Bars & Clubs

  • Best Cocktail Named After a Haboob

    The Haboob at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn

    By the middle of the summer of 2012, we were choking on dust and dying of thirst. Suddenly, it occurred to us: If New Orleans can have the Hurricane, what's stopping Phoenix from creating her own cocktail homage to the haboob? And so we set forth on a bar-to-bar quest to find the bartender who could make our dream come… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn to Love Whiskey

    Old Town Whiskey - CLOSED

    The world of whiskey is wide. Nearly every country that produces grain also makes its own version of the dark liquor, and with thousands of different varieties, styles and brands available, it's easy to get lost in your travels. Old Town Whiskey's collection of bottles is no less daunting — the restaurant's library of more than 100 whiskey varieties is… More >>
  • Best Specialty Cocktails

    Citizen R&D - CLOSED

    Really, gin made tableside? Flaming shakers of Jameson? Can Richie Moe, Kris Korf, and crew get any more creative with their cocktails? Could anyone?! The Citizen Public House folks decided to make good use of an old VIP room by turning it into a speakeasy-style bar that serves cocktails you most definitely will not find anywhere else. If you're one… More >>
  • Best Skinny Cocktail

    Skinny Chola at Barrio Queen

    Rumor has it there's a cool, skinny chola at the bar. No need to size her up or whistle too loud; this chick keeps it real and authentic without the unnecessary mixes and syrups. Yep, she's the skinny, fresh face of a kick-ass margarita with all the essential ingredients — Jose Cuervo Tradicional Blanco Silver Tequila, agave nectar, and lime… More >>
  • Best Shot

    The Pickle Back at Kitchen 56

    WTF is a Pickle Back? That's probably what you're asking yourself right about now. We're about to tell you, but we need you to open your mind way up, so hear us out on this one. A Pickle Back isn't a shot of pickle juice mixed with something gross like tequila or ranch dressing, and it doesn't have any actual… More >>
  • Best Martini


    These days, bars tend to play it fast and loose with their martinis, slapping disparate fruits and herbs together with vodka and calling it good. MercBar is as guilty as anyone on this, though their mixtures — like the Espresso Martini made with Stoli Vanilla and Bailey's — are better-crafted than most. But to us, a true martini is made… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Maizie's Cafe

    Too much bacon? Pfft. Never. We still love bacon, and we'll savor it in any form — especially when it's in the form of vodka. This uptown bistro loads up their hangover helper with a mix of rich tomato juice, black pepper, spicy horseradish, and bacon vodka, then garnishes it with strips of smoky applewood bacon. The result is more… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Whiskey Sangria at Carly's Bistro

    The old saying goes — liquor before beer never fear; beer before liquor, never sicker. But what happens when you combine wine, whiskey, and other liquor together in one cocktail? We think it sounds like a hangover waiting to happen, but Carly's has managed to turn it into a sultry drink that we love sipping while enjoying one of their… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    Sun Devil Cellar and Pub

    Head down the stairs at Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa and you'll be greeted by an unlikely sight, the Sun Devil Cellar and Pub. Navigate the bottles of aged wine and push past the plush curtains and you'll find a tiny nook of seclusion. Maybe a pianist tickles the black and white keys of a piano, or maybe there's just… More >>
  • Best Beer Bar

    The Hungry Monk

    In 2010, Jim Lolli converted his two-year-old Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise into the Hungry Monk, where the ever-changing beer list boasts crafts from all over the country, as well as unique blends crafted by Monk staff and friends. Maybe it's the time he spent slinging wings, but Lolli has an eccentric approach to events that twists what beer can… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Four Peaks Hop Knot

    Hop Knot beat out 80 other brews in the "American-style strong pale ale" category at the 2012 World Beer Cup, which makes sense — it beat out all comers to be named our Best Local Beer last year. Four Peaks' IPA blends four different hops added at different times in the brewing process, resulting in a piney, grassy symphony that… More >>
  • Best Brewpub

    Angels Trumpet Ale House

    Over the past year, craft beer has exploded from a rising trend in hipster culture to a full-blown phenomenon. No longer will an "okay" beer selection with four handles and 10 bottles do. Nowadays, you'd better have at least 16 tap handles, and your bottle selection had better be epic. Thankfully, husband-and-wife duo Mat and Sharry Englehorn nailed the beer… More >>
  • Best Pub Quiz

    Brainstormer Pub Quiz at Rula Bula

    There are plenty of great reasons to visit Rúla Búla on a Wednesday night. The bar's cozy interior makes for a refreshing break from the Mill Avenue bustle and grind (the historic location, the Andre Building, certainly doesn't hurt), and the smooth-tasting pints of Guinness make the bar an Irish pub staple in the Valley. The bar's weekly pub quiz,… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Comedy Show

