Several bars just minutes away from the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus were invited to participate in Arizona Cocktail Week for the first time in the event's six-year history.
The annual event kicked off on Friday and runs through Feb. 24. In addition to industry events such as educational seminars and cocktail competitions, several bars throughout the Phoenix Valley and Tucson were invited to offer specialty cocktails, like a spicy mescal at Blue Hound Kitchen, and small plates as part of the festivities.
Executive Director of Arizona Cocktail Week Damon Scott, said there were practical reasons for moving some of the events out of Old Town Scottsdale, like the need for more space, but he also acknowledged the growth of the industry in the Downtown area.
“Downtown Phoenix has a lot going on in that warehouse district right now,” he said. “It’s super exciting.”
Scott said that while the age of cocktail connoisseurs tends to be a little bit older, he believes people of all ages are starting to pay more attention to what they are drinking.
“The popularity of craft cocktails, in particular and what we do, its reach is expanding," he said. "I see that being applicable to a younger audience every year."
Downtown Phoenix, Inc., an advocacy group that works to promote opportunities for growth and enrichment for businesses and residents in Downtown Phoenix, is one of the event sponsors. R.J. Price, vice president of Marketing and Events at Downtown Phoenix, Inc., said he thinks it’s great that Phoenix is being included in the event this year.
“I think that speaks volumes about how far we’ve come as a destination for food and beverage,” he said.
Price credits the ASU community, among others, for the increase in apartment rentals and foot traffic that has led to growth in the number of restaurants and other businesses in the area, as well as the willingness of organizers to bring their events to Downtown Phoenix.
“It’s a very smart, savvy, creative demographic, the folks that are downtown, and the students that come downtown really feed into that. It makes us a better place,” he said.
Price also acknowledges Ross Simon, the owner of Bitter and Twisted, as a major reason why this event has expanded to include Downtown.
“Ross deserves a lot of the credit for raising downtown’s profile in the cocktail world and making us attractive enough for Arizona Cocktail Week to put one of their signature events down here,” he said.
Natalie Spoehr, a nursing major, said she usually finds out about events via Facebook and wasn’t aware that it was Arizona Cocktail Week, but said she had been to Bitter and Twisted before and would go again.
“It’s a cool atmosphere,” she said, “They have good drinks too.”
Downtown Phoenix, Inc. curates a comprehensive events calendar of all upcoming events and celebrations, including the McDowell Mountain Music Festival and the Viva PHX Music Festival, both coming up in March.
Bitter and Twisted, The Arrogant Butcher and the Blue Hound Kitchen are all located on Jefferson Street, just a few minutes walk from the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus. A complete list of participating bars can be found here.
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