Its homespun character rises in part from the collages lining the wooden walls, displaying the drunken-to-varying-degree visages of thousands who have passed through -- or out. And because liquor and literature are natural complements, a shelf full of paperback books sits within reach of the bar.
Singing the House's praises, perennial patron Greg mentions its "tight-knit group" of regulars. Indeed, when ex-bartender Tim enters, his name rises in a Norm Peterson-style chorus. The place is, above all, accessible. It opens at 6 a.m. daily, except on Sundays, when the sobriety of the Sabbath is observed until 10 a.m.
On Saturday "Retro Nights," Anderson's marks the spot for a handful of phenomena that left the building when Reagan did: $2.50 Long Islands, Duran Duran videos and Robert Smith-grade eyeliner. Yet somehow, this place revisits the '80s without getting cheesy, campy or Scottsdale-swanky. There's no attitude here -- just sweaty young people sporting everything from Nikes to neck spikes.
Yes, Anderson's attracts a faithful throng of somber goth kids, and it only makes things more interesting. As the lighthearted revival rises in the Main Room, the goth group mopes about the Elbow Room, weaving in and out of elevated cages and wondering how soon is now. The rooms' opposing moods make for a nice contrast -- Aerosmith vs. The Smiths, AC/DC vs. ABC -- but the overall vibe is so laid-back that any spot on either dance floor is fair play, whether you're doing the dance Safety, Neutron or Humpty; walking the dinosaur or walking on sunshine; dancing on the ceiling or dancing with yourself.
Then there are the added benefits: $1 Kamikaze shooters, $2 mini-pitchers of Milwaukee's Best, Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett on the jukebox (four plays for a dollar), and the knowledge that if you show up, tip well, and buy your tee shirts untested, you can still do your part to keep the posers at bay.
Sun Devil Liquors supports our penniless status, hosting tastings of approachable wines like Kendall Jackson for a low $5. But the best deal is every day in the basement, where a cozy brick-floored wine cellar awaits. Grab one of the few wooden tables, or take a seat at the bar and groove to piped-in jazz. Sample as much wine as you like, priced from just 50 cents to $3 each. Nibble on complimentary cheeses, or pack in your own snacks. Still too rich? There are free tastings every day from 3 to 5 p.m., from a more limited selection. Cheers!
Ice Breakers offers interactive brewing. This means you get to brew your own beer, but, not being professional hops masters, you get a coach to guide you through the process. The deal even includes custom label design with your name, image, logo or other clever idea on each bottle. And you use the same equipment and ingredients as served in professional restaurants. You'd better really like beer, though -- the smallest batch available is 15 gallons -- a full keg (the equivalent of 72 22-ounce bottles).
And you'd also better be patient. The initial brewing takes up to three hours. Fermentation time is two weeks. Bottling the finished beer takes about an hour. How long it takes to down the final keg, though, is completely up to you.
The opportunities to be impressed are endless. Perhaps we'll settle back on the outdoor patio of Jade Bar, watching as the city lights sparkle up into nighttime. It's so private it's almost a personal retreat, where we sip martinis or specialty sakes. Maybe we'll treat ourselves to dinner at the adjacent Elements restaurant, indulging in farm-fresh American cuisine sparked with Asian accents amid a sleek setting of wood, stone and fire. Wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows mean panoramic views of Paradise Valley. Or we might just kick back by the swimming pool, an outrageous infinity-edge pool overlooking Camelback's Praying Monk rock outcrop. After the sun sleeps, the pool glows with light and dances with flames flickering from surrounding fire bowls. Simply Zen-sational.
Durant's is old-fashioned, and that's it. Nothing more needed. Which is why its martinis taste so much better than anywhere else. They're served by waitresses who have worked here for more than two decades. We can have a cigar alongside, should we want. Cell phones are ceremoniously tossed. We can drink martinis at lunch, and no one in the dark dining room will tattle to our bosses. We enter and leave through the kitchen, because it's nobody's business what we're up to once we enter Durant's. Life doesn't get any better in any generation.