Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2014


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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Songwriter

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 by Mike Condello, who was responsible for much of the show's iconic music. Under Condello's watchful eye from 1962 to 1972, the show incorporated Beatles spoofs by fictional acts like Hubb Kapp and the Wheels and Commodore Condello's Salt River Navy Band, alongside Condello originals. Condello was busy with his own songs, too. His 1968 album Phase 1 features Phoenix's finest psychedelic pop moments, melding fuzzy guitars to Condello's sighing schoolboy vocals. The album was re-issued by the folks at hip label Sundazed this year, offering a chance for fans to own a shining nugget of Sonoran pop. Like Thompson and Ladimir "Ladmo" Kwiatkowski (who passed away in 1994), Condello left too soon. The songwriter lost a long battle with severe depression in 1995. Though a treasure unknown by many outside a circle of record collectors and psychedelic enthusiasts, Condello's songs still ring in the heads of Phoenix children of all ages.  

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 desert to be had. Those vistas, combined with a daily happy hour from 3 to 5:30 p.m., make for an unbeatable twilight drink. A killer list of tap wine, tap beer, and by-the-bottle vino choices will have you staying well past sunset (and what a sunset it is!), then heading into the Four Seasons' Proof, an upscale, homestyle diner where you can add a little dinner to the perfect dusk-hour cocktail.

10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 85262
40 N. 1st St., Phoenix, 85004
Best Happy Hour
Bar Crudo
Heather Hoch

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 and master mixologist Micah Olson enforces in his bar to the phenomenal bar bites with Italian flair, everything you could order is dirt cheap (cocktails are $7 and dishes range from $5 to $12) for the quality you're getting. After all, well liquor pretty much means nothing at this bar and those crispy pig ears are the stuff dreams are made of. Take a seat in the beautiful lounge and bar area Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. and get the full Crudo experience.

Multiple Locations
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 town, drinkability is the name of the game here, and we've found few who can resist this beer's charm, even after just one sip. With a nice, light wheat beer base and a strong, acidic, and fruity kick of pineapple flavor, Mr. Pineapple definitely isn't a misnomer, although the name is kind of creepy. Don't worry, though, this tasty brew plays nice.

8 S. San Marcos, Chandler, 85225
1340 E. 8th St., Tempe, 85281
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 that. After all, there's a reason the pumpkin taps (and now even cans) run dry earlier and earlier every year, though the brewery makes more and more every year. The dark, coffee-colored beer is like drinking liquid pumpkin pie. Now that you know about its roasted malt, baking spice, and, of course, pumpkin flavors, make sure to get your stash of this autumn mainstay before it's gone. Because it will be gone. Soon.

1340 E. 8th St., Tempe, 85281
Best Brewery
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Heather Hoch

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 beer geeks in the know and has put our fair state on the map in ways it hadn't been before. Maybe it's the focus on using as much local grain as possible. Maybe it's the unique ingredient list, from cacao nibs to spruce tips. But once you get your first sip, you know it's something new. The almost daily changing list of experimental microbrews has us coming back for more and, with its being a Kickstarter-funded endeavor, we're just glad these artful brewers got the opportunity to open in the first place.

721 N. Arizona Ave., Gilbert, 85233
1340 E. 8th St., Tempe, 85281

Best Songwriter: Mike Condello


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