Escape Reality in This San Diego Tiki Bar Speakeasy
Perfect bruschetta paired with the best wine list in the Valley
The magicians at Upward Projects have wooed us with a handful of Phoenix eatery staples (Joyride, Federal Pizza, Churn), but let’s face it: Postino is our favorite. Not just for the wine cafe’s hip, laid-back vibe, but for its service, top-notch food offerings, extensive wine lineup, and one of the best happy hours in town. On Mondays and Tuesdays, $20 buys you a bottle of house wine and one of Postino’s famous bruschettas.
Where all your rum fantasies are realized
This heavily-awarded Downtown Phoenix drinking spot is unlike anything else you can find in the Valley. You can’t go here and not order a rum cocktail -- we’re telling you this because we don’t want your mixologist to look at you funny -- because The Breadfruit has a lineup of some of the best rums you can find in Arizona, over 150, in fact. Here you can even pair a cigar with your rum cocktail as Breadfruit has a well-curated humidor full of fine cigars on site -- just be sure to light up on the patio. Breadfruit also offers a Jamaican-influenced dinner menu that features jet-fresh seafood and ingredients sourced from local farms right here in Arizona.
A taste of the islands in Phoenix
Here in Phoenix, we’re about as landlocked as you can get. But take the steep stairs down to the dark, cool depths of Arcadia’s UnderTow and you might just feel like you’re gallantly navigating the West Indies. At this cozy, tiki-style cocktail bar, you can sip from a lineup of nautical-themed drinks like the Dutchman’s Demise or The Smoking Cannon. Before you set sail, we encourage making a reservation. Space aboard this ship is limited, and it’s best you call ahead.
The best place to drink like the Irish
We’ve heard that this Tempe hangout is haunted, and it probably is, but that shouldn’t stop you from popping into Casey Moore’s for a cold one or short glass of Irish whiskey. You can even order fresh oysters, shrimp boats, and entrees like fish and chips to fill your belly. It's popular, so expect a crowd, but it's a great place to enjoy a whiskey and a beer (or two, or three).
The Valley’s ideal spot for sophisticated sipping
There’s certainly no shortage of great hotel bars and restaurants in Phoenix, and Blue Hound inside Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape is no exception. The American gastro-lounge’s handcrafted cocktails and Chef Sean Currid's contemporary, seasonally inspired menus offer a refreshing taste of what’s growing in Arizona. Fans of whiskey, bourbon, and brandy have something to get excited about, too, because Blue Hound offers the largest menu of brown spirits in The Valley.
Indecisive beer lovers beware: tons of options here
This Downtown Phoenix beer bar has 31 direct-draw beer taps (a system that ensures there is no more than 6ft of line between the keg and your glass) and offers a rotating selection of both local and regional craft brews, as well as a handful of beers from across the country and beyond -- which makes it the perfect place to start or end a Phoenix bar crawl. As if that wasn’t reason enough to visit Angel’s Trumpet, be sure check out the spot on Tuesday nights for their TV dinner specials. And, for the kids at heart, they’ve also got house made pop tarts -- yum!
Old Town Scottsdale
Constantly changing themes for unexpected cocktails -- every time
The craft cocktail scene in Phoenix is taking off, thanks to a handful of talented mixologists behind the bar (like our pick for the 2016 Bartender of the Year, Keifer Gilbert) and the creative geniuses behind the scenes: Counter Intuitive GM Rich Furnari and head of the CI culinary team Garrison Whiting. Put them all together and stir the pot and you get great cocktail bars like Scottsdale’s Counter Intuitive. This standout cocktail bar is ever-changing, switching things up with its “episodes” that reflect a different time or different part of the world. This means the menus and the scenery are constantly changing. You’ll just have to stop by to see what’s happening now.
Uniquely Arizona brews, plus yoga
The Tempe-based, husband- and wife-owned Huss Brewery churns out a variety of different (and award-winning) brews, most notably their Scottsdale Blonde and Koffee Kolsch, which tastes, and smells, just like coffee. They are also the OG “yoga in the brewery” destination -- so you can thank them for all of the copycat yoga pop-ups around town.