    Stand Up Live

    Roastmaster supreme Jeffery Ross made fun of Arizona for four nights straight, which — admittedly — isn't too tough a task, given the backward-ass nature of our fair state. Meanwhile, Jackass star Steve-O is rumored to have stapled his scrotum to his leg during his visit, the motormouthed Pablo Francisco did shots with the audience and unleashed dozens of hilarious… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill - CLOSED

    The history of American music is littered with legends about "pickup bands," units of players so adept and quick on their feet that touring songwriters needed only to show up in town and contact the band to back them at a bar or club gig. The members of the karaoke band at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill… More >>
  • Best Jukebox


    Ask any self-respecting hipster what Phoenix bar has the best jukebox in town and you're asking for an argument. Though we're certainly not immune to the charms of other establishments, it's hard to deny the nearly universal appeal of the Shady's box. Featuring soul, vintage alternative, punk, mod, Brit pop, and local gems from Phoenix's past, the Shady's juke not… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Q & Brew

    In local director Travis Mills' The Big Something, a slacker noir set in the Valley, pool hall Q& Brew plays a pivotal role. It makes sense. Nestled away in the same strip mall that houses the Yucca Tap Room and Sky High Smoke shop, the Brew has got a lo-fi kind of charm. It's resolutely hipster-proof, the kind of place… More >>
  • Best Bar with a Pool

    El Santo Cantina - CLOSED

    In Scottsdale, theme bars are king. The city's nightlife landscape overflows with rustic cowboy saloons, greasy rock joints, kitschy island bars, and even an effin' dance club inspired by a bank. So it's not surprising in the least that Spanish Fly, a Mexican beach bar with a pool on the premises, would be a hit. The concept proved so successful… More >>
  • Best Bar for Watching the Game

    Time Out Lounge

    A good jukebox is key to a good time — even if you're watching the game. Hey, we're all about multi-tasking these days, even when we're out on the town. And the jukebox at Time Out Lounge typically pumps out good jams from the likes of Elvis Costello, The Buzzcocks, and The Stooges. It's usually pretty mellow in the Time… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Central Phoenix

    Arcadia Tavern

    Neighborhood sports bars don't get much more authentic than Arcadia Tavern, the kind of place where cheering on your team during the big game is just as enjoyable as hanging out during halftime. Plenty of plasma TVs in the bar, on the patio, and just about everywhere else you look guarantee there's not a bad seat in the house. And… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Coach & Willie's - CLOSED

    Not being able go to the game doesn't burn nearly as bad when you can watch it from Coach & Willie's. Since 2000, this downtown establishment has been winning customers over with its killer patio and stiff drinks. Located close enough to Chase Field that you can still hear the crack of the bats, Coach & Willie's makes it almost… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, South Phoenix

    Teakwoods Chandler

    We've all had it happen before. Just enough time on the clock for one last drive — and your team needs seven to clutch the win. The best way to release all that nervous tension? Smashing peanuts and throwing the waste all over the floor. Hungry or not, we always manage to make a serious dent in the bucket of… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, North Phoenix

    Zipps Sports Grill

    The newest Zipps location keeps all the best parts of this Valley favorite sports bar chain. Exposed brick and too many TVs to count carry on a classic Zipps tradition, but the young feel of the surrounding neighborhood keeps things fun. We've been known to indulge in drunken shuffleboard, and the Golden Tee machine — a staple in any top-tier… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, West Valley

    Stinger's Sports Bar

    There are more than enough sports bars in Stinger's neighborhood, and they all seem to embrace their rough-around-the-edges appearance. But no one likes to walk into a bar full of regulars and feel the burning stare of patrons and employees demanding, "Why are you here?" Though Stinger's is sure to be full of regulars on any given night, we like… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Southeast Valley

    Cactus Moon Sports Bar

    There's no shortage of places to catch a game in the East Valley, but forget about finding a seat if you don't stake out a spot well before kickoff. That's when we head to Cactus Moon. Because whether we show up in the first half or the bottom of the ninth, there's always room for us and our beer. We'll… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Tempe

    Native New Yorker

    Okay, so it's a chain. But being located within spitting distance of a college campus means this sports bar — excuse us, "sports-themed family restaurant" — gets real rowdy on game day. Our favorite nights of the week are easily Tuesday and Thursdays, when we can order a plateful of wings for just 45 cents apiece. This place bleeds college-casual… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Scottsdale

    Duke's Sports Bar

    There are quite a few reasons we love coming to Duke's, not the least of which is owner Al McMarthy, a man who's not afraid to hop on the mic and make the whole place cheer for a table of champion beer league softball players. We also love Duke's because it has enough TVs to satiate our totally neurotic need… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Palo Verde Lounge

    They don't call it the "Dirty Verde" for nothing. The Palo Verde Lounge in Tempe has earned its reputation as a thoroughly rock 'n' roll watering hole the old-fashioned way: serving up cold domestic beers, not spending too much time mopping the floors, and never catering to the snooty hipster set. The kind of bands that take stage (the floor… More >>
  • Best Rockabilly Bar

