Beverage Director

The Best Bars in Phoenix Right Now

Century Grand
Century Grand

Here in Phoenix we have an incomparable affection for spirits, suds, local watering holes, honky-tonks, speakeasies, cocktail bars, breweries, and wine cafes. We know that tiki drinks are best when served in underground hideouts. We’re no strangers to the sticky-floored dive bar. And our love for craft beer goes beyond that of an average person.

Like the food scene here, when it comes to drinking, there’s something for every taste. To help decide what to drink in a vast land with no shortage of thirst-quenching options, we’ve created Beverage Director -- your guide to the best places to drink right now. 

Here’s the deal; we’ll keep this list updated on the reg when new and noteworthy bars open up around The Valley. And, as a bonus, we’ve put together a shortlist of the all-time best -- scroll down to find ‘em all.

JUMP TO: NEW & NOTEWORTHY OPENINGS | ALL-TIME BEST BARS

NEW & NOTEWORTHY

Sleepy Whale

Downtown Chandler 
Bottle shop and bar with a lineup of unique beers

Chandler’s Sleepy Whale comes from the same folks behind Phoenix’s Wandering Tortoise. The beer bar features more than 30 taps, predominantly from Arizona-based beer companies. In addition to a lineup of local brews, Sleepy Whale stocks some rare and limited beers as well. Be sure to keep tabs on their IG to see what’s pouring.

Stardust Pinbar

Downtown Phoenix 
Out of this world pinball bar with rock-n-roll-inspired drinks

There’s a new barcade in town. It’s secretly hidden inside of the brand new Ziggy’s Pizza, which shares the same historic locale as The Van Buren. Stardust Pinbar has around 18 vintage pinball machines ready to eat your tokens. The bar is decorated with a David Bowie theme, and sticking with the ‘70s and ‘80s motifs, also has a light-up disco dance floor, retro artwork, and a bar top that has more than 8,500 pinballs encased inside.

Merkin Osteria

Scottsdale
Tasting room for Arizona wines
You’ve probably spotted the Merkin Pizza Wagon zipping around The Valley. But what you might have missed is the opening of Merkin Osteria, a tasting room and eatery that took up residence in the core of Old Town Scottsdale earlier this year. The osteria is the latest concept from Merkin Vineyards, a Jerome-based boutique winery with a focus on French, Spanish, and Italian varietals. Order a wine flight. It’s a good place to start if you’re looking to get acquainted.

cider corps
Cider Corps | Lauren Reichert

Cider Corps

Mesa
Arizona’s first, and largest, craft cidery

Ever dreamed of sipping a cider slushie? Stop dreaming and go here. Cider Corps has perfected the boozy treat and features a rotating catalog of cravable flavors like lemon, mango, and watermelon available at their Downtown Mesa cidery and taproom. The slushies compliment their menu of unique ciders that are made on-site. And Cider Corps isn’t just apples. They utilize a variety of ingredients such as blueberries, kiwi and habanero, and grapefruit, to name a few, to make all their delicious drinks.

Arizona Wilderness

Downtown Phoenix 
Bustling beer garden for the Downtown crowd 

Just like the Gilbert original, this outpost of Arizona Wilderness in Downtown Phoenix has quickly become a go-to for beer lovers from around The Valley. The new full-service beer garden has an extensive list of unique craft beers to choose from and will whip you up some delicious cocktails constructed with locally-sourced ingredients… meaning a glass or two of some Arizona-made wine isn’t off the table… unless you have too many and knock it off yourself.

Ted's Refreshments
Ted's Refreshments | iamchanelle photography

Ted’s Refreshments

Tempe
Divey, dog-friendly joint with dozens of drafts

Ted’s Refreshments has all the makings of a solid dive: cheap pitchers of beer, coin-operated pool tables, and too many neon signs to count. Owner Julian Wright says that his newest bar is inspired by Chicago dives, but this spot has just the right amount of hometown flavor to balance it out, including a compact list of locally-brewed beers as well as brews from the neighbors over at Pedal Haus. All this helps round-out a beer selection with cheaper domestics like PBR and Silver Bullets.

