A collection of Phoenix food news items to whet your appetite.


Written by Craig Outhier & Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: June 2016
Group Free


First Taste:Summer
Cocktails at Okra

Think of Jake Foster as a mixology chef de cuisine. As cocktail maestro Micah Olson’s lieutenant at Southern fine-dining outpost Okra, Foster is given wide creative berth on the restaurant’s seasonal drink menu. He shared a pair of his currently unnamed summer cocktail additions with us on a recent visit. 

5813 N. Seventh St., 602-296-4147, okraaz.com

Cocktail #1 

Clueless what to do with that bottle of celery bitters some well-meaning colleague gave you for Christmas? Boom. Foster has your back with this spring-flavored cocktail marrying gin with apple syrup and Dolin vermouth (pictured). He finishes with a sprig of dill and the aforementioned savory bitters, for a green-tasting sipper that pairs nobly with Okra’s fried dilly beans. 

Suggested name: The Wicked Waldorf 


Cocktail #2PHM0616EB MM 01

Foster isn’t a huge fan of Manhattan-style “up” cocktails because he likes to use citrus, but this is his concession to the genre – a brooding mélange of bourbon, Montenegro amaro, apricot liqueur and sherry. It’s potent but somehow ethereal – a Manhattan with fairy wings. Enjoy with Okra’s signature Tennessee-style fried chicken. 

Suggested name: Sensitive Redneck

Pav on Juice: Malvasia Mania

A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.

At the Devoured Culinary Classic several years ago, Arizona wines shared the spotlight with wines from all over the world. I found myself going back to the local tents. Why? I craved the heady aromas and crisp, refreshing flavors of Malvasia Bianca, a sturdy white varietal originally from Greece that has also become a strong performer in Arizona soil, thanks to the efforts of the late wine pioneer Al Buhl. In my humble opinion, it is poised to be the darling of Arizona winemakers – much as Pinot Noir elevated Oregon’s wine industry.

A notable representation is Sand-Reckoner’s Malvasia Bianca, included for two consecutive years on the annual San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 list. Below are a few more examples. Any of them will pair exceptionally with June’s generously warm temperatures, and healthy servings of ceviche.

2015 Bodega Pierce Malvasia Bianca ($24)

Michael Pierce’s parents Barbara and Dan tend the vines at their 80-acre Willcox estate. Michael doubles as winemaker and Director of Enology at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College. This rendition is brisk, focused and lean.

2013 Caduceus “Dos Ladrones” ($40)

Floral, refreshing and super fun. Made from 50 percent Malvasia Bianca and 50 percent Chardonnay, it’s a charming interplay of these two varietals. The Chardonnay provides chutzpah, and the Malvasia adds a refreshing lift. 

2014 Page Springs “Vino del Barrio Blanca” ($22)

With Malvasia leading the blend, this perfumed, pleasing wine is replete with tropical aromas and ripe fruit, light and easy drinking. Visit the tasting room in Page Springs nestled alongside a creek, and I promise you will experience suspension of reality.