When people ask where you live and you tell them “Flagstaff” or “Northern Arizona,” how often have you heard in response, “Oh, you’re livin’ the dream!” So many of our friends and relatives who don’t live in Northern Arizona are envious of our lives here in the High Country.
Those are the folks who would be especially appreciative if you gave them a slice of Flagstaff life this holiday season. Here are three personal or corporate gift-giving ideas that have roots in our mountain town. Buying from local businesses also ensures that your money stays in our community to support jobs and local services.
Sharing holiday cheer is easy when you gift premium, small-batch artisanal spirits produced right here in Flagstaff. Canyon Diablo Spirits crafts award-winning, world-class spirits from its operations just off Route 66. The name was inspired by Canyon Diablo, Arizona, the real life, but short lived, Wild West town of 1880-1882.
“Through our hand-crafted spirits, we want to tell the stories of Canyon Diablo and its characters and events,” said Joe Pendergast, co-owner. “The labels were drawn and created here in Flagstaff by our friends at Burly Fish Tattoo.” The spirits, bottled in handsome containers and labeled with detailed local artwork, are a perfect way to give a piece of Flagstaff. Monument Valley’s iconic mittens are depicted under storm clouds on the Desert Rain Gin label. The Two Ghosts Chili Pepper Flavored Vodka’s label features twin death-mask peppers and a revolver that harkens to the historic Two Guns area situated on Canyon Diablo about 30 miles east of town. A bird’s eye view of the canyon is illustrated on the Grand Canyon Vodka label. The colorful flowering cactus on the Sonoran Rose Prickly Pear flavored vodka label is bound to move your gift to the top shelf.
The Flagstaff distillery is made up of three partners Joe Pendergast, director of sales and marketing, Randy Ahern, executive manager and Dana Kanzler, distiller. Kanzler was the first legal distiller in Arizona with his earlier venture, Arizona High Spirits.
“We will release a hand-crafted whiskey at the first part of the year to help with those winter blues,” smiled Pendergast. Canyon Diablos’ Desert Rain gin and Sonoran Rose Prickly Pear flavored vodka just captured silver medals earlier this year in the New York International Spirits Competition.
Find the premium spirits at Basha’s, Cork and Bottle, Majestic Marketplace or Express Liquors. The elegantly labeled bottles make beautiful gifts, all you need to add is a bow… and some ice.
Speaking of ice, the Grand Canyon State can be a little harsh on frozen water if you need it for big outdoor parties, camping trips, preserving your bounty on a fishing or hunting trip or keeping food and beer cold on a two-week Colorado River trip where temperatures can exceed 100℉. Enter Canyon Coolers, super tough cooler systems designed to take extreme climates and rugged terrain, a perfect gift from Flagstaff.
The coolers originally designed for professionals working on the Colorado River Grand Canyon corridor now come in sizes to fit any activity. From the 22-quart Outfitter that you can carry over your shoulder to the 222-quart cooler that retains ice up to 27 days and is big enough to store elk, moose or several deer, you’ll find a size that matches your outdoor enthusiast’s needs.
“Flagstaff, with its proximity to the Grand Canyon and outdoors lifestyle makes a perfect base for us,” said Jason Costello, CEO. “It makes us more authentic than if we were a cooler company selling outdoor gear out of a Dallas suburb.” Canyon Coolers is a company that is owned and operated in Flagstaff. The coolers that are stacked in the Flagstaff warehouse just off Butler Avenue are manufactured in Thailand.
Costello, an avid river runner, bought Galaxy Coolers and the company’s cooler mold more than 15 years ago. “Jason redesigned the mold into what we have today,” said Leah Heffelfinger, marketing coordinator of the Flagstaff company that employs seven-plus people. The thoughtfully redesigned shape is streamlined with flat edges so coolers can be stacked easily in a boat or pickup. Hinges and latching systems are flush-mounted, and drain plugs are engineered so they cannot come off the cooler.
The company has seen substantial growth since incorporating in 2011. “This year, we’re on track to double our sales over last year,” said Heffelfinger. While Canyon Coolers are available in more than 300 locations across the United States and Canada, Eric Boatner, director of sales, continues to make inroads to new chain retailers. Locally, the coolers, complete with lifetime warranties, can be purchased at Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters, Bull Basin Archery, HomCo Lumber and Hardware, Olsen’s Grain, Peace Surplus, Sportsman’s Warehouse and online. In December, when you spend $100 online, you get a free tumbler.
Another way to share a slice of Flagstaff is to gift RisingHy habanero hot sauce and gourmet specialty sauces. RisingHy is a well-recognized Flagstaff brand that is sure to spice up your holiday gift giving. The creators of the sauces touch, fill and label every bottle by hand right here in Flagstaff.
“The condiments are designed to be used before, during or after cooking,” explained owner Mike Konefal. “We’ve developed everything from marinades to finishing sauces that can be used from the grill to the sauté pan.” The unique recipes for products that include “Honey Mustard,” “Devil Dust,” “GreenGo Sauce” and “Devil Salt” were developed by Mike and his brother, Brian Konefal, chef owner of Coppa Café. The seasonal “Citrus Ginger Cranberry” chutney is spot-on for foodies on your gift list.
“Because we use natural ingredients, it doesn’t overpower your food,” added Dawn Graham, co-owner and vice president of sales. Organic habaneros, local Mountain Top Honey and citrus from the Valley of the Sun are some of the special ingredients.
“We source as much as possible from our own backyard,” said Mike Konefal, who started developing the hot sauce company while he was a student at Northern Arizona University. “After a botched beer brewing kit exploded all over my room during sophomore year, my roommate bought me a hot sauce making kit as a joke,” explained the epicurean. By his senior year in 2005, he had formed the LLC and finally launched Flagstaff’s first and only line of specialty sauces in 2008. A caricature of his roommate now appears on every RisingHy label.
Spice up your holiday season with gourmet condiments available at Basha’s on the Hill, Flagstaff Farmers Market, HomCo Lumber and Hardware, Peace Surplus, Natural Grocers or at RisingHy’s retail location or website. FBN
By Stacey Wittig, FBN
495 East Brannan Avenue,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Canyon Diablo Spirits
506 N. Grant St, Ste C
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
2114 N Fourth St, Flagstaff, AZ 86004