    The Blooze Bar

    If the black walls of the Blooze Bar could talk, they'd probably sing some rollicking yarn in 4/4 time about all the evils that both women and the bottle hath wrought. After all, they are the sort of ditties that are dispensed in this North Phoenix venue during its long-running rockabilly night every Thursday. A big portion of Valley rockabilly… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar


    The drink pixies behind the granite-topped bar at this upscale gay-oriented drinkery in the heart of Park Central Mall aren't stingy with either their smiles or their pours. Kobalt's cocktails are ridiculously potent, which may explain why the place always buzzes with laughter, vivacious conversation, and enlivened antics. It's also one of the reasons why Kobalt draws a diverse clientele… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Cash Inn Country

    Spend a Friday or Saturday night at the Cash, as some regulars refer to it, and you're likely to witness a real life episode of The L Word, writ large. Crammed to the rafters every weekend with members of the Sappho set, this CenPho saloon is one of the most enduring lesbian bars in the Valley, kicking around the scene… More >>
  • Best Hookah Lounge

    Hookah Mania

    No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. The manager did, in fact, stick a small bowl hewn from an apple and packed with shisha atop your water pipe. Or maybe it was made from watermelon or a pear. Regardless, adding the fresh-cut produce helps accentuate any of Hookah Mania's 40 flavored tobaccos with a fruity zest. It's one of… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio


    Long ago and far away, lighting up a cigarette used to signify style, sophistication, and class. (Try picturing the iconic Humphrey Bogart prowling around Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca without a Camel clutched in hand). That era, however, is long since past. These days, smokers have been relegated to pariah status and exiled to butt-strewn smoking areas outside local bars… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix

    The Little Woody

    Hands down one of the coolest tiny bars in Phoenix, The Little Woody has stolen our boozy hearts. Part of The Vig's growing family of bars, TLW embodies everything that we want in a neighborhood watering hole. The wood-planked walls and dim lighting create a perfect escape from the harsh afternoon sun in the summer and a cozy hideaway during… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix


    It would be enough for FilmBar to provide downtown Phoenix patrons with the kind of art-house fare you don't get at mall cinemas, but FilmBar doesn't stop there. The "bar" in FilmBar is just as impressive, offering not only a chill place to hang out and a nice selection of craft beers, but music unlike any other club in town… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, North Phoenix

    The Loft Again

    It's a good thing that the proprietors of this North Valley gin joint have a couple of large clocks hanging near the bar to remind patrons of the passage of time. Otherwise, it's likely that they might waste away the entire day huddled away inside The Loft Again. (As a matter of fact, it seems a few of the regulars… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, South Phoenix

    Brad's Place

    Cozy neighborhood bars are hard to come by in the corporate strip-mall haven of Ahwatukee, but there is at least one place you can go where everybody knows your name. Brad's Place is a little bit dive bar, a little bit sports bar, and a whole lot of neighborhood friendliness. The beers are always cold, the burgers are big, and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, West Valley

    Enoch's Lounge

    So you say like to sing, huh? This colorful West Valley watering hole, tucked away in the corner of a Peoria strip mall behind a McDonald's, offers some extremely lively karaoke nights four nights a week from Thursday until Sunday. It's just one of the many draws of Enoch's, which also offers a daily happy hour commencing at 6 a.m.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley


    As the cocktail-swilling frog depicted on the vintage neon-filled sign portends, Groggy's is a neighborhood bar of the dive variety. As such, this Mesa drinking destination possesses just the right mix of laid-back charm and slummy thrills, not to mention all the appropriate hole-in-the-wall trappings: a claw game stocked with adult novelties, hipster college kids from nearby schools, a menu… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Tempe

    Baer's Den

    Baer's Den used to be one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of bars, as its teeny-tiny former location tucked alongside a motel was literally about the size of a one-car garage. After moving about 200 feet down Apache Boulevard earlier this year, however, this sports and spirits paradise is now housed in bigger and much more prominent digs. Thankfully, owner Scott… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Scottsdale

    Roadrunner Lounge

    For some barflies and day drinkers, neighborhood watering holes practically serve as virtual homes away from home. This seems particularly true at this homey Scottsdale dive, which boasts den-like décor and has the well-worn comfy feel of a personal bar set up in someone's basement, right down to the pressboard walls and cheesy billiards-themed fabric lining the barstools. Heck, even… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, North Phoenix

    Cafe Bink

    A food lover's dream is being able to afford just one six-course tasting from top Arizona restaurant Binkley's. At $96 per person, it probably won't happen for us anytime soon, but now that Binkley's sister restaurant, Café Bink, has a happy hour, we can try a little bit of Bink for just a little bit of cash. From 3 to… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Central Phoenix

    Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge

    When we need more than just a cheap plate of nachos and a room-temperature Coors Light, we call up our favorite happy hour buddies and head over to James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross' restaurant at the Biltmore. From 3 to 6 p.m. every single day of the week, you can score gourmet burgers, truffled frites, wood-fired pizzas with exotic… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Downtown Phoenix

