Best Of Bars & Clubs
Best Place for a Twilight Drink
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Looking to impress a visiting tourist or just yearning for a great place to kick up your feet after work? Head to the patio at the Four Seasons resort, where a tangy Copper City Mule awaits you — not to mention some of the most stunning, sweeping views of the...
Best Happy Hour
Let's be honest: Bar Crudo could've pulled a win in several cocktail categories. However, none of the others really put forth everything this Arcadia spot has to offer quite like the happy hour category. From a long list of classic cocktails made to the rigorous and historically accurate standards co-owner...
Best Local Beer
San Tan's Mr. Pineapple
Nothing says chilling by the pool on a relaxing Saturday afternoon quite like an ice-cold can of Mr. Pineapple. Yes, this San Tan brew now is available for purchase in cans at most local liquor stores and even area Trader Joe's. Though it's not the most complex brew crafted in...
Best Seasonal Beer
Four Peaks' Pumpkin Porter
Late summer, Four Peaks employees hear the same question from local beer lovers: "When can I get my hands on a pint of that pumpkin beer?" It might be because this brew's arrival is synonymous with the end of a long, hard heatwave. But there's definitely more to it than...
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
It's funny how one brewery can come into the craft beer scene in Phoenix and completely blow it up. Sure, there was plenty of great local beer in town before Arizona Wilderness Brewing, but in just about a year, it's already been named best new brewery in the world by...
Best Wine Bar
Kazimierz World Wine Bar
You've probably heard about this Scottsdale spot and wondered about how to spell — let alone pronounce — the complicated name. And even if you've never stepped foot inside, chances are you've walked by it a million times without ever knowing it. The unmarked entrance — which, by the way,...
You might go to Crescent for the concerts, considering that the Phoenix venue usually gets some of the best local and national acts around. You might go there for the beloved bean and cheese burritos wrapped in La Sonorense tortillas or for $2 tacos on Wednesday during lunch. Whatever the...
Best Bloody Mary
When we wake up hungover, our go-to remedy is the classic hair of the dog, usually in the form of a tall and extra spicy Bloody Mary. For this treatment, our favorite spot is RnR in Scottsdale. Sunday Funday at this hopping bar and restaurant means bottomless mimosas and Bloody...
Best Barrel-Aged Cocktail
Citizen R+D's Sea Salt Negroni
We love a good story with our cocktail, and the sea-salt-infused Negroni at Citizen R+D has an interesting one, for sure. You see, when booze was being shipped in the olden days (across the sea, that is), the story is that the transported liquor usually would get soaked in ocean...
Best Cocktail by the Pitcher
Pitcha of Pimm's at Windsor
Just about everybody likes a Pimm's Cup. That's because the gin liqueur-based drink is light and fresh with either lemonade or ginger beer, citrus slices, and cucumber. During brunch at Windsor, you can get all that cocktail goodness super-sized to pitcher quantity for just $5 — pretty much the most...
If you think moonshine is a drink for hillbillies and country bumpkins, we've got three words for you: apple pie moonshine. Specifically, the apple pie moonshine at Bootleggers will forever change your mind about the un-aged distilled corn liquor. First, just think of it as bourbon without the barrel. Then,...
Best Whiskey Bar
Magnum's Cigar Bar
This ain't your grandpa's whiskey bar. Well, actually, this is probably exactly the kind of spot your grandfather would've hung out in (and probably still does hang out in). But there's room for you, too. The North Phoenix bar is unmistakably a cigar bar first, based on aroma alone. However,...
Best Old School Cocktails
Second Story Liquor Bar
Second Story Liquor Bar might be a new spot on the Scottsdale dining scene, but bartender John Christie has been around. Originally a Bostonian, Christie made an indelible imprint on Valley cocktail bars during his time at the now-defunct Old Town Whiskey. Back in action behind the stick, he still...
Best New School Cocktails
The Clever Koi
In terms of being on the cutting edge of cocktail trends, The Clever Koi's back bar stock is as hip as the bar itself looks. With an ever-changing rotation of en vogue herbal liqueurs like Ancho Reyes, Suze, and Génépi, mixologist Joshua James crafts drinks that are crisp, clean, dry,...
