Where to purchase hard to find cocktail ingredients?

Discussion of drinks, alcoholic and otherwise
mwest
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5 years ago

I'm looking for a retail spot in the greater PHX area where I can purchase high quality orgeat, falernum and Averna amaro and other hard to find cocktail ingredients like that. Sportmans has closed, BevMo and Total Wine don't have them. Any suggestions? I live in North Scottsdale, but probably will have to travel to get this stuff, so anywhere in the Valley will work.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Welcome aboard, mwest!

This isn't my realm of expertise, but there are a couple of regulars who are supremely well-equipped for this kind of question, and I'm sure they'll jump in shortly :-)

Glad to have you here!
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
DMancini
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5 years ago

I've had a tough time finding a lot of things here in Phoenix.

Orgeat is something that I would make myself. I've ordered the Orgeat from Small Hands and it was amazing. Better than anything I would have made myself. Not cheap but definitely worth it. I've tried the serious eats recipe for it but it didn't turn out right. As a matter of fact every attempt at a true orgeat has had mixed results.

I feel like I've found falernum in town but don't remember where. Fee Brothers makes one and I would imagine Total Wine could bring it in since they carry Fee Brothers Bitters.


Total wine carries Averna Amaro. I've seen it in stores on and off but not with any regularity. They will always ship it to the store if they don't have it.

I think it's just a matter of time before we have a liquor store which caters to cocktail enthusiasts but for now Total wine is about all we get. The only other thing I could think of is start making friends with your local liquor store owner. Someone who is available and owns a liquor store because he loves the craft behind booze not because it seemed like a fun idea to open a liquor store. When I lived in the area the liquor store owner at the liquor store near Shea and Hayden was open to bringing some things in and had a few harder to find things.
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Mike Todd
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5 years ago

I could swear I've seen falernum around town, possibly at the Total Wine on Camelback (@16th St) or maybe at the Arcadia AJ's (Camelback @ 44th St), or maybe I'm just having a muddled Sportsman's flashback. Same thing with the Averna Amaro--could swear I've seen it somewhere along Camelback besides Sportsman's. If these places *don't* have the stuff you're looking for, you can ask the guys at Top's Liquors to special order it for you. I believe AJ's will extend the same courtesy, but I don't have any first-hand experience with ordering through them.

For orgeat, I've relied on mail order, as I don't know of any local retailers who carry the Small Hands line of products. I've never tried to track down the almond syrup mentioned in the PDT Cocktail Book (Kassatly Chtaura brand), but if I were to try, I'd start with Baiz Market and then spiral out, hitting Haji Baba, Alzahour, and similar places.

I'm currently out of orgeat, so if you (and/or anyone else) would like to order some, I'd be happy to put in an order for multiple bottles of the Small Hands product in hopes of reducing the per bottle shipping cost.

EDIT: Or you know...what Dante said.
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Mike Z
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5 years ago

I second that, definitely give Top's Liquor in Tempe a call
Loumaep
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5 years ago

I found that if you ask at Total Wine, they can do special orders for you. I have the Amaro that I purchased at the Gilbert location. Luckily in Gilbert we have a few other places that will also special order. Good luck.
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The Cosmic Jester
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5 years ago

Bevmo has falernum. It hides. It's usually near the absinthe, on the bottom shelf next to a shelf support. Not that I'm familiar with sourcing tiki ingredients or anything.

As far as orgeat... Make your own. I do a cheater version that's dead simple and comes out fabulous. Get unsweetened almond milk from the store, add 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup almond milk, add a few dashes of orange flower and rose waters, enough to give a background note but not so much that it tastes floral. Boom. Done. To do it completely homemade, make your own almond milk and go from there. Note that homemade orgeat will separate and therefore needs to be shaken before using.
mwest
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5 years ago

Thanks for the welcome and for all the good suggestions! Appreciation all around.

Not sure if any of you have been to New Orleans and had a cocktail made by Chris Hannah at Arnaud's French 75 bar, but this is one of the cocktails I need the Averna for:

Rebennack

-1½ oz rye

- ¾ oz Averna amaro

- ¼ oz Clement Creole Shrubb

- 2 dashes Peychauds bitters
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BillBuitenhuys
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5 years ago

mwest, the Rebennack is an amazing cocktail. Chris H does have a talent.

