The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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IN THE BIZ Arizona Rising YOUNG'S MARKET COMPANY'S JASON ASHER EXPLAINS HOW THE WEST IS WILDER THAN EVER WHEN IT COMES TO UNIQUE SPIRITS by Rachel Burkons / photo by Jeremy Ball W Jason Asher is the Mixologist for Young's Market Company Arizona. 56  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 hen THE TASTING PANEL moseyed in to Scottsdale, AZ for the second annual Arizona Cocktail Week (see page 122 for more AZCW goodness), everywhere we looked, there was Jason Asher. From juicing countless pounds of citrus in the prep kitchen, to speaking on a seminar panel about the fundamentals of cocktail and food pairings, every time we saw Asher, the man was on the move. While serving on the board of a cocktail week is enough to make anyone's head spin, for Asher, this sort of multitasking is de rigueur year-round in the burgeoning Arizona cocktail scene. After years as a working mixologist at hotspots like the spectacular Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, Asher has joined the ranks as Mixologist for Young's Market Company Arizona, where his work reflects a change in the way this distributor is doing business nationwide. "The world of mixology is expanding everywhere," says Asher, "and Young's is seeing this as more than a trend: It's a paradigm shift toward a whole new way of thinking." While distributors like Young's are making moves to cater more closely to today's modern mixology bars, tapping into the talented locals like Asher has proven to be imperative. "Having solid relationships with the mixology community here has really given me an insight into what they really want and need, and it's really valuable for me to pass that along to the higher-ups," he says. "And they're listening." In order to better meet the need of his customers, Asher personally takes the time to understand each account's needs, with preliminary questionnaires and interviews giving Asher a detailed look at who they are and what they want. "This sort of individualized attention is imperative," says Asher. "It's about understanding what the accounts need—not trying to force products down their throat to fit with some arbitrary number." So what can Asher report that the Arizona market is clamoring for? "Ninety-five percent are interested in craft spirits," he says. "Our community is really innovative, and I think, in a lot of ways, that stems all the way back to the history of Arizona—even places like Tombstone. People weren't just drinking beer or bad whiskey back then; there was a great cocktail culture in old Tombstone!" With Asher helping Young's Market carry on the tradition of great cocktails in the Wild West, Arizona is one market certainly on the rise. "We're ahead of the curve here," he says, with utmost confidence in the culture he and his peers are cultivating. "We are making some seriously great things happen."

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