Best Place for Drinks After a Show
To be honest, we can't think of a bad time to drink at AZ88. But we particularly love heading over to the bar/restaurant after a show at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts or Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, in part because this is the hangout for artists, musicians, and...
Best Cocktail Program
Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa Inn
If any bar menu typifies both reverence to the classics and a new Arizona cocktail outlook, it's Travis Nass' menu at Last Drop Bar. That's because while he keeps old favorites in the repertoire, the cocktails he creates almost always are well-balanced and light — even when they're liquor-forward. Bringing...
Best Fireside Drinks
House of Tricks
The patio at House of Tricks isn't the largest in town, or the fanciest. The drink menu isn't super-remarkable (though the wine list is good). But time and again, as soon as the temperature dips, you'll find us on the patio of this downtown Tempe mainstay enjoying a fireside cocktail...
Best Place to Drink and Work
Nerd alert! We like to take our laptop to a coffee shop and call it a night on the town. And that's what it is at Lux, where you can start your day with a shot of espresso and end it with a craft cocktail. We're nerds but we're not...
Geoffrey Wilson at Barrelhouse
There are a lot of great mixology classes in town if you have cash to shell out, or you can just take a seat at the bar at Barrelhouse and listen to Geoffrey Wilson tell you pretty much everything you need to know. Though his specialty is New Orleans cocktail...
Even if you were somehow able to match Smite for his turntable skills — and fat chance of that — the Phoenix DJ still would boast a collection that puts most DJs to shame. Rare funk, soul, cumbia, reggae, psych, and world beat selections make each performance by Smite at...
For hipsters, vinyl hoarders, or even your dad, a turntable is either a contraption meant for cueing up one's favorite platters or it's merely a conversation piece. But when David Dimmick starts sticking needles in grooves and performs as Fact135, it becomes a finely tuned instrument on which he works...
Don't get us wrong: Phoenix's Jon Rauhouse is a killer bandleader in his own right — as evidenced by his Jon Rauhouse Orchestra — but when he teams up with songwriter Neko Case, he proves himself to be a killer ace in the hole. Case's latest, The Worse Things Get,...
Best Tribute Band
One More Time — A Tribute to Daft Punk
One More Time does a spot-on imitation of Daft Punk in concert and does it well. Phenomenally well, even, from the identical version of the iconic helmets and jumpsuits of the Grammy-winning and quasi-robotic French electronica duo (including neon versions inspired by Tron: Legacy) to the pyramid-like staging that's straight...
Best Local Band
Andrew Jackson Jihad
A lot has changed in the 10 years since Andrew Jackson Jihad formed. Downtown Phoenix has a radically different look, and the music scene certainly has matured. As for the group, Andrew Jackson Jihad has grown from an acoustic folk-punk duo to a full-fledged rock band, and this year, the...
Best Local Music Label
Rubber Brother Records
Rubber Brother Records is one of the Valley's more unique record labels to come along in years. Run by local artists Gage Olesen and Robbie Pfeffer, its roster is overflowing with oddball outsiders (Hug of War), wailing garage rockers (Petty Things), self-effacing indie pop groups (Diners), and other weird music...
Best World Music Label
Since 1951, Phoenix-based Canyon Records has been documenting the music of Native Americans and First Nations peoples. The label's biggest star, R. Carlos Nakai, continues to rack up accolades, earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Age album in 2014 for Awakening the Fire, his album with longtime collaborator Will...
Best Bar in a Bookstore
First Draft Book Bar
When we were young, we ditched this cowtown and tried to get as far away from Phoenix as we could. A few years later, we returned home with significant credit card debt, a new appreciation for desert sunsets, and a wish list of things we wanted for our hometown. At...
Best Cocktail Stories
Arizona Cocktail Hour
Every Monday at 8 p.m., Jade Bar bartender Eddie Garcia takes to the airwaves of KFNX 1100 AM, but he isn't alone. The self-described "old guard" bartender is a master of classic cocktails, but he's always ready to learn something new from his guests. From other bartenders, like Crudo's Clint...
When Bill "Wallace" Thompson, creator and co-star of Arizona's favorite madcap children's program The Wallace and Ladmo Show, passed away in July 2014, Facebook and Twitter feeds across the city were flooded with a familiar tune, "Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha," the show's theme. It was penned...