Like drinking in a basement, but with better music and better booze
Cocktail bar? Dive bar? Speakeasy? Great place to see live music? Valley Bar doesn’t quite fit into one single category and that’s why we’re so fond of the place. Here you can catch a comedy show, a live music performance, chill in the cocktail lounge, or let your competitive side run rampant in the game room. If you like your politics with a touch of cheeky humor, you’ll appreciate the cocktail menu since more than 50 drinks are named after notable and/or infamous local politicians. Valley Bar’s lounge is named The Rose Room after the late Rose Mofford, Arizona’s first and (by far coolest) lady governor.
Where you can have a beer and pet a dog
This uber-casual, dog-friendly nano-brewery is the ultimate patio destination, and it also happens to be one of the best Phoenix beer bars. You’ll want to spend a full day at this place --- and why not? O.H.S.O. offers a tap list of their own beer and a wide offering of local libations from Arizona brewers. And then there’s Beer Brunch. On Saturdays and Sundays from 9am until 2pm, you can get a 10-ounce AZ beer (or mimosa, but c’mon, man) with your order. And if you’re wondering, the acronym is short for Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost.
Everything’s retro except for the drinks
This Garfield neighborhood spot is most frequented for its late-night eats. But in addition to the biscuits, burgers, poutine, and everyone’s favorite watermelon salad, Welcome Diner has a short list of cocktails that every local should try at least once. Choose a classic or go Welcome-style with a cocktail like the Kentucky Thoroughbred (made with Four Roses bourbon and Welcome’s own house ginger beer), or the Paloma with ingredients like tequila, hurricane juice, and grapefruit Jarritos. Space at the bar is tight so we suggest ordering your cocktail and heading out to a picnic table.
Old Town Scottsdale
The Valley’s (un)official holiday bar
Scottsdale’s oldest bar is among the best dive bars in the area, slinging booze 365 days a year, beginning at 6am. (No, that is not a typo.) Since it’s open year-round, Coach House is obviously open on December 25, and the fact that it’s entirely covered in lights makes it one of the most festive spots in town. So, if you’re not quite ready to let go of your holiday cheer, this is the perfect celebration spot for you.
The gold standard of local beer in Phoenix
Four Peaks is the quintessential Arizona brewery. The Eighth Street original is one of Tempe’s essential restaurants -- and for good reason. Whether you prefer mainstays like Kilt Lifter or the Peach Ale, or if you’re into the seasonal brews, you can rest-assured that you’ll find something on the menu that pairs perfectly with your beer. Now, with multiple locations across the Valley, all craft beer supporters and pub food-lovers can get a taste. Stop by happy hour at the Tempe flagship from 2pm-6pm for a buck off pints and $4 off pitchers.
For a drink with stunning views and a swanky atmosphere
Sanctuary on Camelback is one of The Valley’s most beautiful resorts, so naturally its bar would be similarly stunning. Not only is the aesthetic impressive, but Jade Bar ups the ante when it comes to all things cocktails -- whether you’re searching for a great happy hour spot or want to learn more about craft mixology. The bar is home to events like the cocktail-making showdown Bar Brawl, Mixology 101 on Saturdays, live music Fridays and Sundays, and a Monday through Thursday happy hour called The Pour that puts others to shame. The menu is divided into Jade classics, vintage cocktails, elemental, and tiki-style, meaning there’s a category for every taste.
For a step back to the days of Prohibition
Prohibition didn’t stop us way back when, and Downtown Chandler’s The Ostrich is evidence of just that. Located in the forgotten tunnels under Crowne Plaza, this once-secret drinking hideaway is no longer a secret but it’s still got the basement speakeasy vibe and the vintage-style cocktails. Behind the bar you can find a team of nationally celebrated mixologists which includes Maxton Kennedy and Brandon Casey. The underground bar is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Phoenix’s worst-kept secret for craft cocktails
Craft cocktails are king at Downtown Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted. Not only is this Phoenix staple one of the best bars in Arizona, but Bitter & Twisted has been cited as one of the best cocktail bars in the country, and we can’t argue with that. We frequent this spot on the weekends for its Duck Bath Punch -- sharing is caring -- and admittedly, we very much enjoy the Pornstar Martini.
