Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Rockabilly Bar
Rips Ales & Cocktails

True story: The late outlaw country artist Waylon Jennings once filled the cozy interior of Rips with his dulcet croonings during a performance at the 16th Street bar way back in the day. Ditto for fellow legends Willie Nelson and Charley Pride, both of whom also performed inside the joint when local country singer Jimmy Aims ran it from the '70s through the early '90s. Such footnotes from Rips' storied past, documented in a few photos of the aforementioned superstars gracing the walls, help give the place an O.G. pedigree whenever hosting the down-home sounds of rockabilly. Besides its usual slate of punk bands and New Wave dance nights, weekends at the bar over the past few years have showcased acts from Arizona and elsewhere specializing in the uptempo hybrid of country, rhythm and blues, and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, which was born in the 1950s, the same decade Rips opened. In just the past year alone, you could've caught the country-influenced grooves of locals like Trailer Queen or The Jamie Waldron Trio, as well as the psychobilly flair of The Limit Club, hellacious sister act The Devil's Daughters, the Latin-tinged swing of Curse of the Pink Hearse, or gigs by such out-of-towners as Utah's Mad Max and the Wild Ones. Local selector DJ Organic also is keen on spinning up retro rockabilly platters during his all-vinyl night Rumble! every Wednesday, which is typically attended by all manner of hepcats and kittens. We're almost certain somewhere, the spirit of Jennings (himself a noted fan of 'billy bands) is looking down on the place and snapping his fingers along with the beat.

3045 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 85016
MAP
602-266-0015
Best Place for a Twilight Drink
El Chorro

A few years ago, the elegant but crumbling old El Chorro — a Paradise Valley icon — was completely redecorated. On the inside, it doesn't look the same, but one thing no one changed was the view, and the patio is and always will be the best place to enjoy El Chorro. Another constant: You're here for the drinks, not the food. That is, unless your server will sneak you a basket of El Chorro's signature sticky buns. Either way, the view of the north side of Camelback Mountain is breathtaking. And the cocktails aren't bad, either.

5550 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, 85253
MAP
480-948-5170
Best 21st Century Speakeasy
Citizen R+D

Scottsdale's cocktail lovers have been singing the praises of this tiny, semi-secret spot above Citizen Public House since it opened in 2011. Yes, the rules are strict and the prices steep, but then again, where else can you get a cocktail served in a freshly cracked coconut? And don't even get us started on the tableside gin or the flaming artistry that mixologist Kris Korf will perform with Jameson. While the cocktails are more than enough to keep us coming back — at least as often as our wallets will allow — the attraction is about more than just that. We love interacting with the knowledgeable staff who are always more than happy to help you select the right drink. Even the hulking doormen are pretty chill, as long as you follow their rules. You'll probably have to wait to get inside and wait to get your drink, but if you're looking for a cocktail experience that will actually live up to the hype, we promise it will be worth it.

7111 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, 85251
MAP
602-904-3904
Best Shot
Pickle Shot, Palo Verde Lounge

It's a self-explanatory concept — a shot of well tequila, chased with a half-shot of leftover pickle juice. It may sound gross or weird, but the briny, sour pickle juice completely cuts the burn of the tequila (and masks some of the not so high-end flavor). If you're still not sold, think of it this way — you'd typically pair a tequila shot with lime and salt, unless you're trying to be European and use orange and cinnamon. The lime is sour; so is pickle juice. The salt is, well, salty; so is pickle juice. More commonly, you'll find picklebacks, which are pickle juice and whiskey and very hip in New York City right now, but we love Palo Verde Lounge for putting a Southwestern twist on this trend. Whether or not they knew it was a trend when they came up with it is anyone's guess, but the low-brow shot served at this dive in Tempe is still the best, regardless.

1015 W. Broadway Rd., Tempe, 85282
MAP
480-968-9221
Best Punch
Renegade by MOD
Photo by Lauren Saria

Chef Michael O'Dowd may have stepped down from Kai, Arizona's most decorated restaurant, but he didn't entirely leave the theatrical side of dining behind when he opened his own restaurant, Renegade by MOD, this spring. And while the "American West"-inspired eats may not be the most accessible offerings, we're happy to belly up to the restaurant's spacious indoor-outdoor bar, where drinkers will find a menu of amusing cocktails courtesy of talented house mixologist John Woo. We particularly enjoy the signature Renegade Punch in a Bag. The hot pink concoction of rum, juices, and champagne comes, as you might guess, in a bag. It's a little out there for sure, but if we close our eyes and let the strong booze work its magic, it's almost like we're transported to New Orleans' Bourbon Street for a night of hard partying. Plus, for whatever reason, the floppy bag makes us suck it up all the faster. And it has a Kool-Aid ice cube. How can you not love that?

9343 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, 85260
MAP
480-614-9400
Best Bloody Mary
Dick's Hideaway

Wake up! It's a new day — and last night seems to be ruining it with the gift of a massive hangover. Never fear, Dick's Hideaway is here to smack the sick right out of you. Dick's take on the classic brunch cocktail is kicked up with a hefty dose of spice in the tomato juice mixture prepared special by the chefs at Dick's sister restaurant, Rokerij. Added to Pinnacle vodka and garnished with lime, pickled asparagus, and celery, this Bloody Mary is in a league of its own when it comes to flavor. But the best part of this Bloody Mary experience is the shot of beer to chase the spicy concoction. It totally balances out the heat and eases you back into the normally functioning world, being the good cop to the cocktail's bad-cop cure.

6008 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 85016
MAP
602-241-1881
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Best Rockabilly Bar: Rips Ales & Cocktails

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