Best Radio Morning Show
The Morning Infidelity on KWSS 93.9 FM
As confusing as KWSS' existence is (yes, it's independent and nonprofit, despite the underwriting announcements that occasionally sound like actual commercials, the entirely mainstream style of station identification, and the fact that the lefty news programs associated with these types of stations air on KWSS at ungodly hours on weekdays),...
Best Alternative/Rock Radio Station
KWSS 93.9 FM
KWSS stepped up in a big way this year, sponsoring the star-studded Summer Ends festival at Tempe Town Lake, where rising locals Black Carl, The Senators, Playboy Manbaby, and Mouse Powell headlined the KWSS Stage alongside mainstage acts like the Replacements, Foster the People, and Switchfoot. The station's local-centric program,...
Best Classic Rock Radio Station
KCDX 103.1 FM
KCDX recently started boasting that it's "like pirate radio, minus the pirates," and the catchphrase is utterly accurate. It's aural anarchy on the station, which broadcasts across most of the Valley. You're as likely to hear a noisy Velvet Underground tune as you are prog rock from 10cc. There are...
Best R&B Radio Station
There's no one playing sexier jams than this locally owned station, which features programs like the syndicated Art Laboe Show, the sensual Quiet Storm, and a block of programming by the Manic Hispanic, whose knowledge and selection runs deep, incorporating lowrider oldies from doo-wop acts and smooth electro from Zapp...
Best Hip-Hop Radio Station
101.1 The Beat
More than just a legacy hip-hop station playing classics, the Beat includes select new songs, afternoons with Ramses Ja, and edgy programming featuring Pokafase, Mattlocks, Roknowledge, DJ Element, and Madd Rich. On-air mixing and a solid catalog of hip-hop classics from Jay Z, Notorious BIG, and even left field acts...
Best Blues/Jazz Radio Station
KJZZ 91.5 FM
During the day, KJZZ broadcasts NPR content and exclusive news and culture reporting about Phoenix, but at night, the controls are handed over to jazz DJ Blaise Lantana. On Saturday night, the station broadcasts American Routes out of New Orleans, one of the best roots programs in the country. On...
Best Storytelling MC
Dan Hull deals in yarn-spinning. The master storyteller is arguably the architect of downtown Phoenix's storytelling scene. And he has told tales across the country — including at The Moth in New York. Lucky for Valley dwellers, Hull's easy to find around town. He hosts the aptly named Yarnball, a...
Best Country Radio Station
KSWG 96.3 FM
The two Valley radio stations for popular country music have some pretty short-term memories. That is, you're not likely to hear music that's more than a few years old. That's certainly not the case on KSWG, "Arizona's Real Country," where Johnny Cash and even Brooks & Dunn make the station's...
Best Arena Show
Paul McCartney at US Airways Center
It would have been enough for many in the crowd just to see a real live Beatle, but Paul McCartney is a showman and a gentleman, and at 72, he worked hard to please the crowd at his August show in Phoenix. The fans sat politely and quietly for a...
Best Theater Show
Lindsey Stirling at Marquee Theatre
Sure, Gilbert-born Lindsey Stirling's shtick — virtuosic violin shredding over booming EDM beats — sounds like there's no way it would translate on a live stage. But the 27-year-old Stirling doesn't just pull it off, she makes the whole thing seem remarkably natural. Commanding a sold-out crowd at the Marquee...
Best Club Show
The Phoenix Rock Lottery at Crescent Ballroom
Local promoter Steve "Psyko Steve" Chilton may have borrowed the idea of assembling a bunch of local musicians and randomly assigning them bandmates, a "rock lottery," from bigger cities like New York City, Seattle, and Dallas, but the resulting show was all Phoenix. In February, members of Captain Squeegee, Jimmy...
Best Bar for Local Acts
The Lost Leaf
The Lost Leaf doesn't have a giant stage or a killer sound system, but it's still the perfect place to catch a loose set from locals like Wooden Indian, Kevin Daly's Chicken and Waffles, Sunorous, or DJentrification. The historic downtown bungalow feels appropriately homey, with art by bartender and musical...
Best Venue for Local Acts
Local bands aspire to perform at Crescent Ballroom, and when they get there, it makes drinking the Honey Badger (Crescent's signature cocktail) all the sweeter. After coming up through the bottom rungs of the Phoenix music scene, playing house parties and bar gigs with no PA, playing the Crescent is...
