Cocktail Parlours and Honey Bears

I had been dying to head over to Bitter and Twisted in Phoenix, AZ. More specifically, I wanted to try their most popular drink of the month, Bear Witness. This aesthetically pleasing drink is a mix of Kikori Whiskey, fresh grapefruit, lemon, yuzu marmalade, pink peppercorn honey syrup, garnished with Dill. Super refreshing and cute! However, I totally found myself dying with how strong the whiskey flavor was despite having such amazing, fresh ingredients. Bitter & Twisted has an impeccable ambiance. A giant red drape at the entrance, concrete walls, and huge Bitter & Twisted poster of a pin up type girl. We sat on red leather upholstered couches and enjoyed our drinks next to a candlelight table. Bear Witness will run you about $10, which is descent when comparing to LA drink prices. I would recommend this bar if you’re looking for a chill night out with some interesting drinks.

 

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Welcome to Arizona

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Arizona is a strange place. Coming from Los Angeles, I am used to exploring. The cultural jungle of the West has instilled in me a love for exploration. Whether its food, culture, or entertainment, L.A will forever have an explorer searching. I am now celebrating my one year anniversary as an Arizona resident. In reflecting on my time here, I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on Arizona. Something Arizona has helped me develop is a strong appreciation for nature. Growing up, I played outside, spent a lot of time at the park, and was involved in several outdoor sports. But as I grew older and as my interests developed, I leaned towards academia, which meant more time indoors. Entering college, I was always busy. Work –> class –> study –> eat –> meetings –> tests –> more work… The cycle never ended. My senior year of college, I told myself I needed to appreciate every last moment I could at USC. Taking long routes back to my apartment, I noticed the beauty of life: simplicity. I watched leaves fall off of my favorite trees, I paused to observe the beautiful planted flowers on campus, and walked around appreciating all the squirrels protruding campus. The mere thought of observing flowers, trees, and squirrels seems ridiculous, but how many times do you actually stop and stay in the present moment? How often do we practice mindfulness, being in the present moment? Rarely. How often do we walk around, headphones in our ears, and have 10000 thoughts running on our minds? All the time…

Pause. Breathe. Take a look at all the beauty that surrounds you.  In these moments, I began to realize how nature is so important, and how nature can bring a whole sense of meaning to my life. What is nature to me? The trees, the birds, animals, flowers, air… Everything that is essential to our existence and part of our Earth that we so often take for granted… I learned to appreciate nature in small doses at USC. When I moved to Arizona, I truly began to realize how beautiful and important nature is.

Arizona is a strange place. I saw cacti, dry landscape, mountains, etc. I saw a different type of beauty in nature, a simple, calmness to the landscape of Arizona’s backyard that I had never seen before. Plants were different. Trees were different. Most of the recreational activities in the area involve the outdoors. Arizona has the Gran Canyon, Sedona, Creeks, Lakes, etc. Lightning/Thunder storms are some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. I couldn’t possible be scared of a storm because the horizon is graced with rays of lightning and a setting sun that can’t be seen in Los Angeles. There is so much to appreciate and so much to admire. It may not be Los Angeles, but it is one of the Earth’s natural beauties. It may not have  a booming cultural or foodie seeking appeal, but the appeal of nature is all it needs.

Arizona is a strange place, but it’s definitely grown on me. Above is a series of shots of a succulent plant I bought at Lowes. I love these small plants, and they hardly require any watering. It’s a small piece of Arizona ❤

A Phoenix-Los Angeles Paradigm

Phoenix. Tempe. Scottsdale. That’s what I think of when people say  “Phoenix”. As a Los Angeles native, I didn’t really know what to expect from Arizona, much less what type of culture encompasses the area. Los Angeles is known for being a cultural metropolis, the Mecca of “culture.” Nonetheless, it has its flaws in racism, classism, and poverty. In thinking of Los Angeles and my studies at USC, I began to critically think about Phoenix in the same ways I was challenged to do about L.A… This area is developing at a fast pace, which is great for local economies. However I started to think about the image of Phoenix… what exactly is this area becoming? A sub-par Los Angeles? A mini metropolis? An area seeking to find an identity, heavily influenced by LA restaurant and bar scenes. What does Phoenix need? Culture. L.A is famous for its cultural pockets, it’s ethnic hubs catering to immigrant communities (which are now heavily influenced by their second generation children). East of Los Angeles you’ll find the San Gabriel Valley, well knows for its Asian eats. Boyle Heights is known for its predominantly Latina/o community (overwhelmingly Mexican) and their good eats too. A lot of these resaturants/fast food are becoming a fusion of something I would call “hipster-ethnic food,” blending traditional, cultural food with modern ambiance, such as Guisados, largely famous in Boyle Heights. I personally dislike their tacos, like no I don’t want your aioli whatever sauce on my tacos… But anyways. What we see in LA are immigrant communities developing into ethnic hubs, dominantly influenced by second and third generation children. In LA, culture is growing and culture is heavily influenced and defined by their food. Phoenix is still forming its identity. It is still figuring out its culture. There aren’t as many immigrant communities impacting areas in Phoenix (well possibly the city of Guadalupe and their Mexican community; or the Native American community who is treated like an immigrant one). I think Scottsdale and Phoenix are seeing a large growth of new age restaurants. Fusion restaurants like Clever Koi, overpriced coffee shops like Luxe and organic, inspired cuisine such as Desert Roots Kitchen. I just wonder in what direction Phoenix will develop and what will come to define this area. Scottsdale continues to develop into this upscale, money, youth motivated area, much like Los Angeles. I am curious to find out what “Phoenix” will develop into in about ten years.