    The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe

    After a long day at our 9 to 5, there is nothing we want more than to be drinking a pint of cold craft beer and listening to our favorite old-school jams on the patio of The Main Ingredient. The renovated 1920s Coronado neighborhood bungalow turned restaurant always has an enticing selection of local and craft beers on tap and… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, South Phoenix

    Hillside Spot

    As far as we're concerned, the only spot to go for happy hour in Ahwatukee is chef Doug Robson's Hillside Spot for a bowl of crispy chips served with his nearly famous extra-hot red sauce for just $1. There's other stuff on the menu, like the absolutely horrible-for-you-but-tastes-so-good fried cheese crisp and an open-face grilled cheese sandwich — but the… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, West Valley

    Johnny Fox's Public House - CLOSED

    Robbie Fox's little brother Johnny is just as much as a happy hour troublemaker as his older Tempe sib. Half off the entire menu from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday means $3 Jameson shots, $6 shots of Macallan 15-year, and $7 bowls of lamb stew. The public house is full of old-school Irish character and gets packed during… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Southeast Valley

    Vintage 95

    The baby of the Boston Street block of eating and drinking hot spots, Vintage 95 gets our business when we want to relax with a couple of friends. The dimly lit wine bar reminds us of wintertime, with its plush leather couches and crackling fireplace — a welcome escape from the searing sun during the summer months. During the "Official… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Tempe

    Canteen Modern Tequila Bar - CLOSED

    Tacos, tacos, and more tacos — that's what's on the menu at this popular Tempe hangout. Snag a seat on the restaurant/tequila bar's wrap-around patio for prime people-watching and killer margaritas. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., the appropriately named "Halfy Hour" offers everything on the beer and tequila menus for half price, as well as house margaritas, well drinks, and… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Scottsdale

    Mabel's on Main - CLOSED

    If you look up the word "swanky" in a dictionary (a big book of word definitions), there is a good chance that a picture of Mabel's on Main's sleek and inviting interior will be front and center. The lounge pays homage to its classic gentlemen's club roots with heavy chandeliers, leather wingback chairs, wood-paneled walls, and roomy booths. From 5… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Venus Salin at Yucca Tap Room

    If you've ever been to a weeknight show at the Yucca, you've no doubt seen Venus Salin behind the bar. Slaving away, pouring PBRs and craft beers, she serves not only as bartender but also as the front-of-house manager, turning off the jukebox when bands are ready to play and dispensing drink tokens to musicians who doubtless are scheming for… More >>
  • Best Punk Bar

    Johnny's Eastside Tap & Grill - CLOSED

    Punk rock is a cyclical beast. It tends to blow up big once every decade, only to slink back into the shadows and reinvent itself before emerging once again. The same could be said for the Valley's punk scene, which has endured its fair shares of ebb and flow over the past 30-odd years as bands break up and bars… More >>
  • Best Place to See an Underground Punk Show

    Meat Market Garment Factory

    At Meat Market Garment Factory, it's business up front, party in the back. We're not suggesting that Ben Funke or Cory Martinez, the fashionable young couple who run this small DIY venue, proudly sport Kentucky Waterfalls. We simply are describing how things are set up here. The anterior portion of this under-the-radar space, located in a Tempe office park, is… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Metal Show

    Hollywood Alley - CLOSED

    Mesa bar Hollywood Alley is a longstanding fixture in the Phoenix scene, known as a home to hip-hop, punk, garage, and, notably, metal. In recent years, a specific brand of powerful and crushing Phoenix metal has found a home at the venue, with bands like Daughters of Fission, TwinGiant, Enirva, and Hogjaw lugging heavy amps into the bar to blast… More >>
  • Best Theater Show

    Wilco at Gammage Auditorium

    You can't ask for much more. On a cool evening (Saturday, January 21, to be exact) Wilco performed at beautiful Gammage Auditorium. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the pink wedding cake of a structure is, arguably, not the best when it comes to acoustics. Didn't matter this night. Carefully blending disparate elements of country rock, experimental German art music, driving… More >>
  • Best Club Show

    Through and Through Gospel Review at Crescent Ballroom

    It almost feels like cheating: Joel Marquard's spectacular Through and Through Gospel review performance on Saturday, July 14, was a local music triumph, uniting members of some of the Valley's best bands — Gospel Claws, What Laura Says, Where Dead Voices Gather, Ladylike, Yellow Minute, and more — for an eight-song set that felt almost as much like church (in… More >>
  • Best Arena Show

    The Beach Boys at Grand Canyon University Arena

    The idea of a band doing a 50-song set is enough to make even the most ardent concert-goer a little nervous. Fifty songs? Can any band maintain the level of energy and spirit to make that work? Factor in the band members' median age, 70, and those doubts are even more compounded. But despite all the unlikelihoods, The Beach Boys'… More >>
  • Best Venue for National Acts