Daily (free) live music and great food and drink options
The kitchen at Crescent Ballroom, called Cocina 10 for its proximity to the 1-10 and the surrounding neighborhood, is overseen by Chris Bianco (yes, of Bianco’s, the man responsible for Arizona’s most important food innovation) and Doug Robson. Mix and match tacos, Sonoran dogs, nachos, and other bar bites make up most of the menu here, but let’s get back to the booze. The lounge is open everyday, and it’s free to get it in -- meaning you don’t have to purchase tickets to a show at the venue to be able to enjoy a drink or two. There’s free live music every single day, and Crescent has a pretty incomparable happy hour, with deep discounts on eats and drinks, including cocktails, wine, and beer. It’s a great place to kick back for a couple hours with a drink in hand.
Old Town Scottsdale
A go-to spot for whiskey lovers
Scottsdale’s upscale whiskey bar, which was named one of the most beautiful bars in Phoenix, is the place to go if you’re in the mood for dark spirits in a dimly lit setting. Specializing in old-school cocktails, Second Story Liquor Bar offers an impressive, yet easy to understand, cocktail lineup, which includes standouts like What’s Up Doc, the feminine Every Rosé has its Thorn, and Rye So Serious, in addition to whiskey classics like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan. You can choose from over 200 whiskeys here, but don’t be intimidated: If you’d like to taste a few just ask for a whiskey flight; it’s an approachable way to learn about the spirit while tasting something new.
Cheap, comfortable, simple bar beyond reproach
Funky artwork, Formica tabletops, and a taxidermied javelina head are just some of the decor elements that make up the vintage vibe of this new downtown drinkery. Taking up residence in a 1970s tax-service building, Gracie’s is a no-frills bar with cheap drinks and a kitchen that stays until the early morning hours. In an area saturated with $13 cocktails, Gracie’s $3.75 well drinks are a very welcome addition.
An ass-kicking rookie in the Phoenix brewing scene
Named one of Beer Advocate's best new breweries in 2016, Helio Basin is a rising star in Phoenix’s already notable brew scene. Starting as home brewers in college more than 15 years ago, owners Mike Conley and Dustin Hazer reconnected to start this operation. For a kick in the ABV, try the Throwback double IPA, or play it safe with the house 602 Brew, which pairs excellently with Chef Tamara Stanger’s elevated bar food. And we don’t miss out on the four-course ice cream and beer flights.
Pizza royalty’s delicious foray into booze
Bar Bianco is situated on the oldest residential block in Phoenix, neighboring the original Pizzeria Bianco, Nobuo at Teeter House, Royal Coffee Bar, and The Rose and Crown. Residing in the Thomas House, the establishment offers a wide selection of seasonal cocktails, craft beer, wines from near and far, and bar snacks like honey and chili-roasted pecans.
Where the Go Juice is as good as the games
Gamers are geeking out over Cobra Arcade. The Roosevelt neighborhood bar is packed wall-to-wall with old-school arcade games like Street Fighter, Pac-Man, and enough pinball machines for your entire crew. The cocktails here are appropriately named, like the vodka-based Princess Peach or the rye Asteroid; the beer list has two dozen options, and there’s even a Go Juice menu of energy drinks to keep you popping quarters into the machines.
North Central Phoenix
A vintage-inspired spot for the old soul
There are good times to be had in this dark, sexy hideout, thanks to the top-notch cocktails and live soul music. Imbibe classic martinis, sidecars, and tiki drinks, or order something sweet like the Pink Squirrel, topped with housemade whipped cream. If you’re hungry, The Womack features shareable bites from popcorn and spicy nuts to a lobster caprese board.
