If you follow my social media feeds or have read past posts, it's no secret I'm a huge fan of Market Street Kitchen in North Scottsdale. What's not to love? A prime location on Market Street in DC Ranch showcases a stylish dining room, wrap-around patio and expansive bar, the warm hospitality of owners the Keelers, the talents of Executive Chef Michael Hunn, and the cocktail prowess of Garrit Guthrie and the bar team.
It's also no surprise they were a 2016 finalist for a Foodist Award for Premier Cocktail Program and I recently spent a wonderful afternoon sampling some libations from their new menu. We settled in at the bar as Garrit welcomed our media group for a preview of his winter cocktail launch and I think this may be the best round yet. "Whereas our last list was really summery and bright and heavily tiki-inspired, this shows a little bit more familiar fall and winter flavors," Garrit described. "Even though Arizona really just has a cooler season, you’ll notice a tone of baking spices in many drinks and we’ve played around a lot with the amari this year."
"Our list has been built to be progressive. You'll find it starts light and bright and then works its way down towards more spirit-forward and deeper-flavored cocktails."
We started with the beautifully-balanced Pisco-Techa (a play on the word discothèque) made with Barsol Pisco, Benedictine, apricot liqueur, lime and absinthe rinse, garnished with colorful micro-orchids. Pisco, the national spirit of Chile and Peru, is a distillate made from grapes. "When I taste pisco, I get that grape flavor, that grape oil, almost that flavor you get when you bite into a grape seed, which plays well against the apricot," said Garrit.
The Chai-Tai is one of Garrit's personal favorites. He explained that elements of a well-made Mai Tai should be fresh citrus and brightness, not overly-sweet fruit juice. At MSK, he uses Plantation O.F.T.D. (Old Fashioned Traditional Dark), made with a blend of rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. It's one of my favorites rums, and I was actually introduced to it for the first time with Garrit at UnderTow. "It's an overproof rum, so this drink definitely packs a punch," he noted. Complemented with orgeat, chai, fresh lemon and lime and and a Stiggin's Fancy Plantation Pineapple rum float, it's a fantastically smooth, lightly sweet, potent tropical sipper and my new favorite Mai Tai in town.
The Road Runner (a take on the classic tiki drink Jungle Bird) draws its Arizona name from locally-made ingredients such as CaskWerks Distilling Company gin and AZ Bitters Lab mole bitters. "We still have the pineapple, but in place of the dark rum, we’re using gin. We made a cold brew syrup that I think really shows nicely here, and then over the top we drizzle a hibiscus grenadine." Pineapple juice, lemon, and Bruto Americano round out this enticing concoction that is as addictive as it is eye-catching. "It will change as you drink it," Garrit told us. "As the grenadine settles down and the drink opens up a bit, it will be a different experience from the beginning to the end."
I love to see fortifed wine cocktails on a menu, especially when they're as expertly crafted as the aromatic and refreshing Sherry Baby. Madeira's deep nuttiness was embellished with cinnamon simple syrup and the spice of Rittenhouse rye brightened with grapefruit and lime juice and finished with walnut bitters. "Somebody described it today as breakfast in a cup," said Garrit. "It definitely has some maple-y rich warm sweetness but with a nice acidity that balances that out."
Our final two introductions continued the theme of impressive cocktails. How Do Ya Like 'dem Apples married Laird's apple brandy with the herbal nuances of Green Chartreuse, Benedictine, Alessio vermouth, and rhubarb bitters, resulting in a spirit-forward combination that evoked fall and warm spices. Another perfect cool-weather (or anytime) cocktail is Tally Me Banana with the kick of Plantation O.F. T.D. overproof rum bolstered by Giffard Banane du Bresil, a liqueur made with cognac and ripe bananas, cinnamon, and AZ Bitters Lab Más Mole Bitters.
As we enjoyed our beverage exploration, Chef Hunn made sure we were well fed. Market Street Kitchen offers a build-your-own cheese and charcuterie board where guests can check off their choices. Chef Hunn brought over two boards piled high with some of his favorites: Molinari Salami, Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese smoked over hazelnut shells, spicy Spanish chorizo, Manchego cheese, Creminelli finocchiona studded with fennel seed, Irish porter cheddar, and Wisconsin smoked duck breast, with accoutrements of rosemary baguette, crab apples, cornichons, olives, and marcona almonds.
Olympia Provisions' Loukanika flavored with cumin and orange zest, Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor, Molinari Finocchiona, Prairie Breeze aged white cheddar, La Quercia prosciutto, lomo (dry-cured Berkshire pork loin), and Saint Angel Triple Creme:
A bonus was a special item created that day, with our appreciative group the first to try chef's new creation: Buffalo octopus. A tangy-spicy glaze (including a secret ingredient) enrobed amazingly tender pieces of braised and charred octopus. "My inspiration for this was a twist on buffalo wings," said Chef Hunn. "I thought of octopus being tender and meaty, the consistency of a good chicken wing. This was a 7-1/2 pound Spanish octopus cooked for 3-1/2 hours low and slow in its own juices. It’s fun and whimsical and it's the first time coming out of the kitchen. I'm really happy with this one." We were too, and I know I'm not the only one from our group eager to head back to Market Street Kitchen for another plate.
Market Street Kitchen will also be offering flights and bringing back their Secret Book Club cocktail menu (Insider's tip: Keep an eye out for the novel The Outsiders on the bar bookshelf).
Market Street Kitchen at DC Ranch is located at 20825 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 and serves lunch and dinner. It is open 11:30 am to 10 pm (10 am to 10 pm on Sundays). "Happiest Hour" is 3 to 7 pm daily, and on Tuesday nights, take advantage of the Barrel and Board special. Purchase a bottle of wine, and receive a complimentary cheese and/or meat board. Order a bottle up to $30 and choose five items, or a bottle over $30 with your choice of seven items.