If you're planning on visiting the G&D because you've heard the selection of English pub beers and great cozy feel is just scrummy, you might be surprised to find another great secret of the Dragon in addition to authentic pub drafts and grub, the G&D stocks one of the finest selections of cigars and scotch in the Valley. Put down a Balvenie single malt, one of 28 scotches in stock, while puffing away on a Fuente cigar to your heart's content. In fact, since the George and Dragon is a smoke-friendly bar, you can make like the English and tell anyone who complains about your smoking to just piss off. The Macanudo, a peppery and earthy Jamaican import, is perfect for stogie noobs who don't know that you're not supposed to inhale, while a swanky Partagas cigar is the luxury smoke of the house (it better be, at $12 apiece!). While you're sparking up, find out why the G&D consistently wins the Best English Pub award and try the award-winning fish and chips or shepherd's pie, and chase it down with one of the tubthumpin' 21 beers on tap.
Part of being a good reporter is being a pain in the butt when necessary. Part of being a good public information officer for a police department is not taking public records requests personally, and not losing one's cool when someone like us insists on getting his or her grubby little hands on the juicy stuff. We've met dozens of PIOs over the years some outstanding, some not so good (we define "good" as responding promptly, keeping us informed of the status of our requests and just being upfront with us at all times) and we're not easily fooled by glad-handers. Sergeant Dan Masters obviously loves his department, but he's not about to lie for it, or to keep us (or the rest of the public) from getting what's coming to us under the law. Consistent, always cordial and professional, the sarge does Tempe PD proud day after day.
It doesn't get much cooler than Camus. Not only is the bar/restaurant named after the French existentialist Albert Camus, author of The Stranger and The Plague, it's set in the renovated, boutique-y Clarendon Hotel, which is illuminated by red and blue lights in the evening, and exudes a studied hipster charm. The Clarendon's also a historic site, where investigative reporter Don Bolles took one for the team when a bomb exploded beneath his car in the Clarendon's parking lot back in 1976. Care to share a drink with the ghosts of both Camus and Bolles? Then you'd best saddle up to the red granite bar and let mixologist/owner Carson Quinn whip you up one of his signature concoctions, maybe a white chocolate almond martini, a lychee white sangria, or a mango mojito. Our preferred potation, however, is the Carson City Martini, which purists might sneer at, but which we love to inhale on an all-too-regular basis. The Carson City is a magnificent blend of Absolut citron, Stoli vanilla, Frangelico, crème de cacao, and shaved almonds. A martini that tastes like marzipan! Sheer genius. We always order them in triplicate one for us, one for Albert, and one for Don. And if Albert and Don aren't thirsty, well, we'll just have to drink for three.
Some years ago, the great science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury was asked by an audience member after a speech at Arizona State University, "What's the first thing that you'd tell one of your space aliens after they landed on Earth?" Bradbury didn't miss a beat. "Don't watch local TV news," he replied, to a rousing ovation. That said, we are pleased to report that Mike Watkiss passes our overly honed smell test as the real deal, a truly dogged reporter who loves to be first and right. His work on the polygamy scandal topped all other non-print types by a mile, and that's just one example of many. Maybe it's all those years doing the tabloid stuff on A Current Affair and Hard Copy. Or maybe it's the impressive education undergrad work at Stanford, and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia. Whatever the reason, we're happy to have this guy in town.
This popular establishment, located way up at DC Ranch, is well worth the trip on two engaging fronts. The sushi is excellent. And the signature martinis? Well, bet you'll have at least two. We especially love the "Mowie Wowie," a creative blend of Van Gogh pineapple vodka, tropical schnapps and a pineapple splash. Goes swimmingly with the yellowtail rolls. For more traditional types, the "Dean Martini" fits the bill your choice of a good vodka or gin, shaken and served straight up with a choice of specialty olives. And if you need a legal bump, try the "Clockwork Orange," which combines Player's Extreme Mandtango vodka with a blend of orange and tangerine juices, a splash of cherry juices, and here's the kicker Red Bull energy drink.
