Photo: Phoenix New Times

The Cure for the Common Cocktail: Mixology with Robert Porter at Sanctuary’s Jade Bar, Phoenix

Master Mixologist Robert Porter crafts a Pepper Smash #2
Master Mixologist Robert Porter crafts a Pepper Smash #2

Whether it be a Dirty Martini or a Moscow Mule, everyone has a favorite, stand-by cocktail that they always defer to. But, what about when you feel like mixing it up a little or trying something different? Be it a celebratory event or simply a shift in the weather, our capricious palates can experience sudden cravings for something new and fresh—and cocktails are no exception. Beyond your standard-issue Bartender’s Guide, where can you discover some great new cocktail recipes that aren’t just a twist on old Prohibition-era favorites or over-the-top, sickly sweet ‘girly drink’ concoctions that will give you intense sugar-overload (and the ensuing headache that goes with it)?

By far, the best craft cocktail class I’ve attended is Mixology at the newly revamped Jade Bar at Phoenix’s beautiful Sanctuary Resort. Held every Saturday at 1:00 p.m., each Mixology course is centered around a different spirit every week, from tequila or whiskey to rum or vodka, and demonstrates how to make three or four cocktails, plus “tips and techniques along with jade bar’s freshness philosophy, spirit details, cocktail history and tastings of your favorites.” Mixology courses are $30 and limited to 10 participants. Due to their ever-increasing popularity, reservations are highly recommended.

Led by Master Mixologist, Robert Porter, our group was led through a variety of delicious cocktail offerings. A few were of his own invention, but all of which incorporated fresh juices (blueberry, blackberry, yellow bell pepper) to aromatic herbs (sage, basil, mint, thyme, tarragon, rosemary) with an emphasis on savory vs. sweet.

Prior to becoming one of Jade Bar’s premier Mixologists, Porter had previously honed his cocktail-crafting chops for several years at the legendary Trader Vic’s. Now, with the introduction of a new “cocktail culture” by Oregon-based mixologist Ryan Magarian (of Portland’s Oven & Shaker), Porter—along with Jade Bar’s other craft bartenders—have been given free reign to develop their own signature cocktails for potential inclusion on the menu. Judging by the throngs that flock to Jade Bar’s ‘The Pour’ premium daily happy hour (4 to 7pm) to peruse the inventive, ever-changing cocktail menu, it’s an experiment that has exceeded expectations, especially for the discerning cocktail enthusiast.

Porter generously agreed to let me share recipes for some of his tantalizing creations. So, break out the juicer and the muddler—and prepare to wake-up your tastebuds. Cheers!


Pepper Smash #2 

This delicious concoction was described by Porter as a “Mojito by way of the Mad Hatter.” The whole time I was watching him make it, I’m thinking, “Why have I never thought of juicing a bell pepper before?”

  • 3/4 oz. fresh yellow bell pepper juice
  • 3/4 oz. Grade A maple syrup (50% water)
  • 1-1/2 oz. Aquavit
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)

The Phoenix 

One of Porter’s original creations, The Phoenix is light and refreshing with a high citrus note.

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/4 oz. honey
  • 1-1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • ground black pepper
  • Rosemary aromatic – (Porter creates his own herb-infused aromatics with 50% water + 50% sugar dispensed in a Misto sprayer)

Razzle Dazzle (SW Bramble)

Tired of margaritas? This fruit and ginger-forward drink is a refreshing alternative.

  • Fresh blackberry, ginger, sage and lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 oz. silver tequila

Jade Cucumber Gimlet

Another of Porter’s creations, this Gimlet made with cucumber-infused gin is (in my opinion) one of the best things on the menu.

  • 3 cucumber slices
  • Mint sprigs
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle the above ingredients together before adding alcohol:

  • 1/4 oz. St. Germaine (a French liqueur made from Elderflower blossoms)
  • 2 oz. Martin Miller gin (a premium gin from Iceland made from 10 carefully selected botanicals)
  • 3/4 oz. pasteurized egg white

Double-shake ingredients together, using ice the first time. Garnish with sugar-snap peas that have been infused with gin for 2 weeks (Robert recommends Nolet’s Dry Gin).

Serve and enjoy!

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

For even more inventive ideas, view and print these full-color Mixology recipe cards. You can also sign up for Jade Bar’s complimentary newsletter to receive new recipes as they become available.


To attend a future Mixology at Jade Bar, check out their upcoming calendar to see which spirit will be showcased that particular week. Then, make reservations by calling: 480.607.2300

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain
5700 East McDonald Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85253

Click here for driving directions.


All photos (unless otherwise noted): © Tiffany Owens | May not be reproduced without permission.

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