Sure, Bailey's is sated with archetypal showboaters in French maid outfits and Britney-ready schoolgirl garb who slither and spin to rock riffage like AC/DC and Buckcherry. But the scene is hardly reminiscent of the classic strip bar milieu portrayed accurately in the Crüe video for its song "Girls, Girls, Girls."

Darkly lighted with gilded walls, ersatz foliage and inconspicuous patrons who strangely keep to themselves while focusing scrupulously on the sinewy and zaftig dancers, Bailey's has a subtle feel that's straight off the pages of a John O'Brien novel. It's an ambiance dissimilar to any other "cabaret" in town. It's at once strident and discreet, a contradiction that makes it the city's optimal spot for stripper buffs to consort discreetly.

"The Martini is to middle- and upper-class American society," says martini maven Barnaby Conrad III, "what peyote is to the Yaqui Indians: a sacred rite that affirms tribal identity, encourages fanciful thought and -- let's be honest here -- delivers a whoppingly nice high."

We'll drink to that.

And given our druthers, we'll be doing it in the understated elegance (Southwestern chandeliers, ornate wooden columns, a tuxedoed jazz pianist) of the cocktail lounge at Harris' Restaurant, where martini protocol amounts to religious ceremony -- right down to a signature crystal carafe nestled in an ice-filled mini-barrel. God forbid that one's last drop of martini be anything but properly chilled.

Readers' Choice: Martini Ranch

Tempe Improv Comedy Theatre
Yeah, yeah -- we know what you're thinking. Rum, lime juice, a spoonful of sugar (powdered, of course) and strawberries -- a daiquiri is a daiquiri is a daiquiri. So what's so special about the Improv version?

Rim shot -- the consistency! The Improv has mastered the perfectly blended daiquiri -- not too fruity, not too bland, and, most important, not too slushy. And while it's not traditional, and it's certainly not necessary, we also relish the whipped cream topping, itself topped with a maraschino cherry, skewered by a tiny sword.

The Improv? Take its daiquiri, please.

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