Scoop Factory is out drinking on a school night with the local bartender who beat out 3,500 competitors to be named the nation’s best:
So it’s Wednesday, which is practically Thursday, which means it’s time to start planning for weekend. In other words, who’s ready to talk cocktails? Yes, today we’re mixing it up with a Valley-based bartender who’s getting national acclaim for turning beets into gold, or at least sapphires. Confused? Well, meet Jason Asher, the mixologist extraordinaire at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain who was recently named the best bartender in the nation by Bombay Sapphire and GQ magazine.
An Arizona native, Asher first stepped behind the bar 13 years ago as a wet-behind-the-ears college student looking to make a few bucks. However it was here, working at the now-closed Biltmore sushi shop, Ayako of Tokyo, that Asher says his true education began. “There was a bartender named Max, who’d been in the business for 20 years, and he taught me the ropes as we cranked out Singapore Sling after Singapore Sling,” Asher says. Eventually, he graduated from copycatting classic cocktails to creating his own gourmet tipples, most spiked with the sort of exotic ingredients you’re more likely to see on a dinner menu rather than a drinks list. Which is how Asher ended up at Sanctuary, where his artisanal, food-forward cocktails are the perfect complement to the resort’s rising celebrity chef, Beau MacMillan.
Speaking of foodie cocktails, have you ever tried a Beet and Yuzu Gimlet garnished with a watermelon ball? Well, you might want to add it to your boozy bucket list because that’s the drink that led to Asher being crowned Bombay Sapphire & GQ’s “Most Inspired Bartender 2010.” Hosted in Las Vegas, Asher beat out 40 other regional finalists, including bartenders from the hometown Rhumbar and The Cooper Square Hotel in New York, who placed second and third, respectively. Read all about it in GQ’s annual Man of the Year issue, which hit newsstands this December.
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