As with most things across Southern Arizona, the Sonoran Desert shaped the history of alcoholic beverages in our region.
The Arizona Historical Society wanted to do more than just dig back into paper archives:they’ve enlisted local distillers and brewers to help museum guests peer through the glass and walk through a brand new exhibit.
“This is truly a kind of toast to those people and their influences here,” said Vanessa Fajardo, the Arizona Historical Society’s exhibits supervisor.
Fajardo shared how her research led her to look at past brewing practices. She says access to water determined how entrepreneurs, like Alex Levin and his Pioneer Brewing Company, kept their enterprises afloat.
“(They’re) the first brewery here in the Arizona Territory. He kept moving because of water sources,” Fajardo said. “The wells either would go bad, he’d run out of water and he would just keep moving in order to be able to still brew.”
Fajardo and the AHS team are distilling their new-found knowledge to bring the Drinking Local exhibit to life. In this process, the curators feel like students of the craft of drink-making.
“I’ve never done any of it, but yeah, it’s always sort of intrigued me,” society preparator Eli Blasko said. “Through this exhibition, I’ve gotten to learn a ton about the process.”
One tangible piece of the exhibit is a bar from Tombstone that was likely used in a private VIP room inside the Birdcage Theater the stomping ground of legendary figures like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
Fajardo said once guests wrap up their visit, they can then check out the living history for themselves at local businesses.
“You’re able to go to these places,” Fajardo said. “You’re able to talk to these brewers, distillers, winemakers, and get all of the information; talk to them about why they do it.”
Tickets to the exhibit can be purchased in-person or online.