Haven’t been to the Good Oak yet? I beg to differ.
The Good Oak is where we all live. As the theory goes, the state of Arizona takes its name from the Basque word meaning “the good oak tree,” after a Spanish ranch nestled in the oak woodlands southwest of Tumacácori.
But the Good Oak is also an incredible cocktail bar, and if you haven’t yet stepped inside its downtown walls, I suggest you make the trip.
Serving nothing but beer and wine from across Arizona, the staff creates all manner of earthly delights: wine snow cones, “bitter beers” spiked with lemon and Angostura, a spicy porter mixed with orange peel, chai tea and chiltepin peppers and cold-brewed in a French press.
With a license for only wine and beer, the folks at Good Oak Bar get creative. Bar Manager Kassie Killebrew, a New Orleans native who has been living in Arizona for the past eight years, draws her inspiration from what’s in season.
When friend and local honey producer Noel Patterson brought over a case of tart calamondin citrus fruits that he picked at the University of Arizona campus, Killebrew used them as the base in her chilled wine cocktail, Respect Your Elders.
Killebrew calls it a “community cocktail.” First, she muddles the tangy little “acid orange,” skin and all, with a few sprigs of local basil, making sure to release the oils from the herb without bruising it.
Other ingredients she throws in: Sauvignon Blanc from Zarpara Vineyards in Willcox, Austrian elder syrup brought in by Patterson (he also works for a distribution company), vibrant blood orange juice from McClendon’s Select farm in Peoria, housemade blueberry zin shrub from Page Springs Cellars.
This sounds like a powerhouse, but the cocktail is actually quite gentle. With a delicate aroma of citrus and flowers, the white wine tastes fresh and light, like something you’d drink on a Sonoma patio in the springtime.
It’s definitely fruity but not overly so, with a creaminess imparted from the elder syrup, and a nice balance of sweet blueberry and tart orange.
Killebrew then skewers an extra calamondin on the top, which you can use to stir the cocktail if you like.
As the last sip lingered on my palate, I took the little ball and peeled it back, eating its snappy sweet skin first, then the explosive fruit which ruptured in my mouth, filling the whole bar area with the smell of an orange grove. An abrupt change, but it felt, somehow fitting.