21 Bars in Phoenix That Belong on Your Must-Visit List
From cozy dives to cocktail lounges, this is where you should be drinking in Phoenix.
There was a point in time where trying to find a good drink in Phoenix was a pretty limiting affair. But over the last decade, Phoenix has consistently grown in population, drawing in tech workers and younger demographics, all looking for more variety in their bar choices. The city instituted AZ Cocktail Week to educate the public on what they were missing before foundational locations like Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour started.. Now, with a plethora of award-winning cocktail bars, dimly lit lounges, speakeasies, themed drinking dens, and some classic haunts, The Valley has defined itself as a bona fide drinking destination. . With no shortage of options to visit, here are the best bars in Phoenix—new and old—you should visit right now.
From the minds that brought you Belly Kitchen & Bar and Sin Muerte comes a new cocktail bar set in a historic downtown storefront. The cocktail menu at Quartz is an ode to and draws inspiration from the 12 birthstones and each gem’s characteristics. Try a Peridot Periquito with nopal cactus and Oaxacan gin or the Turquoise Dilemma with Mexican corn whiskey and charred tortilla bitters. There’s also reservation-only seating in The Cave at Quartz, a separate area carved out for these 90-minute experiences with desert-themed cocktails.
Keeping things very old-school with a hint of Midwest, Thunderbird Lounge is a beloved ’70s outpost in a modern world. With linoleum floors and walls paneled in wood, don’t be surprised to come across the cigarette menu mingling with the drink selection. Full of free vintage arcade games and known for buzzy events, Thunderbird Lounge is the perfect place to throw it back.
Billed as the “world’s first mead and food pairing restaurant,” Superstition Meadery has brought locally crafted mead to The Valley. To produce different styles such as Cyser and Metheglin, Superstition Meadery uses Arizona honey, herbs, and apples—along with some other surprising flavors. If you’re new to mead, try the flight of 12 to get a sense of the liquor. Superstition’s food menu is equally surprising, offering everything from arepas to bison to chicken mole tacos.
Khla, which means “tiger” in Khmer, is a tribute to the flavors of Southeast and East Asia. Murals and lanterns decorate the indoor-outdoor space with brightly colored cloths decorating the tables. A paper takeout-style menu greets drinkers, the simplicity masks the complexity of the cocktails offered. Drinks like the fruity and spicy Saigon Sour or the purple Manilla Ice with ube and Jamaican rum are both eye-catching and perfect examples of the Southeast and East Asian influences manifested in Khla’s menu. Try out The Silk Road, which is clarified to turn the soy milk and infused bourbon cocktail into a boozy take on Thai iced tea.
Admittedly not the easiest building to find or access (there’s specific directions on the website about how to get there), the cantina and basement bar is worth the search. A two-story altar to agave spirits, BARCOA Agaveria honors more than just tequila and mezcal. Find bottles of agave-like cousins bacanora, sotol, and raicilla available, too. Upstairs a casual bar with an open-air patio and connected to the next door art gallery is a comfortable spot to spend an afternoon sipping a Vampiro (tequila, sangrita, lime, and orange soda) or Carajillo (Licor 43 with espresso). Meanwhile, downstairs the basement bar sports cozy corner tables and a large bar where you can peruse the lengthy menu of rare and hard-to-find agave spirits. Try the Leche de Pistachio with mezcal and house-made pistachio milk or the Campo de Coles made with a red cabbage cordial and charanda, a Michoacan-style rum.
If you think you can glean much information from Bar 1912’s website, don’t bother. The bar at the back of Valentine has a modern-meets-minimalist vibe mixed with home state pride. Drinks are based on local spirits and inspired by the Five C’s of Arizona: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate. There are no reservations, just first come, first served, with seats amongst the sounds of the numerous records on the vinyl player. Expect surprises and classic cocktails with a twist, like the Manhattan that includes bone marrow.
There’s no mistaking the inspiration behind Rough Rider. From the turn-of-the-century decor to the large portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, this basement speakeasy is like a peek into the past. There are horseshoe-shaped booths and a gorgeous marble bar; the menu’s 19th century design helps to frame the Victorian-inspired cocktails. Try one of the original recipes from Roosevelt’s era, like a Midnight Forest with apple cider vinegar and caramelized fig cordial or Through the Looking Glass from the modern recipes with gin, hibiscus, and champagne. Options are rounded out with traditional drinks of the time, like tea punches and cobbler-style cocktails.
So Far, So Good
Phoenix’s bars can come in all shapes and sizes. So Far, So Good happens to come in a shipping container. Situated at The Churchill, a collaborative community space downtown with multiple small businesses, So Far, So Good adds a bit of ’90s grunge and ’70s cool to the eclectic venue. Creative and thoughtfully crafted drinks are expertly done but are offered in a straightforward manner. Look for drinks like the Pain-Chiller with spiced pineapple rum and green chartreuse or the Return of the Wonky-Eye, a tropical and tart concoction of hibiscus-infused vodka with papaya and mango liqueur.
The Pemberton, another collective space with dining, shopping, and, of course, drinking, is home to the 1970s Airstream trailer that contains Baby Boy. It throws things back to the days where tropical cocktails were all the rage—except now, they’re doing them in the desert. The bar is a go-to for tropical, frozen cocktails that will transport you to the beach with drinks like the Oaxacolada made with mezcal, coconut, lime, pineapple, and bitters.
