BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE A MEMBER OF THE RAT PACK

Hotel Valley Ho

Hotel Valley Ho
Rat Pack paradise must look something like this. The midcentury design that makes you think of The Sands (now defunct). The sweeping driveway with the backlit retro signage. The generous patio overlooking the pool, with open fires nearby on cool nights. All you'd need is Dean Martin with a cocktail in hand, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. clownin' at the bar, and maybe a young Shirley MacLaine high on champagne, and the picture would be complete: a Scottsdale Ocean's Eleven, like the original 1960 version, not those dumb Steven Soderbergh remakes. Peter Lawford'd be wooing some curvy dame in Trader Vic's next door, and Joey Bishop'd be holed up in the hotel restaurant Café ZuZu, with a plate of gourmet meatloaf and copy of Daily Variety.

Bishop and MacLaine are still kickin', natch, but just go with the concept, okay? It ain't too far-fetched. Celebs like Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, and Robert Wagner all found reason to be here once upon a time. And now that this classy joint's reopened with its $80 million renovation, it's drawing a new round of Tinseltown types, like Jamie Foxx, and others. And perhaps even the ghosts of a few erstwhile Rat Packers on holiday from heaven.

Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
When we're torn between the world of drinking wine in pajamas and watching Netflix versus getting gussied up for a night at a shiny club, there's one place where we can feel the thrill of grabbing a drink with the protective armor of anonymity. Kazimierz World Wine Bar offers a cozy cover of darkness with a burgundy interior prickled by candlelight. The stone walls and wooden wine casks make us feel like we're in a 19th-century port town cellar pub. The soft audio of jazz, Latin, and world beat serves an ambiance of private conversation as you sit on the squishy sofas and chairs. Sneak a meeting with a friend or love interest without the risk of being recognized or bombarded with social obligation. No need for the hat-and-glasses bit because even the entrance at the rear of the building is undercover.

BEST PLACE TO GET THE STIFFEST DRINKS IN TOWN

The Black and Tan

The Black and Tan has been the subject of much secrecy and speculation over the past couple of years. The joint is an underground speakeasy of sorts, which is a nice way of saying it's not an official venue and that it doesn't have a liquor license (and, rumor has it, it's perpetually closing). Since we've already been falsely accused of "outing" the place in a recent Best of Phoenix issue (note: we have never disclosed anything about the club's location or who runs it, and in fact, we don't know the latter), we're not going to get into details. Let's just say you have to be "in the know" to go. But if and when you do go, drop some cash on the bar, because it'll be the best bang for your booze buck in the city. If you order a Vodka/Red Bull at the B&T, you get a plastic cup that's about 90 percent vodka and a couple drops of Red Bull — a swine steal at $3. A straight-up Red Bull costs only a buck. Anything with alcohol is going to be made to lay you out here, and considering that we often have to order doubles at legit establishments just to get a buzz going, we'd be boozing at the B&T every night if we could.
La Grande Orange Grocery
Courtesy of La Grande Orange
If you like your sangria white and crisp, we cannot possibly recommend a better cup of quaff than at this popular Arcadia pizzeria. The fruit has been soaking just long enough to make it intoxicating without crossing the line to overwhelming — and the drink itself is so light, it'll leave you floating.

Only problem: Everyone else in town loves this place, too, so you may need to add one of the to-die-for pizzas to your order to get a table. Life is so hard.

Durant's
No point in serving us a dainty dash of vodka with a silly lemon twist. When we want a martini, we want it old-school: gin, olives, the tiniest touch of vermouth, and a giant icy glass.

Durant's delivers on every level. Even better, the drinks aren't poured by some silly college girl who thinks cleavage compensates for bad service. In the dark, clubby bar of this Phoenix institution, you'll get a crash course in what the good old days had to offer: All the classics, done simply and perfectly.

ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
Heather Hoch
When we're drinking a cosmo, we want to feel girly, giddy, and a little retro. The bar at Café ZuZu, the bright restaurant at the Hotel Valley Ho that specializes in stylin' '50s-era comfort food, has just the right vibe. And the bartenders, thank God, know how to do this pink lady to perfection. Tart and sweet at the same time, it's the perfect drink for spring evenings by the pool, fall nights by the fireside, and just about every time in between.
The Roosevelt Tavern
Thank you, Matt Pool, for establishing yet another kickass downtown hang. The owner/chef of Matt's Big Breakfast opened the smashing Roosevelt Tavern in late December 2006 to better serve the downtown eatin' and drinkin' crowd. Among the 20 selections of wines and 45 beer choices is the Roosevelt House Beer, a perfect concoction exclusively created for the tavern by Tempe's famed Four Peaks Brewery.

The irresistible pale ale contains delicate fruit flavors such as grapefruit and an über-light aftertaste that appeals to both recreational boozers and more sophisticated social drinkers. Don't be surprised to gulp down some ice bits along with the liquid goodness served in a tall, Arctic-cold pint glass (ooh, so good) because each draft beer is chilled with a glycol cooling system and poured directly from the glass-encased keg room. You can also enjoy a menu of comfort food like Campfire Beans and Franks and hot, doughy pretzels, all while bathed in the intimate atmosphere of the red-brick 1900 Farish House.

Hollywood Alley
Veteran Valley bartender and mini-music-mogul Vil Vodka is known for his potent custom shots, usually created for the purpose of promoting or paying homage to local bands. Vodka's "Robitussin" shot, introduced in 2004, smells and tastes like its cough syrup namesake, but taking one shot is probably the equivalent of downing two bottles of the real stuff. Vodka's latest concoction, the "Orange Sunshine" shot — which he calls "a ghetto variant of the vodka bomber commonly known as Tic-Tac or Sunkist" — is named after the new album by local psych-punks Blanche Davidian, and it's stronger than shit, too. The recipe for destruction is as follows: Place one shot of cheap orange vodka (the creator says, "save your Stoli and Grey Goose for your martinis") inside three ounces of the juicy Kronik Entourage energy drink, and chug. Sounds slight enough if you make it at home, but if you order one at Hollywood Alley, be prepared for a head spin.
The Paisley Violin
Molly Smith
Located in the heart of the Grand Avenue arts district, Paisley continues to bless red-eyed customers with caffeinated godsends. The cute cafe with a European flair features a stacked coffee bar chock full of espresso drinks, mochas, and the completely delicious maple latte, a concoction with two shots of Italian espresso, a healthy pour of 100 percent maple syrup, and steamed milk. Enjoy the best meal of the day (coffee) during select eves showcasing ambient jazz by acts like Try Me Bicycle and acoustic singer/songwriter specialities by out-of-towners such as Tiff Jimber.
Zen 32
You live in downtown Phoenix, your friend hangs in Scottsdale, and you need a meeting point before you hit a house party in Tempe. It's 9 p.m., and you and your crew want to start boozing ASAP, but God forbid you're the first ones at the party. Meet up at a bar, but beware and choose wisely, because the wrong decision could easily bust up the night's agenda. If you go to a club that's really bumpin', you're not going to want to leave. Hit a dive bar, and you'll be overdressed and uncomfortable — no way to gear up for a night of debauchery. Zen 32 has saved our social asses on a number of occasions. With its teeny but super-swanky bar, this sushi and drinking bar is the perfect rendezvous. Reasonable drink prices and a decent, well-dressed crowd offer just enough to hold you over for that crucial hour and a half before you have to move on. See you there.

Best Of Phoenix®

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