We don't know whether it's that '80s hair, the fact that she's Asian or that she projects that motherly TV charm, but Channel 12's Lin Sue Cooney gets our nod this year. We were always turned on by Donna Summer and the other disco queens of the day, and Saturday Night Fever is one of our all-time favorite films. We can just see the young, lithesome Lin Sue getting swirled around by John Travolta (before he chowed down too much and got the man teats) as Bee Gees falsetto blared. The gal's got great gams! Sure, Lin Sue has a little wear and tear on that face (she's been on TV here for 20 years), but it just gives you the impression that she's seen trouble and survived to pontificate about it on the tube. Maybe some of it's got to do with her husband's past legal troubles, but let's not get into that here. And maybe that warmth is just as much a fantasy as our dreams of her twirling around on the dance floor in high heels with her petticoats around her waist. Who cares? Come on, you've got to admit that Cooney is still hot, especially when she and co-anchor Mark Curtis (he of the porn-star mustache obviously touched up with Just for Men) sit on those high stools and all casual-like talk about the fun things that are going on in our fair metropolis. Like the arrests of a couple of serial killers, or how certain restaurants are really dirty. But the winning quality that Cooney possesses is that she really makes us think she cares about our little lives. Hey, if we came up a little short at Starbucks, we bet she'd pay for our double-decaf soy latte. We bet she really cares about those animals at the shelters she's always talking about, because when you look up "earnest" in the dictionary, there's her picture. Just kidding, of course.
FEZ
We'd like this swank downtown nightspot even without the pomegranate martinis after all, just being able to write "swank downtown nightspot" is something wonderful in Phoenix. But it's this drink in particular that takes our feelings from "like" to pure rapture. Yeah, pomegranate is everywhere this year, but nowhere in town is it so perfectly tart/sweet as in the martini glasses at FEZ. We were so inspired by this drink that we bought our own bottle of POM and attempted it at home; suffice it to say, we were back at FEZ the very next night.
We don't blame anyone for automatically dismissing a guy named "Johnjay" as one of those annoying radio personae not worth a listen. But this show, which hit the airwaves of 104.7 FM earlier this year after major success in Tucson, is far more amusing than its hosts' names let on. Like Howard Stern, but unlike most of his successors, these two know how to pace their shows. They don't rush through bits or force a laugh. And unlike other would-be shock jocks in the Valley, they're better at talking about Hollywood gossip than sports making KISS-FM the perfect destination for Stern fans who couldn't care less about the Suns, but really need to know everything about Lindsay Lohan.
Plenty of people in Arizona listened to morning radio host Howard Stern obsessively, but not too many of them listened to him for all four hours of his show, every day, for 10 years. Or purchased a license plate honoring him. Or bothered to fly all the way to New York City to fete his farewell to FM radio. But Alice Rubio, a West Valley mother of three and Qwest customer service rep, did exactly that, earning mention in a New Times cover story and, subsequently, an on-air chat with Howard after his satellite debut. Stern clearly recognized devotion when he saw it. "She's gotta be the biggest Howard Stern fan ever," he told his audience. We're not arguing with that one.
Sierra Bonita Grill
As with any scrumptious cocktail, the proof's in the amount of alcohol involved. Now, some places serve their mojitos weak. So weak, in fact, that they taste like lemonade with mint leaves thrown in. Not so at Sierra Bonita, the excellent Southwestern restaurant that's into its second year in Phoenix. At Sierra, the bartenders know how to mix the restaurant's specialty. So much so that try as we may this year we couldn't (during an exhaustive survey of bars in the metropolitan area) find a mojito with as much kick. Hic! For those of you who haven't an inkling of what a mojito's all about, let us school your ass in how one's mixed: Squeeze a lime into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of sugar and a bunch of washed mint leaves. Mush up the mess really well and pour it into a tall or fat glass of crushed ice. Fill the glass to about three-quarters of an inch from the top with good white rum. Sierra Bonita uses Bacardi Limn. Top the concoction with club soda or Sprite, stir thoroughly, and drink. It's the perfect treat for a hot Phoenix night. In fact, the night we were last at Sierra Bonita, it was 100 degrees after dark, and while at first we minded being seated on the outdoor patio (the beautiful indoor bar was packed), we soon didn't mind at all. After our third $6 mojito, we may as well have been in La Jolla.

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