Another key is the hospitality and service being sincere. |CST

Kathryn M. Miller is editor-in-chief at CITYSunTimes. Do you have a favorite Valley restaurant that you would like us to visit behind-the-scenes? Drop her a line:

‘SIP’ Your Way Through Summer With LDV

LDV Winery owners and winemakers Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca are back with new weekly “From the LDV Winery Vineyard Kitchen” cooking and wine pairing series. Multiple events, themes and menus will be offered throughout the remainder of July and into August. Each virtual event takes place via Facebook Live, Thursdays at 4pm. Participants are invited to “SIP” (shelter in place) along with the LDV team as they share cooking and tasting tips, easy recipes and more during these casual virtual happy hour event.

Each event incorporates interactive preparation discussion, instruction tips and step-by-step meal tutorial. Recipes are posted prior to each session, with weekly meals taking place through Aug. 20:

  • July 30: Appetizers for Dinner featuring Chinese Lettuce Wraps, stuffed mushrooms, jicama shrimp tacos and bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeno peppers, served with 2017 Viognier
  • Aug. 6: Filet with Cognac Mushroom Sauce, wild rice pilaf, and tomato salad, complemented by the new 2014 Sky Island Petite Sirah
  • Aug. 13: Chinese Eggrolls, Szechuan beef with rice, and spiced apple chutney wontons, served with 2016 R.E.D. Rhone Wine Blend
  • Aug. 20: Risotto with roasted shallots, portobello, mushrooms, radishes, and parmesan, paired with 2015 Grenache…plus Instant Espresso Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert

To join each complimentary class, guests can simply go to the LDV Winery Facebook page. Participants are invited to “drink along” by purchasing the featured wines. Wine club members receive enhanced discounts as well. Call 480.664.4822 to place an order to pick-up curbside or for tasting reservations at the LDV Winery Tasting Room in Old Town Scottsdale. Tasting Room hours are Sunday through Thursday, noon–6pm, and Friday and Saturday, noon–8pm. Local delivery can also be arranged. For more information, visit

Summertime Dining Made Easy: Postino Offers Family To-Go Menu & Wine ‘Spritz Kitz’

As we roll into the ‘dog days of summer,’ Postino is inviting Valley residents to stay in and stay cool with all-new to-go options. Whether a light no-cook weeknight dinner or a weekend spread made easy for the crew, Postino says its new Food for the Crew “is perfectly portioned to satisfy your Postino cravings when you’re rolling with a small crew” (4–6 people).

Featuring small platters of favorite Postino menu items, including table snacks, salads, panini and bruschetta, the Food for the Crew menu sounds like an easy option when it’s just too hot to think about that age-old question: “What’s for dinner?”

In addition to the new Food for the Crew menu, Postino is also launching its Spritz Kitz — a DIY to-go wine kit that includes all the ingredients necessary to make spritz cocktails at home, including a recipe card and a canvas tote to carry it in. Spritz Kits are $45 and are available for purchase online.

Postino’s Food for the Crew and Spritz Kitz packages are available at all Valley Postino locations.  For more information or to place an order, visit

Photos courtesy of Postino

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