So Far, So Good at The Churchill

Downtown Phoenix
An unpretentious walk-up with cleverly-named, and creatively-crafted, drinks

The Churchill is an urban marketplace constructed from shipping containers that’s home to 10 small businesses of all types. Whether you’re in the mood for burgers and fries, agua frescas and tacos, or an acai bowl topped with coconut, you’ll get that (and then some) here. Find the “and then some” at So Far, So Good, one of Churchill's newest tenants. So Far, So Good offers up a selection of straightforward cocktails and some not-so-basic drinks. The menu changes frequently based on the season and what fresh ingredients are available. Another thing that regularly changes is the $5 shot -- a solid choice if you’re going back-and-forth on what to actually order. And there’s always the punchbowl… y’know, if you want to share. 

Century Grand
Century Grand | Grace Stufkosky

Century Grand

Phoenix
The Disneyland of Phoenix bars, and a must-visit for any cocktail enthusiast

Century Grand is the latest concept from the team behind Undertow (keep scrolling to read about that one) and gives guests a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience. The bar is made up of three concepts: Platform 18, a super-cool cocktail bar modeled after an old-timey railroad car outfitted with screens, strobe lights, and audio effects that simulate train travel through the West; Century Grand, an uber-swanky bar and lounge where rolling carts deliver bites and provisions that were popular throughout the 1920s direct to your table; and the Grey Hen, a store and tasting room that sells booze like whiskeys and natural wines to take home.

The Theodore

Downtown Phoenix
Bottle shop and bar with a lineup of unique beers

The folks behind Phoenix’s Wandering Tortoise and Downtown Chandler's Sleepy Whale recently opened a bar and bottle shop called The Theodore in Downtown Phoenix’s bustling Roosevelt Row neighborhood. Like the two spots that preceded it, this new locale stocks rare and limited brews, and of course, a lineup of locally-brewed beer as well as wines. Give ‘em a follow on the ‘gram to see what they’re pouring at any given time.

The Hidden House
The Hidden House

The Hidden House

Downtown Chandler
A charming -- and not-so-hidden -- East Valley gem

Downtown Chandler is practically unrecognizable these days. This area of the East Valley has seen rapid growth and development in recent years and a good amount of new businesses, restaurants, and bars have moved into the once vacant storefronts -- including The Hidden House. Brought to us from the food and beverage masterminds behind The Brickyard Downtown, this new concept operates out of a 1930s cottage and custom-built hangar and has quickly become a destination for terrace dining, fancy craft cocktails, and unique bites like duck quesadillas since its late summer opening.  

From the Rooftop at Cambria Hotel

Downtown Phoenix
Where to meet for drinks before First Friday

Elevate your happy hour experience. Literally. Take your drinking to new heights at From the Rooftop, or FTR. This new bar and lounge is positioned atop the Cambria Hotel, which recently swung open its doors in Roosevelt Row last November. So you should probably check it out if you haven’t yet. This spot might just become your next favorite happy hour hangout for its Insta-worthy sunset views and discount drafts.

ALL-TIME BEST
Cobra Arcade Bar
Cobra Arcade Bar | Lauren Topor/Thrillist

Cobra Arcade Bar

Est. 2016 | Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix arcade bar to geek-out over
This Roosevelt Row neighborhood bar is packed wall-to-wall with old school arcade games like Street Fighter, Pac-Man, and enough pinball machines for your entire squad. The drinks here are aptly named as well (read: the Krazy Kong or Inky’s Drinky). The beer list has two dozen options and there’s even a “Go Juice” shortlist of energy drinks to keep you popping tokens into the machines all night long.

UnderTow
UnderTow

UnderTow

Est. 2016 | Phoenix
Arcadia’s own underground tiki bar
We’re about as landlocked as you can get here in Phoenix. But take the steep stairs down to the dark, cool depths of UnderTow and you might just feel like you’re navigating unsteady ocean waters. At this tiki-style cocktail bar you can sip from a lineup of nautical-themed drinks like the Fabled Journey or The Smoking Cannon. Before you set sail, we encourage making a reservation. Space aboard this ship is limited, and it’s best you make your reservation online.

