New Cocktail Menu at Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery – Tucson

Located at 266 Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701
Open daily 11a-midnight
https://hubdowntown.com/

Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery is located in downtown Tucson. It’s a nice, fairly upscale joint that probably replaced some stabby dive bar where you could easily get shitty coke in the bathroom from a guy with a neck tattoo and a denim vest because that’s pretty much all downtown Tucson used to be back in the day. But nowadays the whole area has been classed up and is practically unrecognizable to anyone who may have been the victim of knife crime there a mere ten years ago.

Within the last week or so Hub completely revamped their cocktail menu with nine drinks that each put a fun spin on classic styles. They’re complex but fairly quick to make so you won’t be waiting fifteen minutes for each thing and they’re familiar enough to be accessible but different enough to make you seem extra cool and knowledgeable when ordering. I was invited to an exclusive preview tasting alongside a bunch of suckers who write for legitimate publications with strictly enforced word limits. But this is the internet, baby. And The Classy Alcoholic isn’t limited by shit other than his liver function which somehow hasn’t given up yet! So let’s run through the new Hub cocktail menu and then drunkenly walk home slurping a pint of artisanal ice cream that is dripping down your chin and shirt ‘cause it’s rapidly melting in the desert heat.

THE WORKHORSE

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Do you know what an Old Fashioned is? Well you should because it’s a very simple cocktail that tastes great and became very popular with a bunch of poser assholes after they watched Mad Men and thought it would be fun to give suits, classic cocktails and alcoholism a try even though that’s been MY whole thing for well over a decade. It’s also the inspiration for this first drink. An Old Fashioned can be made with bourbon if you’re a normal person or with brandy if you’re a serial killer pretending you’re able to feel. The Workhorse is made with vanilla bean-infused rye whiskey and salted cacao bitters which makes it much sweeter than a regular degular Old Fashioned. The vanilla cuts down a lot on the strong, boozy burn from the whiskey if that’s usually too much for you.

 

EAST ENDER

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Do you know what a Negroni is? Well I don’t because it’s made with gin and I once drank so much of it one night in my early 20’s that I ended up puking and now every sip of gin tastes like the shame of my adulthood failures mixed with every sad childhood Christmas my dad didn’t show up to. But the East Ender is actually great because it tastes like a Negroni without the gin. It’s actually made with white whiskey, which is unaged so it has the strong, bitter corn flavor as opposed to the sweeter, smoother tinge of an aged whiskey. That taste will be familiar to any of us who spent our college years broke and drinking white-ass white tequila or clear but somehow still cloudy plastic bottle vodka. This drink offsets some of that with a bitter pomegranate liqueur but this is still a punch in the face. It’s a very strong cocktail that is meant to be sipped and not slammed.

 

PIECES OF EIGHT

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If the last two drinks are too strong and you need something that resembles diabetes in a glass then you’re in luck because Hub has a tiki-inspired drink made with black barrel rum, ruby port, cinnamon syrup and Swedish punsch, which is actually a liqueur that I spelled correctly and it’s not just me drunkenly slurring the word “punch.” This is sneakily strong so you definitely won’t need more than a couple. It tastes like spiked fruit juice which reminded me so much of prom because that’s what I was drinking all night when I crashed the high school gymnasium and totally ruined a bunch of high school kids’ time last year. In my defense, I didn’t know there was a prom happening, I thought I was just sneaking into an empty gym to do drugs.

 

BASIL BUCK

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This one is very simple. It’s got basil-infused vodka which basically makes this a vegetable drink which means I drank a whole salad’s worth of booze. It’s also made with ginger syrup, lime and soda which means it’s Hub’s version of a Moscow mule. It has a strong lime flavor and it tastes leafy but in that nice refreshing way; not in the, I just woke up on the front lawn with a face full of grass and dirt and there are a bunch of empty beer cans all around me and also I’m not wearing pants kind of way.

 

SUNSPOT

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Oh boy, was I scared of this one. I was dreading it once I saw it was made with gin, my old nemesis. Gin is the my ex-girlfriend of booze ‘cause I know I should stay away but whenever I see it on the menu I think this time things will be different but I keep being wrong because I get burned every time and also gin tells me it loves me but it always ends up banging my Cousin Chico. But believe it or not, this time it actually was different! With the drink, not with the ex. This was a surprisingly sweet cocktail made with an apricot liqueur that mixed very well with the gin. The sweetness really blended well with the juniper bite and gave it an almost entirely new flavor that didn’t remind me of my heavy gin guzzling days. The Sunspot actually helped me overcome my fear of gin cocktails which I didn’t think would ever happen.

 

SANDIA FRIA

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This is Spanish for “cold watermelon” and it’s basically a fancy ass margarita. Yes, it’s made with tequila but it also has watermelon syrup and hibiscus salt on the rim. Just look at this damn thing. Probably the best, most accessible drink on the menu that achieves that balance between the base spirit and the sweet syrup better than anything else I tried this day. The salt not only adds a lot to the cocktail but it looks damn good for all you assholes who love throwing this kind of stuff up on the ‘gram.

 

STUCK IN MY CABANA

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I spent plenty of time stuck in a cabana on a remote island being interrogated by Pitbull’s security team after they found me stowing away on his yacht. I only wish I had this delicious, icy drink with me. It’s made with raspberry brandy, coconut syrup and tepache. That last word refers to a Mexican fermented pineapple drink that is usually sold by street vendors or at taco shops but is now bottled into a liqueur by a big company because white people just can’t stop colonizing.

 

RODEO QUEEN

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This was inspired by a champagne cocktail called the French 76. It’s made with vodka, sparkling wine and blueberry syrup. It’s light on the alcohol content, fruity, refreshing and you could easily have a few of these with brunch or during a hungover breakfast. Because, like the mimosa, this drink makes early morning alcohol consumption seem acceptable and fun. Also the lack of actual champagne will probably piss off a Frenchman, which I’m totally okay with.

 

SANTA CRUZ FLOAT

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And finally we’re at the dessertiest thing on the menu. This is pretty much a boozy root beer float made with clear Del Bac whiskey, milk stout syrup and salted caramel ice cream. If you think it would be super sweet then you’re right, it is. But it also has this amazing smoky flavor thanks to the whiskey. It’s served in a tall mug that’s meant to be shared just like the good ole days when your grandpa would take his best girl down to the diner, buy her a float and smoke cigarettes indoors legally while sharing his disdain for people who were a different race than him. Boy am I glad my racist grandpa’s dead. He was…just the worst. Anyhoozle, this Santa Cruz float is awesome. Share one with a friend. Preferably a friend of a different race!

Salud!

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Spirits Are The New Craft

A review of:
Adventurous Stills – Tempe, AZ
Located at 2125 E 5th St, #102, Tempe, AZ 85281
Open Fri 5p-8p; Sat 2p-7p
http://www.adventstills.com

And:
Three Wells Distilling Company – Tucson, AZ
Located at 3780 E 44th St, #120, Tucson, AZ 85713
Open Sat 5p-8p
http://www.threewellsdistilling.com

I’ve been writing about Arizona craft beer and wine for just under three years now and found enormous success in a very short time. Most people would be happy with my level of fame and coast on that early success without innovating until they die, Kurt Cobain style. But I decided to instead explore a completely different realm of the Arizona booze scene: local spirits.

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