The Spot: Dirty Martini Bistro & Bar
1140 East Washington Street, Phoenix
The Hours: Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Perfect For: Slightly elevated bar fare with fancy cocktails featuring top shelf liquor at a place that's close to Chase Field and Talking Stick Arena.
The Interior: There's nothing special about Dirty Martini's interior, but the place effortlessly puts out a "classic" vibe, complete with Motown songs playing in the background and Marilyn Monroe pictures on the wall. The dark, blue-ish lighting gives the spot a speakeasy-ish feel.
The Food: The happy hour food menu at Dirty Martini is pretty simple — and we like it that way. It's especially great if you're in the mood for typical bar fare, like wings or sliders. We went for the Asian pork belly sliders ($9) and the dirty fries ($6).
The sliders, with tender pork belly and tangy coleslaw, came with fluffy, brioche buns. The coleslaw offered a strong, ginger flavor but we didn't exactly mind it. In fact, the tang balanced out well with the substantial buns. The portion size—two decently-sized sliders—was perfect for dinner.
The dirty fries are crispy, thinly-cut french fries tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic, and other spices. While they were great and paired well with our sliders, we were a little less jazzed about the price: $6 felt like just a little too much, especially for happy hour.
The Drink: Dirty Martini's craft cocktail menu might be even more impressive than its list of martinis with intriguing options like Monroe's Secret ($11), a tequila concoction with elderflower, lemon and blueberry, or the Cool Hand Luke ($12), which includes aloe vera liqueur. Both craft cocktails and martinis are $2 off at happy hour, and range from $8 to $12 before discount.
Off the cocktail list, we tried the Cliff Hanger ($9), a drink made with Hanger One Kaffir vodka, St. George raspberry liqueur, lime, and ginger beer. We were especially impressed by the use of Bundaberg ginger beer in the drink, a nice brand for cocktails. Served in a copper mug, the Cliff Hanger was ice-cold and refreshing, with the taste striking a balance between sweet and sour.
As for martinis, the Toasted Almond martini ($6) made for an excellent, nutty dessert, with a Hershey's kiss sitting at the bottom of the glass. A lot of the martinis listed (like the Thin Mint and Cake Batter cocktails) are made with very sweet liqueurs, so we feared the toasted almond—made with amaretto, Kahlúa, and heavy cream—might just be too sweet. Luckily, it wasn't at all. In fact, there was a distinct almond flavor which made the creamy martini delightful to the last drop.
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Conclusion: Conveniently situated by the Washington and Twelfth Street light rail stop, we wouldn't hesitate to go to Dirty Martini for another happy hour. The food, a step above average bar food, was flavorful and filling. Meanwhile, the drink menu—especially the inventive craft cocktails— is enough to bring us back for a taste of everything.
Don't Miss: The cocktails. Many are made with top shelf liquor and we could taste the difference in both of our drinks.
Skip This: The fries, which just weren't fancy enough to cost $6.