    Comerica Theatre

    We're generally the kind of people who like to see more intimate shows, but you know, you can't see Bob Dylan at the Yucca, can you? (Come to think of it, that would be pretty awesome.) Luckily, the unique layout of Comerica Theatre makes big shows feel, well, a little less "arena-ish." Hosting a wide range of acts, from comedian… More >>
  • Best Venue for Local Acts

    Nile Theater/Underground

    Few venues can boast as impressive a second act as The Nile Theater, in downtown Mesa. Since reopening under the direction of Mantooth Group in 2010, the venue has spearheaded a kind of downtown revival, hosting punk and hardcore in the sweaty and utterly rock 'n' roll basement (re-dubbed The Underground as opposed to just "the Nile Basement") and singer/songwriter/indie… More >>
  • Best Local Music Booster

    Emmanuel Tripodis, The Rogue Bar

    The Rogue Bar plays host to plenty of good touring acts (remember when controversial black metal band Liturgy brought its hipster sound to the Valley?), but the venue truly shines when it comes to locals. The venue's residency program, which gives a weekly platform for buzzing locals like Snake! Snake! Snakes! to experiment, curate lineups of their favorite bands, and… More >>
  • Best New Music Venue

    Crescent Ballroom

    Charlie Levy apparently is a very patient man. After his famed Tempe music venue Nita's Hideaway closed in 2002, the local concert promoter waited almost a decade to open another place of his own. He was biding his time until a spot that was just the right size and in a perfect location became available. And when that day finally… More >>
  • Best New Nightclub

    Monarch Theatre

    When nightlife impresarios Edson Madrigal, Pete Salaz, and Sean Badger dubbed their newest endeavor the regal-sounding Monarch Theatre, it wasn't a self-aggrandizing gesture. Truth be told, the trio pretty much reigns supreme over the downtown Phoenix club world. They already own Bar Smith, arguably the hottest joint along Washington Street's stretch of clubs, which hosts some of the more epic… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Yucca Tap Room

    Don't let the fact that shows at the Yucca Tap Room are free fool you. The bar consistently books some of the best garage, power pop, punk, and metal acts in town, from touring stars like The Ataris and Radio Moscow to showcases from local stunners like Earthmen and Strangers and Avon Ladies. Things can get pretty wild at the… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Club Red/Red Owl - CLOSED

    The March shooting at a Nipsey Hussle show at the Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe was a low point for the Valley hip-hop scene but hardly was indicative of the vibes cultivated by promoters like Sean Healy Presents and Universatile Music just down the street at Club Red/The Red Owl. The split club hosts punk, metal, and rock acts, too,… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Rhythm Room

    Local blues king Bob Corritore's long-running club turns 21 this year. That means it's old enough to drink legally, but something gives us the impression that the club has had a shot or two of the good stuff already. Corritore's mission to keep the blues flowing in Phoenix extends to his five-hour Sunday night blues radio show, Those Lowdown Blues,… More >>
  • Best Country Nightclub

    Handlebar J

    The Herndon family has owned Handlebar J since 1975. In all those years, they've maintained a very simple policy: People like steaks and ribs, and they like country music. They've been giving Scottdale patrons exactly what they come for year after year. It's just a stone's throw from the bustling and flashy Old Town scene, and while you're certain to… More >>
  • Best Gay Dance Club

    Amsterdam - CLOSED

    A whirlwind of change ensued inside Amsterdam over the past year, as its proprietors gave the glitzy gay and lesbian landmark a different look and a whole new groove. Its trademark marble pillars and Rodin-like naked male sculptures are still around, but most of the overstuffed couches and swanky furnishings were ditched to free up space for a larger dance… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Club

    Club Afterlife - CLOSED

    Despite their musclehead reputation, the doormen at local bars and clubs are pretty adroit at spotting fake IDs. In other words, members of the under-21 brigade might want to reconsider using their older siblings' faded driver's licenses to slip into some swank Scottsdale club. Instead of getting denied by beefy bouncers, or even reported to the cops, they instead head… More >>
  • Best Exclusive Club

    Wild Knight - CLOSED

    A word to the wise: Don't try to slip a $20 to the doormen outside of Wild Knight, because it won't work. Bullying is just as ineffective as bribing, because attempting to intimidate or accost them is more likely to get you in handcuffs instead of inside the club. They've got their own system of who gets to be lucky… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Night

    The Blunt Club, Thursdays at Yucca Tap Room

    It's been an important year for the cats behind The Blunt Club. At the beginning of the summer, they celebrated the 10th birthday of the long-running Thursday night affair, marking a full decade of bringing hip-hop music and culture to the masses. The party served as both a major milestone and a major rager, taking place over the course of… More >>
  • Best Dubstep Night

    UK Thursdays at Monarch Theatre

    Hate to break it to you, club kiddies, but Skrillex didn't invent dubstep. While the cutesy-pie electronica producer helped light the match that caused the bass-heavy genre to explode in popularity in the past couple of years, dubstep's been around for more than a decade now. Just ask the cats behind long-running club night UK Thursdays, who were blasting bass… More >>
  • Best Country and Western Night

