By Nicki Escudero
By Amy Silverman
By Brian Palmer
By Chris Parker
By Troy Farah
By Lauren Wise
By Lauren Wise
Fri-Sat: Terri Anderson. 8700 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale, 480-515-2575.
Barcelona (Chandler): It could be the bars, massive and trendy, lined with ice for resting cocktails. It could be the live entertainment, including such favorites as the LMNOP band. Maybe it's the food, a mix of upscale Mediterranean and Southwestern cuisines. Perhaps the dancing is the draw, as guests young to old kick it up on the floor after 10 p.m. Whatever, both Barcelona locations are usually packed with people not bothered by pricey cocktails and even pricier snacks. Be smart and get started at happy hour, when appetizers ring in at half-price seven nights a week. 900 N. 54th St., Chandler, 480-785-9004.
Barcelona (Scottsdale): 15440 Greenway-Hayden Loop, Scottsdale, 480-603-0370.
Bistro 24: For luxe libations, nobody bests the Ritz-Carlton. Silk fabrics, comfortable rattan booths and country French accents nestle around the cozy, eat-in marble bar at the restaurant's entry. Bistro 24 is an exquisite environment in which to impress guests, with expert, unobtrusive service.
Fri-Sat: Live jazz. 2401 E. Camelback Rd., 602-468-0700.
Christopher's Fermier Brasserie: It's hard to look past the list of more than 100 wines by the glass, but worth it to discover outstanding French cuisine. Sommelier Paola Gross offers pairings perfect for nibbling and sipping at the sleek, European-style bar, followed by a decadent dessert and puffs on quality cigars. Stop in early (4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays) for a trio of two-ounce wine tastings at $9.95. Full wine bar menu Thursdays through Saturdays. 2584 E. Camelback Rd., 602-522-2344.
Craiger's Restaurant & Lounge: 5400 N. 59th Ave., Glendale, 623-934-8071.
Durant's: Perhaps the only unselfconscious retro lounge in the Valley, Durant's recalls an era when dry martinis and tuck-and-roll leatherette truly mattered. Surrounded by red-flocked walls and peeking out from dimly lighted banquettes are crowds of theater types, local politicians and businessmen with nieces in tow. Order a Stoli martini, five-to-one, and an icy plate of Florida snow crab claws, and know that you've reached the pinnacle of Old Phoenix cool. 2611 N. Central Ave., 602-264-5967.
Eddie Matney's: The lounge looks just like someone's living room -- someone in Morocco, that is. Bold, bright colors decorate the comfy sofas, armchairs and ottomans flanked by mosaic patterned tables. Savvy professional types gather here for an elegant nosh (half-price at happy hour, with freebies on Tuesdays) of Matney's eclectic appetizers: seafood ravioli, sumac-grilled lamb chops, garlic-cornmeal calamari. If a drink is trendy, it's on the menu (cosmos and lemon-drop martinis are favorites).
Fri-Sat: Live jazz. 2398 E. Camelback Rd., 602-957-3214.
Furio: The owners are so proud of the decor of their lounge that they openly give its designer credit. Judith Testani crafted the fabulous, violet-lighted bar furnished with chunky ottomans and a couch stacked with leopard-skin pillows. But real attention focuses on the handcrafted martinis, a boutique wine list and more than 15 specialty drinks like mojitos, an Italian ice-lemon (lemon gelato, Ketel One Citroen, Triple Sec, sweet and sour, and lemon juice in a sugared-rim martini glass), or a Bellini (champagne, peach purée, vodka and peach schnapps). Recorded music is inspired (Gipsy Kings, Sinatra, jazz, acoustic guitar), and the cuisine is, too (amazing dusted hearts of palm, calamari, osso buco).
Sun: Aria House music.
Mon: Martinis and manicures.
Thu: Flight night. 7210 E. Second St., Scottsdale, 480-945-6600.
Jamaican Blue Lounge: It's an oasis of anti-Snottsdale smack-dab in the heart of darkness. The name makes it sound like a spot where you can roll a big spliff, kick back, and listen to Jimmy Cliff until your brain turns to jerk chicken. But actually, this is a hip beer and wine joint with a pool table, jukebox, and cushioned nooks where you can cozy up to that hottie who's reading The Virgin Suicides and is tired of getting hit on by the old farts over at the shiny-shirt clubs. 4017 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-947-2160.
Kazimierz World Wine Bar: It's hard not to be happy sprawling back on cushy overstuffed armchairs and sofas amid candles and shrouded lights, enjoying a magical display as the sun sets behind an elaborate paper-and-gel stained glass window that comprises the bar's northern wall. This place has got it all, from funky music (jazz and techno, spiced up with big band, Irish and mariachi themes) to fashionable drinks (more than 800 bottles of wine, including two dozen themed flight selections) to fine food (gourmet antipasto, calamari and octopus salad, duck paté with truffles). Get there early (before 7) for best seating.
Mon and Thu: Live jazz. 7137 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, 480-946-3004.
M3 Bar & Lounge: M3 is a lounge with a neighborhood feel. Most patrons sit at the bar to chat, but there are plenty of circular chairs and oversize black leather couches, perfect for couples who want to get cozy. There's plenty of comfy seating on the patio, too, which is festively lighted by mini-torches and a red rope light. M3's sound system bumps everything from alternative rock to hip-hop and reggae, but the only place to dance is around the pool table. 2623 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-423-7087.
Merc Bar: Merc is so cool it barely has a sign -- just look for the door tucked across from Houston's and you'll see a tiny plaque. Inside is high style, with brass tables, designer sofas, dark wood accents and virtual bat-cave lighting. Clientele is of the well-heeled sort, with plenty of businessmen and pretty young things sipping French martinis (Finlandia vodka, Chambourd, pineapple juice) while nibbling on $14 plates of smoked salmon. Get there early, the place fills up quickly. 2501 E. Camelback Rd., 602-508-9449.