I think you have lots of good answers to your question about sourcing ingredients in the Valley. Yup, BevMo has Taylor Falernum as Jester said. I haven't found good orgeat around but making the simple one is a good way to go.

If you like that style of drink, Geoffrey Wilson at Barrelhouse in Chandler (and sometimes at The Beverly), is from New Orleans and does a wonderful job with bitter heavy drinks like that one or other NOLA classics like Saz or Vieux Carre.
mwest
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5 years ago

I did find the falernum at BevMo, it was hiding, so thanks!

Looking forward to trying your recipe for orgeat, Jester. I'm not gonna blanch my own almonds like I've seen in other recipes, but yours sounds quite do-able.

The Total Wine on Scottsdale Rd. south of Shea has never been very helpful at ordering stuff for me. I asked them about ordering the Averna and he said they don't carry it anymore, its no longer distrbuted in AZ or something like that. They said the same thing about falernum, but the manager didn't seem willing to go to any great lengths to search it out.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for a different amaro? Is there a lot of difference between them?

Thanks for the suggestion on Barrelhouse. Not often I get down to Chandler, but I'll keep it in mind, sounds like a good bartender.
We'll be hitting up the Beverly before too long, I'll look for him there.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

mwest wrote:Does anyone have any other suggestions for a different amaro? Is there a lot of difference between them?
Yeah, the differences between them can be huge. Try Amaro Nonino next to Amaro Montenegro :-)

Sadly, not as up on amari as I'd like to be... can't suggest substitutions.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
mwest
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5 years ago

Thanks, Cosmic Jester, for the orgeat cheater recipe. It came out great and was super easy to make. I've been using it in the drink Geoffrey Wilson taught me, his McMillian, and in Mai Tais. Thanks again!
DMancini
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4 years ago

Anyone tried the Orgeat that Cocktail Kingdom sells? Tiki Adam's Toasted Orgeat.

http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/all-barw ... p-431.html

It's out of stock right now but wondering if it's worth picking up once back on their shelves.
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The Cosmic Jester
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4 years ago

15 bucks for a 375 ml bottle? Not just no, but oh hell no.

I've made toasted almond syrup before. It doesn't count as orgeat. The toasting gives the syrup a completely different flavor profile. Tiki drinks don't taste right with it in there.
DMancini
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4 years ago

So you're saying no?
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The Cosmic Jester
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4 years ago

Let's put it this way, for fifteen bucks I think I could make somewhere close to a gallon of toasted almond syrup. Granted, you don't get to tell people you got artisanal syrup from Cocktail Kingdom if you make it yourself...
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Dapuma
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4 years ago

I source most of my tiki stuff online. Hitimewines.com is 9.99 shipping to AZ for 12 bottles, and it comes in 2-3 days. Cant beat the prices there and no tax. -- Drinkupnyc is also great, but takes about 7-10 days to get your shipment and is a bit more expensive for shipping, they do have some harder to source Japanese Whiskey's and each carries a couple unique things the other doesn't - I did find ED 21 year on sale for $85 so I could not pass that deal up

Small Hand Food products are worth the price. I swear by their Orgeat and Pinnaple Gum Syrup The PG Syrup really takes your Pina Colada's to the next level. The syrups i generally order the smaller bottle, and the Orgeat the large bottle is a must. The orgeat stays good in the fridge quite awhile, the syrups not so much. Grenadine you can use Small Hand Foods or you can make your own.

To make 1 quart. 2.5 cups POM, 2.5 cups cane sugar, 1 oz. Lemon juice, .25 - .5 oz. Orange Blossom water (If fresh, .25, more if old since it loses potency once opened.)

Credit to JMF of chowhound for the recipe, it turns out great
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chrislee
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4 years ago

I just posted this in Instagram to have an easy way to post here. :)

Saw Small Hand Foods syrups (pineapple gum, orgeat, tonic) at BevMo at Tempe Marketplace this weekend!

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Dapuma
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4 years ago

nice find Chris
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