Best Cocktail 2002 | The Flirtini | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix
We'll keep this one simple. How can you go wrong when you mix two crowd-pleasers: a martini and bubbly? You can't, and the proof is in The Flirtini, a concoction of champagne, vodka and vermouth you'll find at Zen 32. The result is the confidence of a martini and the lightheaded delight of champagne, quite the social lubricant. And the taste is even better than it sounds. But be warned: It goes down a lot easier than a regular martini and hits you a lot faster, too. Don't say we didn't warn you.

The hottest damn thing in Arizona isn't the summer sun; it's the "Suicide" wings at Long Wong's in college town. When you order the "Suicide" wings, they ask you, skeptically, if you've ever had "Suicide" wings. Realizing that the unsuspecting might have tried the wimpy version at other Long Wong's outlets in the Valley, the staff then follows up its initial question with: "Have you had our Suicide' wings before?"

They ask with a smile. There are no refunds.

These wings immediately encase your skull in flop sweat on the outside and trigger a Gatling gun of endorphin firings on the inside.

The secret ingredient in this kitchen is chili powder ground from habanero peppers, nasty little boogers variously estimated at 30 to 50 times the heat of a mere jalapeo. They ladle the habanero powder into the sauce with a shovel for the "Suicide" wings.

There is nothing spicier anywhere in the Grand Canyon State.

Looking for a place that plays more than just the four most popular dance songs? "Batucada" has moved to Soho on Wednesday nights, and if it weren't for the musical stylings of DJs Sinbad, Pete Salaz, Maji and others, you wouldn't be able to get the house-heads from Phoenix to mix with the posh Scottsdale crowd. This sultry music will make you want to move, and the atmosphere is relaxed and sexy. Plus, we guarantee that you won't hear another remix of "Rapture" or "I Can't Get You Out of My Head."
Michael's is one of the only restaurants in town where we don't mind if we can't get a table right away. Because while we're waiting, we can head upstairs and settle in at his high-class bar. It's almost like our own private dining area, plush with long cushy sofas, overstuffed armchairs, an incredible selection of wines and spirits, lovely views of Scottsdale's sunsets, and, if we're lucky, musical selections from our favorite lounge talent, David Grossman (he does a meltingly tender rendition of Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection" and "It's Not Easy Being Green").

Plus, we can order selections from Michael's menu, like his always amusing amusé of Michael's "Silver Spoon" hors d'oeuvres, shrimp-stuffed rigatoni in Chardonnay tomato thyme sauce, seared foie gras on Sauvignon poached pear duck confit salad, or soy-glazed calamari on gingered crab risotto.

Hmm. Maybe we'll just table those dinner plans and stay right where we are in the bar.

Beautiful places attract beautiful people. And O is just that kind of place: a voyeur's paradise. Sit back and enjoy the people, the decor or the TV screens playing music videos. The people here are the cream of the crop, at least as far as looks go, in a city that is already known for its highly groomed folk. These guys and girls are hot and dressed to kill. Still, don't be fooled into thinking that the lack of a cover charge means you are getting a free show. You will more than make up for it in the price of drinks.

Best Place To Get Your Ribs Tickled At Midnight

The Rhythm Room

The Rhythm Room is a blues bar. But there's nothing sad about the snacks, where you can gather to gorge on barbecued ribs at midnight. This is parking lot cuisine, but it's cool, cat, where on Saturday and Sunday nights you can sink your teeth into "Sunny Sunshine Barbecue Sauce" drenched ribs, pork loin, beef tri-tops, chicken and hot links. It's served out of a mobile grill, and when you're satisfied, then you can head back inside for a cold brew and some sounds from Sistah Blue.
Jennifer Goldberg
We're not sure who Casey Moore is, but we sure do like hanging out at his house. In fact, all historic homes should be this happening: 13 beers on tap, jocular bartenders who do handstands on the bar, and decidedly un-bar-like dinner specials. And should you find yourself eating in one of the second-story dining rooms, there's no need to order spirits: The home, built in 1910, is reputedly haunted.

Mr./Mrs. Moore's front porch and side yard are strewn with tables and benches where the laid-back and liquored-up can lounge. The crowd encompasses all kinds, from hard-drinking hippies to hot NFL has-beens, but the overall vibe is one of ease and unpretentiousness.

Best Place To Watch First Wives And Gigolos


We are positively mesmerized by the crowds at Barcelona. The location in Chandler is pretty neat, throbbing with fine young things looking beautiful and looking to get lucky. But the outpost in Scottsdale is a much older, much more interesting group. Just look to the headliner, the Zowie Bowie Band, a punk-retro completely camp act with takeoffs of classic lounge-lizard songs like Sinatra's "My Way." This is a clientele that's not bothered by pricey cocktails and even pricier snacks. These are guys with slicked-back hair and sans-a-belt pants, women with high top hair and fancy dress clothes that remind us of the days of disco. Plus, the setting is sublime: The signature domed ceiling with hand-painted dancing cherubs appears to float over the main dining room, which later transforms into the dance floor. It's 25,000 square feet of old fart fun!

Comely ladies, accommodating bar staff, sharp-looking men, and a charming atmosphere are the ingredients necessary for beguiling a client. And the Merc Bar is just classy enough to show that you have taste, but cozy enough to avoid pretension. You can call it a refined hole in the wall. And Troy, the energetic general manager, will even make you his specialty, Caipirinha, which earned last year's Best Cocktail award from New Times.

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