A food lover’s dream bar, plus a whole lot of whiskey
The Biltmore restaurant is popular for its upscale comfort food, but it has also long been a hot spot for happy hour and its Sunday brunch. In addition to a cocktail list that goes on for days with over 200 whiskeys, The Gladly features Arizona-brewed beers, a great selection of wines, and a menu featuring everything from octopus to duck meatloaf.
A sip of Mexico straight from the tap
Chef Jeremy Pacheco’s food isn’t the only thing that’s great at the PV hideout. LON’s has quite the selection of locally distilled and craft spirits, including Hamilton Distillers Del Bac whiskey and CaskWerks gin. But our recommendation is the house margarita: it’s always on tap and can be flavored with syrups like prickly pear and hibiscus.
Where seafood pairs perfectly with tequila
Known mostly for its unparalleled raw bar and Sushi Sundays, Buck & Rider’s collection of craft cocktail offerings are worth your while, too. Head to the patio bar and enjoy a libation alfresco, like the Diego Rivera made with Frida Kahlo tequila blanco or the bourbon-heavy Your Money or Your Life. Best of all, Buck & Rider’s happy hour spans from 11am to 7pm every day.
The dive bar every neighborhood needs
A dive seemingly suited for bad decisions, Shady’s is your go-to spot for guzzling cheap beer, loading up the jukebox, and challenging a stranger to a game of pool. You can also get top-shelf spirits without a high markup, all served without any pretension. For a laid-back evening with some of the best cocktails in town, this is definitely your spot.
Two decades of classic cocktails worth dressing up for
If we had to pick one cocktail bar that we think Frank Sinatra would most enjoy, this would be it, and if it’s good enough for Frank Sinatra, then it’s good enough for you. This swanky cocktail bar has enjoyed over 20 years of success in the Valley, but the concept originated in Soho. It offers up cocktails like the Purple Rain, with tequila, concord grape, lime juice, and agave, the Gold Rush, with bourbon whiskey, honey, and lemon, and the bright and fresh Sophia Loren, with citron vodka, Cointreau, strawberry puree, mint, and lime.
Neighborhood hangout for grub, games, and lots of drinks
The Little Woody is one of Phoenix’s most prized neighborhood bars; not only do you have some pretty intriguing drink options, like a whiskey flight or the Arizona mule with vodka, Angostura, lime, mint, and ginger beer, but the games and comfort food selection are also top notch. It’s almost like drinking in the comfort of your own home, but even better.
A themed joint with vodka and actual vintage camping trailers inside
We all miss summer camp -- it was a simpler time with no stress or responsibilities -- and if you drink enough at the kitschy, cabin-themed Camp Social you might be able to relive that feeling. With cocktails like the S’more Lovin’, with vanilla vodka, chocolate, marshmallow, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup, or the Arizona Summer with tequila, chile liquor, watermelon, and jalapeño, it’s hard to go wrong.
The sophisticated speakeasy, no Prohibition required
This sophisticated, speakeasy-style bar (that you have to enter through the back staircase, of course) will transport you back to the roaring '20s -- but fortunately the drinks are anything but old-fashioned. Cocktails like Ryse & Fall with rye, fresh grapefruit, lemon juice, ginger syrup, and creme de violette will instantly make Honor Amongst Thieves one of your favorite spots, and the fun atmosphere of live music on Wednesdays and weekend DJs won’t hurt either.
Old Town Scottsdale and Phoenix
Moonshine and barbecue hole-in-the-wall
If you love moonshine, this Southwest-themed spot will be your new favorite drinking destination. While the barbecue is great, the house-made hooch is the real star here. You can go with the classics, like the apple pie or strawberry, try a flight, or sample a moonshine cocktail, like the Hazzard County Peach Tea with smoky peach moonshine, tea, and lemonade. Don’t worry if moonshine isn’t your favorite either -- there are plenty of beers, wines, and other craft cocktails to try as well.