Best Venue for National Acts
The Orpheum Theater is, quite frankly, gorgeous. Originally opened in 1929, the theater boasts 85 years of Phoenix history, including time as a Vaudeville house and a Spanish-language cinema. In 1984, the theater joined the National Register of Historic Places, and when the city of Phoenix finished renovating the place...
Best New Venue
Once home to a printing press in Phoenix's warehouse district, the Pressroom formerly was the site of Madison Event Center, which hosted raves and underground events. Relaunching in 2013 as the Pressroom, the 1,000-person venue came in with a bang, hosting occult rockers Ghost BC, the PHX AM afterparty with...
Best New Nightclub
Every new nightspot in Scottsdale gets long lines out the door — for the first couple of months, at any rate. The real test is whether people are still willing to come out and line up long after most everyone's gotten a look at what's inside. In the case of...
Maya Day & Nightclub
Maya Day & Nightclub has existed for less than two years, but it has sailed to the top of the short list of places where you want to be seen when you go clubbing in Scottsdale. Boasting A-list DJs on any given weekend, with a smattering of great lesser-known talent...
Best Rock Club
Don't let the location fool you — tucked in the corner of an unassuming strip mall in North Phoenix lies Joe's Grotto, a bar and music venue that hosts some of the best rock and metal shows in the Valley. The place has a killer stage (lights included!) and a...
Best Punk Venue
Nile Theater / The Underground
Punk (and its many subgenres) is one of the few types of music in which top-tier acts get up close and personal with their fans. Barriers are pretty much the least punk rock thing ever. A punk show without at least three crowd-surfers is considered a dull affair. The Nile...
Best Jazz Joint
It didn't take long for The Nash to establish itself as the preeminent spot in Phoenix for jazz. The venue opened in April 2012, and before you could say "Louis Armstrong's cigar-sized joints," it was offering a full slate of top-notch jazz performances and educational classes. The venue feels like...
Best Blues Club
Bob Corritore's venue gets the nod for best blues club not just because it consistently hosts the best blues shows in town, which it does. It's the whole package that the owner brings to the table. Corritore is more than just a venue owner. He's a musician and a tireless...
Best Rockabilly Bar
Rips Ales & Cocktails
Bust out the Bettie Page bangs and tack on the tattoo art, because you're going to want to blend in with the best of them at Rips Ales & Cocktails. Although this Central Phoenix dive bar doesn't do much to draw attention from the mainstream masses, the acutely concave roof...
Best Country and Western Nightspot
Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row
As much as we love our two-stepping and country tunes, we don't always want the full honky-tonk experience on a night out. Sometimes we want a place that splits the difference between being a regular nightclub and a spot where you can let our inner cowboy show. That's when we...
Best Hip-Hop Series
Blunt Club at Yucca Tap Room
Blunt Club is a proud gem of Phoenix's hip-hop scene. Since 2002, Blunt Club has showcased local and touring rappers every week at various venues around Phoenix. Though the location has changed over the years (the Yucca Tap Room recently has become its permanent host), the founders' vision of an...
Best Weekly Dance Night
Kismet, Saturdays in Crescent Ballroom's Lounge
Sean Watson owes his DJ career to having a whole lotta talent and a little bit of luck. Chance encounters with certain movers and shakers at The Vig shortly after his debut in 2007, for instance, led to a breakthrough residency at the trendy Arcadia spot that launched him into...
Best Monthly Dance Night
Tongue Tied, First Saturdays at Apollo's Lounge
Tongue Tied promoter Michele Roya Chinichian says she is a "big goofball at heart" with a soft spot for anything corny. And that's readily apparent at the monthly "crazy fun" dance parties she throws every first Saturday at Apollo's with DJ Funkfinger. To wit: Playthings like lightsabers, a stuffed unicorn,...
Best Dance Floor
Okay, so maybe when you hear the name "Monarch Theatre," spelled with the very regal-looking "-re" instead of the pedestrian "-er," you think of a grand, historic venue. While Monarch Theatre has history, a stiff, traditional theater it is not. Rather, it's downtown Phoenix's best and most happening dance floor...
