Relaxing at one of Arizona’s beautiful resorts immediately transports me into vacation mode. It’s made even better when combining a posh atmosphere with an inviting “Five for $5” from 5-7 p.m. six days a week. Bourbon Steak’s bar and lounge’s sleek design takes its cues from the Southwest with large windows framing the desert landscape and natural finishes such as a warm wood ceiling and a stacked stone wall. Settle in at a convivial U-shaped bar, window-lined banquette tables, or low sofas and lounge chairs and enjoy a $5 food menu with a specialty cocktail ($5), beer ($3) or choice of red or white wine ($5). With options changing daily, you may find 8th Street Ale from local Four Peaks on Tuesdays, Japanese Kirin Ichiban on Wednesdays, or Mexico’s Pacifico on Fridays. Under the direction of lead mixologist Chad Elsner, the daily cocktail selection is just as varied. Thus far I’ve sipped my way through Wednesday’s punch with Sailor Jerry’s nutmeg-spiced rum, house punch and orange bitters, Thursday’s Bourbon Peach with Maker’s Mark, Fever-Tree ginger ale and peach bitters, and Saturday’s Rangpur Gimlet mixed with Tanqueray Rangpur gin and lime cordial.
Bourbon Steak is a Michael Mina’s restaurant and here it’s helmed by talented Executive Chef Daniel Patino. The creativity results in a not-your-average Happy Hour menu, especially for a seafood lover like me. Shrimp with deeply flavored spicy Creole sauce envelops a grilled white cheddar-grits cake. Lobster and crab “rolls” arrive as buttery crostini piled high with fresh seafood tossed with celery and apple rémoulade. On a recent visit, “Two Buck Shucks” showcased briny Kumamoto oysters with Bloody Mary cocktail sauce, and fish and frites were highlighted by a Rogue Dead Guy Ale beer batter. I also can’t resist the pork belly bánh mì sliders layered with jalapeno, spicy mayo, pickled carrots and cilantro.
Not discounted at HH, but the burgers, fries and shakes are too good to miss on the bar menu. A juicy blend of American wagyu and dry-aged prime beef is cooked to order over a wood-burning grill. Embellish with 30+ toppings and sauces with choices such as truffled Pecorino cheese, bourbon caramelized onions, arugula, or Green Goddess sauce. Turkey burgers, vegetarian falafel, and lamb or salmon burgers round out the selections. A trio of decadent duck fat fries is a must-have: one dusted with Spanish smoked paprika with BBQ dipping sauce, another freckled with black pepper accompanied by garlic aioli and the third showered with fines herbes paired with onion ketchup. The meal wouldn’t be complete without an Adult Milkshake. Try a Malt with bourbon and caramel, a Grasshopper with chocolate liqueur and crème de menthe, or an Appleton Rum Raisin.
For an indulgent reverse Happy Hour, after 9 p.m. Bourbon offers Sweet Endings with a specialty dessert cocktail or wine for $5 and half-price desserts that include warm beignets, seasonal ice creams and sorbets or, my favorite, the sinful Macallan 18 year butterscotch pudding.
It’s believed that the Gimlet has its roots in the British Royal Navy. General Surgeon Thomas Gimlette is said to have prescribed this sailor-friendly mix of lime and gin to prevent scurvy. Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book lists both a Gimlet (equal parts gin and lime cordial) and a Gimblet (three parts gin to one part lime juice topped with soda water), with our modern version closer to the lime:gin ratio of the latter. As lime cordial is sweetened lime juice and Rose’s is considered the original lime cordial, many feel this is an intrinsic part of a classic Gimlet. Variations can include a vodka gimlet, fresh lime instead of Rose’s, or the lovely Gimlet found at Bourbon made with Tanqueray Rangpur, a gin distilled with Rangpur limes, ginger and other traditional botanicals.