Bitter & Twisted
Bitter & Twisted | Lauren Reichert

Bitter & Twisted

Est. 2014 | Downtown Phoenix 
Posh cocktail bar mixing up fine spirits and award-winning craft drinks
Bitter & Twisted takes up residence inside of the historic Luhrs Building, which at one time served as Arizona’s prohibition HQ. It’s here where owner Ross Simon and his crew of talented and detailed-oriented bartenders have curated an award-winning and globally-recognized cocktail program. The cocktail list, well, book of cocktails, includes a bevvy of creative handcrafted drinks. And of course, the classics. Even their cocktail ice is top-notch.

The Duce 

Est. 2010 | Downtown Phoenix
Retro hangout with vintage vibes
The Duce is housed in a huge historic warehouse that’s packed with a bunch of cool stuff. There’s space for dancing, an area for yard-style games, a few bars to belly-up to, trailer-made eats, a boxing ring where bands play sometimes, and open-air spaces where you can kick back with a PBR. 

The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar | Lauren Reichert

The Breadfruit & Rum Bar

Est. 2008 | Downtown Phoenix
Where you're sure to find a rum you'll truly enjoy
The Breadfruit has a lineup of some of the best rums you can find, more than 150 options, in fact. Fancy a cigar? You can pair a Cohiba with your rum flight or cocktail. The Breadfruit has a well-curated humidor full of fine cigars -- just be sure to light up on the patio. This Downtown spot also offers a Jamaican-influenced dinner menu that features jet-fresh sustainable seafood and ingredients sourced from Arizona farms.

postino
Upward Projects

Postino 

Est. 2001 | Multiple locations
Wine bar with an unbeatable happy hour 
The magicians at Upward Projects have blessed us all with a handful of outstanding concepts (Joyride, Federal Pizza, Churn!), but let’s face it; Postino is our favorite. And not just for the hip, easygoing vibe, but for the attentive service, top-notch dishes, extensive wine offerings, 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.

four peaks
Lauren Topor/Thrillist

Four Peaks Brewing Company

Est. 1996 | Multiple locations
Neighborhood staple brewing up award-winning beer 
It all started in the mid-'90s. Way back before you were waiting in lines for bars with your ID in your hand, Four Peaks helped launch a craft beer movement in the Southwest by selling imported brewery tanks to breweries around the region and The West. Today, you can book a tour at the historic flagship brewery in Tempe to learn about what goes into each pint. Stick around post-tour for a frosty glass of their most iconic beer, Kilt Lifter. Or sample your way through a beer flight and find a new favorite.

casey moore's
Lauren Topor/Thrillist

Casey Moore’s Oyster House

Est. 1986 | Tempe
Old haunt with lots of Irish flare
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. In addition to the no-frills drinks, fresh oysters, shrimp boats, and entrees like fish and chips can fill your belly.

Coach House

Est. 1959 | Scottsdale
All-day drinking den with a Western touch 
You probably know Coach House as the bar that’s decked out from floor-to-ceiling in twinkly lights and kitschy holiday decorations throughout most of the winter season. After all, it’s a tradition that dates back to the 1980s. Hell, going to Coach House during the holiday season is practically a tradition in itself. But you don’t -- and shouldn't -- have to wait for winter. You can wet your whistle at this dive all year-round.

Bikini Lounge

Est. 1947 | Grand
Dark and divey destination for tiki drinks 
This time-tested bar is here because it’s the oldest watering hole in Phoenix. At a time this Polynesian-themed lounge was basically on the outside of the city at the intersection of Grand and 15th Avenue. It’s still got some remnants of its 1940s appeal and there’s no lack of nostalgia -- and rum-drenched tiki drinks with tiny umbrellas to be sipped. Note that Bikini Lounge is a cash only joint, so come prepared.

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Lauren Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller and content creator. Her work has been featured in local travel guides and national publications. Follow her on Instagram @hungryinphoenix