Best Gay Dance Club
Karamba Night Club
When it comes to saying which stereotype can shake it more, we tango back and forth between the gay and Latin communities. Conveniently enough, however, there's one place in town where these two troops turn the dance floor into a tour de force. Karamba Night Club in Phoenix is a...
Best Gay Bar
Trust the well-toned, denim-clad cowboys behind the rustic bar at Charlie's — there are more than a handful of reasons to get there early and stay late. Beyond afternoon volleyball, evening dance classes and nightly drink specials, this downtown staple is home to regular entertainment from a cast of characters,...
Best Lesbian Bar
Cash Inn Country
Prepare to see and be seen when you walk through the unassuming doors of what regulars call "The Cash," a longtime favorite of local gays and lesbians. At the Western-themed bar, line dancing, dart-throwing, pool-shooting, and karaoke-ing are queen — and can all be the center of attention from the...
Best Resort Bar
BLT Steak at Camelback Inn
Mountain views and resort bars go together like gin and tonic, but BLT Steak is more than just a pretty face. Classy digs and a comfy lounge area make you feel right at home — you know, if your home were a pricey resort. Add to that those cheesy, warm, and...
Best Dive Bar
Nestled among the carnicerías and bodegas of 16th Street, the Royale Lounge is a dive in the classic sense of the word. Low lit and adorned by the humming red neon of its classy sign, the Royale is big on cheap drinks and low on pretension. Eighty-something bartender "Miss Lil"...
Best English Pub
Rose & Crown Pub
When we get to missing Jolly Old England, we head over to Rose & Crown, where we can tip back one (or two!) of 50 local and imported beers. Belhaven Scottish Ale, anyone? How about an Old Speckled Hen? The Ploughman's Plate — an assortment of cheese, crackers, seasonal fruit,...
Best Irish Pub
We'll admit we've never been to Ireland, but from what we can tell, Rosie McCaffrey's is everything that a good Irish pub should be. Everything from the dark and cozy wooden booths to the top-notch fish and chips makes us feel like we've left the Valley of the Sun for...
Best Smoking Patio
Shady's Fine Ales & Cocktails
Coffee and cigarettes may claim to be the classic combination of the starving artist — the peanut butter and jelly of hipsters, if you will — but Shady's begs to differ. This neighborhood hub has established itself as the go-to nightlife designation for nicotine lovers. While Shady's keeps the interior...
Best Sports Bar
Duke's Sports Bar
We really do try to get to other sports bars around town, but for some reason, we always seem to end up at Duke's. Aside from the fact that this standby Scottsdale bar boasts more television screens than a Best Buy, we love that it's got several separate spaces for...
Best Pool Hall
Q & Brew
The Q & Brew is not about the bells and whistles of billiards. It's a straight-ahead place, but its charms are simple and palpable. You go here for cheap drinks, a solid jukebox, and pool tables. There are bonuses, too, like the excellent pinball machine near the entrance and a...
Best Adult Arcade
When the kids are away, the adults will play — most likely, at CityScape's Gypsy Bar in downtown. This recess from responsibility is the go-to spot for grownups looking to get down. At Gypsy bar, the dating game gets literal with arcade favorites Pac-Man, Guitar Hero, NBA Hoops, skee ball,...
Best Place to See a Comedy Show
Stand Up Live
If you build it, they will come. Sorry to get all Field of Dreams, but in the case of Stand Up Live, all you needed to do downtown was build a comedy venue, and the comedians (and audiences) would fill it. The CityScape club has attracted in just a few...
Best Onstage Freakout
Destruction Unit started its life in the mid-2000s as a synth-crushing side project of Arizonan Ryan "Elvis Wong" Rousseau and Memphis punks Alicja Trout and the late great Jay Reatard, but it since has morphed into an entirely different beast. Modern-era Destruction Unit is a three-guitar cult of noise and...
Best Industry Night
While plenty of restaurants offer 20 percent off for fellow restaurant and bar workers either all the time or at certain times of day, Lustre Bar kicks the whole concept of industry perks up a notch by hosting pool parties with a great view of downtown Phoenix every Monday from 6...
Ordinarily, nightlife activity dries up once the liquor stops flowing at 2 a.m., turning most bar and club employees into party-poopers eager to pull the plug, turn off the taps, and lock the doors. Except at Karamba, where the staff entices insomniacs, party monsters, and members of the 18-and-over crowd...