    Valley Fever, Sundays at Yucca Tap Room

    DJ Dana Armstrong and her Valley Fever crew are stuck in the past, when country music didn't mean Toby Keith and Taylor Swift. That stuff's fine if you're looking for a little pop pleasure, but if you're looking for the hard stuff — the Waylons and Willies — Valley Fever (every Sunday night) at the Yucca is the only night… More >>
  • Best Industrial Night

    :Fallout.Shelter:, Wednesdays at Sanctum - CLOSED

    The gorgeously gauche atmosphere of Sanctum is often a prowling ground for curiously dressed creatures of the night, whether it's the grotesque goths who come for Tranzylvania or the tattooed-and-pierced freaks who frequent Doom Disco. Wednesdays, however, are the domain of the industrial-music rivetheads, who put on their big boots, leather pants, and quasi-military gear before stomping over to Sanctum… More >>
  • Best Weekly Dance Night

    The Palace @ FilmBar

    Local selector DJentrification doesn't do things the easy way; while plenty of DJs are content to cue up the laptop, press play, and then start hitting on girls in the audience, DJent is a strictly vinyl kind of guy, meaning his sprawling sets are filled with the kind of music you can't snag easily from the iTunes store. His weekly… More >>
  • Best Weekly Dance Night for Hipsters

    Sticky Fingers, Saturdays at Bar Smith

    The word hipster has taken a pretty heavy beating in recent years, becoming the buzz word for someone looking to talk smack about the kind of erudite, nattily dressed young people packing clubs like Bar Smith. But the reigning mixers at Sticky Fingers, William Fucking Reed, Prince$$, 2 Tone Disco, and more aren't about to let that stop them from… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Axis-Radius - CLOSED

    Wanna shake a tail feather or show off your skills as a dance diva? This Scottsdale institution features two distinct clubs in one stylish package, each rocking its own unique vibe and musical styles. Axis is the domain of Top 40 and R&B hits, where music videos are projected onto a giant screen overhead and dancing is done on a… More >>
  • Best Dance Party

    Decentralized Dance Party — Phoenix Edition

    Ostensibly, the emergency lights adorning the Phoenix Police Department's fleet of patrol vehicles were designed to alert motorists to danger or force them to pull over. On a chilly night in early January, however, these red and blue flashing devices were used for a purpose that was entirely more fun. Namely, serving as multicolored strobe lights that illuminated countless revelers… More >>
  • Best House DJs

    Turner and Heit

    A word of warning: The house music laid down by Thomas Turner and Timothy Heit isn't necessarily for everyone. Like, if you're a typically ADD-ridden club kid who impatiently expects the DJ to bump a new song into the mix every minute, that just ain't Turner and Heit's bag. Instead, they craft epic and sophisticated soundscapes by expertly blending together… More >>
  • Best Hipster DJ

    Sean Watson

    Sean Watson has an immense following among young-and-hip circles because of his innate skills as a party instigator and near-infallible taste in music. Plus, his weekly sets at such fashionable spots as Crescent Ballroom typically are packed with the PBR brigade, and he's an occasional performer at Quincy Ross' secretive see-and-be-seen soirees. Ask the burly and bearded DJ about his… More >>
  • Best Goth DJ

    DJ Noiz.fkr

    With the sound of witch house infecting adventurous indie and EDM listeners, it's a good time to be a goth DJ. Not that DJ Noiz.fkr is a Johnny-come-lately. Noiz.fkr (real name: Rob Poe) long has been spinning EBM (electronic body music), industrial, synthpop, and New Wave (all with a dark bent) at clubs like Sanctum, various fetish balls, and the… More >>
  • Best Dubstep DJ

    J. Paul

    Believe it or not, it turns out that God loves dubstep. Or at least that's the humorous opinion of Jared Paul Jackson, better known by his DJ moniker J-Paul. Born to a devoutly Mormon family in Salt Lake City, the local EDM artist is certain that the Heavenly Father is a major fan of the unrelenting bass-heavy music that the… More >>
  • Best Moombahton DJs

    Pickster One and DJ Melo

    Influential Philadelphia-via-L.A. record label and blog Mad Descent, which is run by electro wizard Diplo, is something of a tastemaker in the music world that regularly sniffs out next-level shizzle to pimp to its fans. So when it started extolling the virtues of the moombahton mixes created by local DJ/producer team Jorge Melo and Dusty Hickman in 2011, not to… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop DJ

    Logan "Element" Howard

    One of the most memorable moments from the most recent season of IFC sketch comedy satire Portlandia was a hilarious vignette in which it seemed literally everyone and his mother (including Carrie Brownstein's onscreen mother) was becoming a DJ. What's even funnier is the fact that it's totally true-to-life, as embryonic mixer monkeys and knob-twisters are springing up everywhere, including… More >>
  • Best DJ Duo


