Hanny's
Lauren Cusimano

For a long time, we were great admirers of the "super-size me" martini trend. So what if a Hendrick's martini at Durant's set us back $20? There were at least four shots of gin in that baby — and we had the buzz to match our bar bill. But this is 2009. We're broke, we're terrified of DUIs, and (frankly) there's a part of us that's just sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time. We were experiencing the good life, but today we're living through the hangover. Enter the "Essential Arctic Martini." At just $5, it's a bargain. And you can gripe about Hanny's tiny little "up" glasses, but this was what a martini looked like in 1950: a shot-and-a-half of gin, a dash of vermouth, and a lot of ice, shaken hard. If it was good enough for Hepburn and Tracy — and James Bond — who are we to complain?

A shakeup within Peter Kasperski's Old Town empire earlier this year ended with two unfortunate developments: the closing of his award-winning Sea Saw, and the downsizing of his new-yet-admired Digestif. Now, Digestif inhabits a much smaller space across the street (in fact, it's the same sleek room that used to house Sea Saw) and has a much trimmer menu. But what hasn't changed is the restaurant's commitment to interesting, complex libations. When we visited this summer, we were thrilled to see that the Pretti Ugly was still on the menu. A light fizz of chartreuse, Uglifruit liqueur, lemon and seltzer, it's a great hot weather treat. And then there's our new favorite, the Plum Dandy, which combines plum and agave nectars, tequila, and creme de mescal — yum! We're continuing to explore the rest of Digestif's cocktail list as summer becomes fall; we're pleased to report we have yet to be disappointed.

Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives

Ah, beer: the most humble and refreshing form of recuperation after the daily beatdown that is your job. Just gather your friends and head to a bar for a happy hour (or two). What? Your friends don't like beer? Teach them the error of their ways, starting with the Peach Ale at Four Peaks. Forget hoppy goodness and the power of top-fermenting (that's for real drinkers). Instead, surprise them with the light peach notes of this sumptuous brew. Who knows? Maybe next time they'll want to try an I.P.A. or stout.

Pinnacle Peak Patio
Courtesy of Pinnacle Peak

We don't remember drinking the Inebriator. Then again, how could we remember drinking anything containing 9 percent alcohol by volume? What we heard from our friends after re-hydrating, cleaning ourselves up, and figuring out which surface was the floor (without hitting it with our heads this time) was that the Inebriator from Sonoran Brewing Company is dark and delicious, like a caramel-wrapped chocolate revolution for your taste buds.

The Lost Leaf
The Lost Leaf

We didn't know what the hell Delirium Tremens was. Framboise Lambic? Sorry, we don't speak French. Or German. Especially not at the same time. Luckily, we stumbled into the Lost Leaf, where we took to the finer points of beer education. The coursework? One bottled beer at a time from the hundreds available: Dead Guy Ale, Ska Brewing, Nimbus Ale . . . Lost Leaf has them all. Want to make your beer blitz a social occasion? Hang out with friends any day of the week or during First Friday, when things go nuts with local music and an intimate dance space.

Mesa Amphitheatre

In Germany, it's October. In Arizona, it's March. Yes, we're referring to that magical time when every weekend seems to bring a new opportunity to engage in the drunken debauchery of a massive outdoor beer festival. Kicking things off on the last Saturday in February, the Arizona Strong Beer Festival in Mesa gets many of the same brewers as the other festivals, but its prime location (the intimate and lush Mesa Amphitheatre) and its great time slot (before there's any hint of heat to dampen the fun) make it special. Oh, yes, the beer . . . The Strong Beer fest gives brewers a chance to break out the high-octane stuff, meaning the lowest alcohol content you'll find is 8 percent. Yes, every beer you drink has about twice as much buzz as Bud Light. To mark the occasion, local brewers such as Four Peaks bring stuff you've probably never tried, and such regional brew powers as Dogfish Head are known to bust out a few barrels of limited-edition suds you'd pay a mint to sample otherwise.

Brigett's Last Laugh

Like karaoke and pool, Pabst Blue Ribbon is an American bar tradition, and Brigett's Last Laugh has all three. Sure, there are other places in town that serve PBR, but few serve it as cold or as cheap ($1.50 per can) as Brigett's. And because PBR has been associated with things like trailer parks, cheap drunks, and punk rock, many places that carry PBR don't advertise it. Not Brigett's. There's a big, shiny Pabst Blue Ribbon mirror hanging prominently in the bar, and the waitress will happily include it in her rundown of drink specials. So what if your friends roll their eyes when you order PBR and try to tell you to at least buy a Budweiser? At Brigett's, PBR's still king.

The Vig

We like to party and we're not ashamed to admit it. And since we've left college, our tastes have evolved beyond flip-flops and beer bongs. We crave an environment with a little more class, where we can relax and get faded while polishing off a few nice bottles of wine. Unfortunately, thanks to the crap state of our economy, we're still working with the same budget that we had in college. The folks at the Vig know that and have graciously offered up half-price bottles of wine all day on Sundays. With a spacious patio, upscale atmosphere, and tasty menu, we can't think of a better place to catch a buzz while maintaining our dignity and still have some scratch left over to pay the rent.

Wildfish Seafood Grille

Seventy-five-cent oysters? Five-dollar blood-orange margaritas? Five-dollar Bacardi mojitos? With prices this good, you could surely be forgiven for assuming that we were talking about some desperate hole in the hinterlands, offering incredible deals in hopes of luring someone — anyone — to spend happy hour at their place. But no. Unbelievably, all this is going on in one of the swankest dining rooms in the Scottsdale Fashion Square area — the lovely, stylin', and downright tasty Wildfish. During the summer, incredibly, these deals last all night long in the bar area, along with $5 off on an array of appetizers, including Wildfish's awesome salt-and-pepper gulf shrimp and the crab cake that New Times previously named the best in Phoenix. Not surprisingly, the place draws quite a crowd, but the bar area is spacious enough that you still won't get jostled — perhaps the best happy hour promise of all.

Hurricane Bay

What woman doesn't fantasize about relaxing under a palm tree on a sandy beach, being tended to by sexy waiters bearing fruity cocktails with little umbrellas? Well, we can't promise the sand or the tree, but ladies can live out the rest of their fantasies at Hurricane Bay's Wednesday Luxe Ladies Night. The 10,000-square-foot space was renovated earlier this year with such femme-friendly additions as plush padded seats and a sleek new wooden bar inlaid with pretty seashells. Of course, there's no entrance fee for women on Wednesdays. But the best part of Ladies Night at Hurricane Bay is that the $5 dude-cover scares off enough gents to leave most of the dance floor for us gals. Sorry, boys, but the beats (and, okay, the $4 Flashy-tini specials) are why we're really there.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of