Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2015


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  • + Queen Creek
  • + South Phoenix
  • + South Scottsdale
  • + Sun City
  • + Surprise
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  • + Unknown
  • + Waddell
  • + West Phoenix
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Megalopolitan Life


Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Nightlife

Best Dance Floor
Char's Has the Blues

There's something about rhythm and blues music that makes one want to move and (quite possibly) groove. Maybe it's all the catchy hooks, fiery tempos, or infectious grooves inherent to the genre, but hearing a great R&B song has a tendency to get people in motion, whether they're shaking their tailfeathers or simply snapping their fingers to the beat. Both happen quite frequently inside Char's Has the Blues during any of its nightly R&B shows or jam sessions. As artists and acts like Laydee Jai, Larry Bailey, or Soul Power belt out their brand of rhythm and blues (as well as a variety of funk and Motown tunes), those who pack the place will boogie, bounce, or bust a move, particularly on its modestly sized parquet dance floor. True, it may offer less space than other Valley dance spots, but the close-quarters action only adds to the intimate juke joint atmosphere of Char's, as does the sultry red lighting bathing its interior. And since the bar's nook-like stage shares a portion of the dance floor, you might wind up cutting a rug alongside that evening's performers. Not that they're judging you or anything.

Readers Choice: Crescent Ballroom

4631 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, 85012
Best Old School Cocktails

It's easy to get caught up in the latest cocktails trends, be it a return to tiki-style drinks or garnishes inspired by what's growing in the garden. But wanting to taste what's trendy doesn't mean we can't also respect the classics. When we're craving an impeccable Old Fashioned or a perfect Negroni, we head to Crudo, where mixologist Micah Olson and his crew of talented drink makers is just as good with old-school cocktails as they are at shaking up creative concoctions. You can count on anyone behind the bar to make anything from a Vieux Carré to a French 75, and during the bar's happy hour, you can even score many of these classic drinks for just $7. Never had a Mai Tai you didn't hate? Let Crudo give it a try. We bet you'll finally understand why some cocktails stand the test of time.

Readers Choice: Durant's

3603 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 85018
Best New School Cocktails
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Heather Hoch

As they say, everything old is new again. So whether you're talking about modern takes on classic cocktails or drinks that incorporate the latest boozy trends, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour in downtown Phoenix delivers. Brought to the historic Luhrs Building by expert barman Ross Simon, this upscale spot brings big-city mixology to the Valley with a 24-page Book o' Cocktails and geeky gadgetry, including a nano filtration system that produces bottle-quality water and CO2 wands that let bartenders carbonate any drink they want. This year, Simon led the charge on bringing frozen and blended drinks to the Valley, a trend that's already taken off in other big cities. And the second iteration of the bar's cocktail menu, which debuted this spring, includes fresh creations such as the L.I.T. Up, a take on Long Island iced tea made with "a medley of premium spirits" in addition to Averna, port, and lemon bitters. For simpler tastes, there's also the Czech Please, which features trendy Bacherovka liqueur with muddled lime and simple syrup.

Readers Choice: Bitter & Twisted

1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 85003
Best Whiskey Bar
The Gladly

More than 230 whiskeys. That's pretty much the heads and the tails of why the Gladly is one of the best spots for whiskey drinkers in the Valley. The restaurant's list covers everything from Scotch and Irish whiskeys to All-American bourbon and other homegrown offerings — it even has a handful of Japanese selections for those who want to explore the newest kids on the international whiskey block. Of course, the whiskey cocktails also are above par — in particular, the Gladly Manhattan, one of our favorites in town. Featuring Russell's Reserve Bourbon, it gains depth from tobacco bitters and Guinness maple syrup. Smoky and sweet and garnished with a toasted orange peel, it's a perfect update to the whiskey drinker's standby drink.

2201 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85016
Best Barrel-Aged Cocktail
Fernet-Chu Picchu at Citizen Public House

As the barrel-aging of cocktails continues to become more popular, Citizen Public House maintains the tradition that it was one of the first in the Valley to adopt — and what did it do recently? Started from nearly scratch with a few new offerings, namely the Fernet-Chu Picchu, a blend of Lillet Rouge, Pêche De Vigne, and Pisco Portón — a spirit that in Peru is forbidden by law to be aged but is liberated and confined to oak barrels by the Citizen team. The result is a dark, slightly fruity and intense drink seasoned to caramel vanilla perfection.

7111 E. 5th Ave. Ste. E., Scottsdale, 85251
Best Bloody Mary
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Jackie Mercandetti

"Snooze" might be in the name, but this Denver-based brunch spot is anything but boring. From the retro-futuristic design to the seasonal pancakes and eggs Benedicts, Snooze makes the most important meal of the day one of the easiest to enjoy. The fact that it offers a nearly full bar and menu of morning cocktails also helps, and when it comes to Bloody Marys, the restaurant pulls out all the stops. There's a classic Bloody Mary — called the Straight Up or Spicy — but also a list of more creative takes on your hangover's best friend. We like the Gazpacho, made with cucumber and pepper and garlic-infused vodka, and the Boss Hog, a seriously upgraded Bloody that features bacon-infused bourbon with Snooze's house Bloody mix.

2045 E Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85016

Best Dance Floor: Char's Has the Blues


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