    Ben Andersen and Eric Hoss have been full-on BFFs for the past four years, ever since meeting at a local club night in 2008 and bonding over a shared love of Photek and other deep-house artists. And the partnership that's developed between these bromantic DJs has resulted in some epic indie, electro, and dance-music mixes that have gotten a major… More >>
  • Best Crate-Digging DJ


    Alex Votichenko doesn't just collect records — he stockpiles them. When local filmmaker and blogger Gregory Harshfield interviewed the turntablist (who's better known by his nom de guerre Djentrification) for the online documentary Vinyl: A Phoenix Story, viewers got a glimpse inside Votichenko's Central Phoenix home, where an entire room is lined from floor to ceiling with haphazardly stacked milk… More >>
  • Best Local Band

    St Ranger

    Phoenix-based St Ranger crams more ideas into Life Coach, its five-song debut, than most bands manage to fit on full LPs. And what's more, the five-piece does it with style and ease, never feeling unnecessary or forced. The easy bounce of "Take Time" rolls with a soul-pop groove and pop-and-lock bass, and the Beach Boys-gone-math-rock of "It's 'Appening" pulses with… More >>
  • Best Up-and-Comer


    It hasn't taken long for 22-year-old Youceff Kabal — who makes beats that straddle the thin line separating chillwave, ambient hip-hop, and electronic pop — to establish himself as a presence on Phoenix stages alongside touring indie stars like Toro y Moi, Phantogram, and Youth Lagoon. Kabal's quick rise is due mostly to his way around a sample board, and… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    Secret Fox

    This year has been a pretty damn good one for Guided by Voices fans. Not only did main man Robert Pollard reunite the "classic '93-'96 lineup" for three albums — Let's Go Eat the Factory, Class Clown Spots UFO, and the forthcoming Bears for Lunch (in addition to Mouseman Cloud, another in his torrential downpour of solo records), but the… More >>
  • Best Traditional New Orleans Band

    Bad Cactus Brass Band

    While the birthers and xenophobes who patrol the border might too easily forget it, Arizona is a land of transplants and exiles. Dig around and you're likely to find little pockets of culture from all around the globe in our neighborhoods and boroughs. Still, no one is going to blame you for being surprised by The Bad Cactus Brass Band,… More >>
  • Most Creative Band Marketers

    Bears of Manitou

    Bears of Manitou has drawn plenty of fans around Phoenix for its indie-folk tunes, but its members have managed to attract attention beyond that, staging the kind of interesting marketing stunts that get fans involved and laughing. A few days after the debut of Call-In Oates, a phone service that allowed fans to dial an 800-number and play some lo-fi… More >>
  • Best Remixer

    Mercurius FM

    While everyone in the electronic game has tripped over themselves to call what they do something else — chillwave, dancecore, bit-pop — Mercurius FM has stuck stridently to his roots, calling his May 2012 mix This Is Techno. Mercurius routinely updates his blog with gloriously old-school remixes of artists like Usher, The Beastie Boys, Prince, and his own analog compositions.… More >>
  • Best Name-Dropper

    Keith Jackson

    Valley rock 'n' roll icon Keith Jackson has been ambling around Phoenix's music scene for more than two decades now. The genial 6-foot-6 guitarist, who skillfully wielded a six-string in such landmark bands as Beat Angels and Glass Heroes, has experienced plenty of wild misadventures during that time. Jackson's got the stories to prove it and is more than eager… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch EDM Stars Under the Stars

    Bar Smith's Rooftop Lounge

    When Steve Aoki and his cohorts from Dim Mak Records kicked off their DeadMeat tour at Comerica Theatre this past January, this all-star ensemble of EDM talent was backed by a massive stage setup rivaling that of major rock concerts. Millions of LED bulbs illuminated a towering backdrop and six-foot-tall DJ riser, as well as glow panels spelling out Aoki's… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Seen

    Dollhouse Cocktail Lounge - CLOSED

    It seems everyone wants to spend a night at the Dollhouse, but there's never enough room. Hence the lengthy line of would-be clubgoers that seems to be a permanent fixture outside the front entrance. One of the reasons why people are desperate for a golden ticket into the glitzy Indian Plaza drink parlor is the desire to be seen by… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    The Mint

    Of its many upscale amenities — resort-like cabanas, delicious Asian fusion small plates, the Swarovski crystal chandelier, and the always-mesmerizing LED cube — The Mint's best perk isn't one you'd find touted on its website: the attention-grabbing clientele. Scope out the danceteria's typical Friday and Saturday mix and you're guaranteed to spy practically every niche of the Scottsdale crowd parading… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a One-Night Stand

    American Junkie

    The art of seduction is a tricky one to master, which is probably why there've been enough books written about picking up the opposite sex to fill an entire library. One thing is certain: It helps to have the odds stacked in your favor, which is why we recommend marshaling the wingmen and testing out your game at American Junkie.… More >>
  • Best Place to Document Your Drunken Shenanigans