Garden Bar PHX
Situated in a 1914 bungalow, Garden Bar is among the growing crowd of food and beverage spaces looking to salvage some of Phoenix’s history. Even better, the renovated house was left looking like, well, a house, so you feel like you’re enjoying an evening drink with the neighbors. There are cozy spots and comfy chairs and everything just makes you want to relax and stay—especially the drinks. The menu changes with the season, with James Beard-honored and storied mixologist Kim Haasarud at the helm. Cocktails could be anything from a Plush Port Punch with clarified milk punch, ruby port, and rose to the Kilroy Was Here, a nod to previous Irish owners (Irish whiskey, black tea, peach, and mint).
Few things are better than a Phoenix sunset, so the view from Don Woods’ Say When helped turn it into the hotspot it is today. Of course, so did the ’60s-inspired decor and vast selection of old-school spritzes and highballs, letting you spend an evening in your personal version of Mad Men. The bar at the top of Rise Uptown Hotel includes some sharp appetizers to nibble on while sipping on their impressive cocktails. Try the Ghost of Mamie Taylor, with Laphroaig, ginger ale, Harleston Green Scotch and yuzu citrus blend.
Ahead of its arrival, we had high expectations of this elegant cocktail bar seeing as co-owner Ross Simon is the genius behind Bitter & Twisted. It’s successfully lived up to and surpassed the hype, serving quality classics alongside fun, new creations like the Ponzi Scheme made with saffron bitters and marigold-infused Amaro Montenegro. While what’s in your glass will be more than enough to keep your interest, Little Rituals is upgrading the entire menu, with everything made in-house, including bread that is baked to order.
Highball Cocktail Bar
Highball sits on the second floor of a building at McDowell and 7th Avenue, conveniently close to I-10. From its copper-plated bar comes a meticulously detailed menu of craft cocktails, spanning from shaken and stirred concoctions to a designed-to-share, large-format punch that’s perfect for small groups. Try Between The Blades which includes Peruvian brandy and cacao Thai coconut creme. The small but tasty food menu comes courtesy of The Good Food Table.
Killer Whale Sex Club (KWSC)
With pink and teal murals across the outside, Killer Whale Sex Club is unmissable in its spot on Roosevelt Row. The tiny spot, which strongly recommends reservations, runs the gauntlet in terms of craft cocktails—keep an eye out for menu updates—but can also handle classics with ease. They do not serve food but once you’ve hit your strict 90-minute reservation allotment, there’s plenty to wander to in the area.
Taking the concept of a bar crawl and making it extremely easy, Century Grand has combined three exceptional cocktail bars into one amalgamation for cocktail enthusiasts. Inspired by the turn of the century and the train travel of yesteryear, Platform 18 resembles a moving carriage traveling across the transcontinental railroad, complete with sights and sounds to truly immerse its patrons. Nearby is Grey Hen, a New Orleans–styled apothecary bar with some serious bourbons and whiskeys on the menu. Finally, award-winning tiki bar UnderTow gives drinkers the chance to follow along the journey of Captain John Mallory while sipping some intense libations.
If you feel like there isn’t enough tribute to ’70s glam rock in the drinking world, Stardust Pinbar is here to fix things. The pinball lounge with rock-and-roll-inspired drinks honors David Bowie with its ultra-glam decor and a cocktail menu with a Ziggy Pop and Stardust Sling on it. The barcade has a light-up dance floor, retro artwork on the walls, and neon everywhere you look, plus the pinball machines your 10-year-old self can’t wait to play. You can find the secret entrance to Stardust Pinbar through Ziggy’s, the attached pizza shop with ‘magic pies.’
Combining alcohol and caffeine make for a fun combination. Provision, with its specialty coffees and a great cocktail menu, knows this. Explore an impressive amaro selection as well as low-ABV Japanese Highballs. If it’s coffee you seek, check out the Habanero Mocha to (literally) spice things up. No matter what you’re drinking, don’t forget to check out the food menu with pizzas, charcuterie, and small plates.
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
One of the OGs that started it all, Bitter & Twisted remains one of the best places to get a drink in Phoenix. Whether you’ve been once or a hundred times, B&T always manages to impress with its dark and whimsical drink menu, presented as a fairytale book. With dozens of classic and inventive cocktails, there are safe bets and experimental tipples alike. Try the Bear Witness consisting of Iichiko Shochu Saiten, yuzu marmalade, and pink-peppercorn-honey syrup. While you’re there, feast on the new food menu, courtesy ofThe Breadfruit, which is serving up its legendary Jamaican dishes like jerk pulled pork with chayote pickles and plantain/avocado spring rolls.
The Captain's Cabin
The rum’s always flowing when the red light is glowing outside of the industrial-looking door that grants your crew access into this dimly lit drinking den. The Captain’s Cabin, next to Hula’s Modern Tiki bar, opens up as a 1940s Tahitian sailor’s bar three nights a week. The signature drinks menu keeps you firmly in that theme, with selections like The Wench, Skallywag, and Crow’s Nest. There’s plenty of rum, of course, with tasting flights available but non-rum fans won’t be disappointed either.
Gracie's Tax Bar
In a world of more and more clever and creative cocktails, sometimes you just need a Gracie’s Tax Bar. They sell greasy food and cheap drinks, providing both late into the night. Also, according to their website, they’re nice too. A mainstay on 7th Avenue for years, Gracie’s still is vaguely reminiscent of the tax firm it used to be, with the fading ATS Tax Service name still painted on the building. There’s nothing pretentious or overly complicated here, but sometimes all you need is a pitcher of Miller High Life and onion rings to make things right.
This former department store–turned–restaurant and bar is in the perfect location for happy hour drinks after work or catching a cocktail before a game or show. There are decorative nods to the location’s retail past, and the atmosphere sets itself up for a great classic cocktail, which they do incredibly well. Sidecar, martini, Singapore Sling—they’re all here accompanied by a food menu of fairly standard items, all done well.