    HotBoxx video booth at Smashboxx - CLOSED

    Ever wonder why your head is filled with fuzzy recollections on the morning after a big-time bender? To paraphrase Jamie Foxx, you can blame it on the alcohol. See, the neurons populating the hippocampus region of your brain — specifically, the ones responsible for memory formation — don't take kindly to last night's orgy of alcohol. (They don't call 'em… More >>
  • Best After-Hours

    The Firehouse Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    It's apropos that this Scottsdale hot spot resides in a former fire station, considering the fact that four-alarm fiestas happen in the joint practically every single evening it's open for business. Its interior typically contains a throng of stylishly dressed revelers who flock here during Old Town's peak partying hours, from 11 p.m. onward on weekend nights. Things get even… More >>
  • Best Secret After-Hours

    Quincy Ross

    Although he's way too cool to ever sport an elf hat, photographer Quincy Ross is pretty much the Peter Pan of the downtown Phoenix art scene. It's partially because the enigmatic artist and bon vivant seems perpetually young at heart despite pushing 40. Mostly, though, it's because of his habit of leading local hipsters, creative types, and party fiends on… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Everything from Pizza to Condoms to Toilet Paper Delivered to Your Doorstep in the Middle of the Night

    Nighttime Nosh

    So you made it home from the clubs (we won’t ask how) and you’re safe in your living room — but you’re starving. Or thirsty. Out of cigarettes, low on toilet paper and in desperate need of a condom. And it’s 2 a.m. No worries — that’s why God invented Nighttime Nosh. Described by its owners as a “convenience store… More >>
  • Best Quixotic Endeavor

    Pavle Milic's Wine-Making Adventure

    Scottsdale restaurateur Pavle Milic is on a mission to make Arizona wine. He's teamed up with Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas Winery to collaborate on a special blend of tempranillo, primitivo, and syrah grapes. He invited us down to Elgin for the first harvest of 2012. At 4 a.m. So don't take that bottle of wine for granted,… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn the Science of Guitar-Making

    Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery

    Don't get us wrong; we applaud anyone who knows how to play a mean guitar. But we must say, we're even more impressed by someone who knows how to build one. Chances are good that if they do, they learned it at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Since 1975, Roberto Venn has been attracting students of all makes and models:… More >>
  • Best Mixologist

    Shel Bourdon at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

    Smart, sassy, super-cute, and a master of her cocktail craft, Shel Bourdon is the gal behind the outstanding cocktail menu at CityScape's Blue Hound Kitchen at the Palomar Hotel. The 24-year-old mixologist and lead bartender created the restaurant's entire menu of handcrafted cocktails that are classic, down-to-earth, and, most important, drinkable. The California transplant's creations are the perfect complement to… More >>
  • Best Bitters

    AZ Bitters Lab

    Husband-and-wife team Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys are more than just cocktail enthusiasts — they are straight-up cocktail scientists. The pair has been making their own infused bitters for the past couple of years in their Gilbert kitchen, experimenting with flavors ranging from a bright herb orange in the Orange Sunshine to the warm and sweet Figgy Pudding. Using as many… More >>
  • Best Hologram

    Tupac by AV Concepts

    All anyone could talk about after this year's Coachella Festival of Music and Arts was Tupac, an artist 16 years in the grave (despite all that buzzy clatter you hear to the contrary). Pac was resurrected by AV Concepts, an audio-visual company based in Tempe and San Diego. They utilized a Musion Eyeliner screen and a 30-by-13-foot project screen to… More >>
  • Best Shock Jock

    Barry Schwartz

    Barry Schwartz deals in volts and watts. The local artist and electricity aficionado creates large-scale installations and hosts experimental performance pieces, of sorts, with found and donated electrical equipment and high-voltage results. He was once a bigwig overseas, where he installed large-scale pieces in Germany, but nowadays, you can find him tinkering around and testing sockets at the Icehouse in… More >>
  • Best Mixer

    John's Premium Tonic Syrup

    John Cavanagh's been crafting small batches of tonic (as in "gin and") since 2008, but the heady elixir really took off this year, with a glowing Wall Street Journal writeup and a New Times Big Brain culinary award. The concentrated syrup's easy to ship and store — simply add soda water to reconstitute. Snag some on the spot at sister… More >>
  • Best Science Class with Suds

    Birds 'n' Beer at Third Thursdays at Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center

    The interior of the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in South Phoenix tends to be filled with people during the evening hours on every third Thursday of month. Why are they here? The answer is twofold: sex and cheap beer. Both enticements are a major part of the monthly Birds 'n' Beer event. Valley residents pack folding chairs… More >>
  • Best Sleep-Based Debate

    Lucid Dreaming with Dr. Gary Schwartz

    What our brains do while we're asleep has been studied in labs by researchers and sleep experts for decades. Our brain waves have been charted, our twitches, snores, and movements documented, and our dreams written down for use in studies around the globe. But until recently, scientists have been hesitant to research and document lucid dreaming, which differs from conventional… More >>