District American Kitchen and Wine Bar
A friend of ours is in love, and it's not with a girl or even with his cat. No, this guy is besotted with District, the swanky restaurant bar at the downtown Sheraton. He loves the long, curvy bar where he can cozy up to a tart Sage Julep (Maker's Mark and lemon juice with limes and tiny sage leaves), a house specialty and one of a long list of muddled drinks on the drink menu. Pretty much everything on the bar's food menu (we love the house-baked bread served with olive oil from Queen Creek) is locally grown — another reason to love District. But what our pal loves most is that all this stuff — the bread, the hooch, the tasty bar plates — is marked way down, twice a day: once in the late afternoon and again during reverse happy hour at night. In other words, our friend's true love is a cheap date.
Tuscan Oven
We're prone to weeping because happy hour at Tuscan Oven doesn't take place 24 hours a day. True, it keeps us occupied and blissful Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., with $4 domestic and imported beers and all signature drinks and wines by the glass priced at $3 off. But why can't it just go on and on? Why must we wait 'til late afternoon for specials like fried green beans or calamari, both available for a wee fee of $5 from the bar's small-plate menu? Why can't the mixologists come home with us to blend Pama pomegranate liqueur and Bacardi with fresh lime, club soda, and raw sugar, so that we don't have to go to them for a happy hour special called a Pamajito, which has changed both our tiny lives and our idea of what makes a great happy hour?
San Tan Brewing Company
What's a pub with no grub? Or a brewery with no . . . foodery? You know what we're getting at. The best part of happy hour is twofold: drinks and apps — and San Tan has 'em both. The place brews its own stuff; we're talking $3.75 for pints of pilsner, hefeweizen, IPA, stouts, and ale that'll wash down the $5 Buffalo wings, chips and dip, platter of sliders, and cilantro lime hummus. It may be one of the strongest pulses in the Southeast Valley, so check it out any day of the week from 3 to 7 p.m.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives
Happy hours should be crowded, loud, and a bit obnoxious. Your server should give you something to look at besides the rounds she's hoisting. The food should be delicious and, maybe, a little bad for you. Happy hour is where we gather to say, "Yeah, I sat and drilled away for The Man all day, too. But I could stick it to him if I wanted." As proof, we sit and drink pint after pint and eat our nachos when it's not even dark outside! What better place to participate in the renewal than Tempe landmark Four Peaks? The pints are handcrafted (as are the pizzas, with dough made fresh daily using Four Peak's ales). Kiltlifter is so frickin' good that it's sold at Trader Joe's, for Chrissakes. So what if there are no food specials during happy hour (from 2 until 6 and again from 10 until close)? Everything on the menu is reasonably priced and easy to share. People drive to this historic 1892 brick from all over for the artichoke dip. Most important, pints are $3, pitchers are $11. Happy, happy.
House of Tricks
Timur Guseynov
House of Tricks isn't perched on a hill or tucked up against a mountain. It's pretty much what it sounds like — an old house in downtown Tempe, rehabbed before rehabbing old houses was the thing to do in these parts, and it's so damn charming that we'll take the view of twinkly lit trees and a roaring outdoor fireplace over red rocks any day. We are also partial to Tricks' bag when it comes to cocktails, served by the aforementioned fireplace on a pretty deck. Belly up to the funky tiled bar and choose a local beer or an artisan cocktail. After a couple drinks, you'll swear you're in a big city — in a good way.
Recovery Room
John Kunst knows a thing or two about stability. As owner and silver-fox sage of The Recovery Room for 26 years, Kunst has kept his neighborhood bar daytime-dependable for those seeking serenity before the sun goes down. A dark, cozy interior, blue-hued pool tables, and the ear of a friendly barkeep set the scene for patrons who can order their afternoon brew alongside a 99-cent lunch of a hamburger, two beef tacos, or chicken sandwich (all with a side of chips) every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or with free bowls full of Kunst's homemade chili, served up on Sundays.
Wanderin
Lauren Cusimano
This cash-only gin joint offers no gimmicks and even less attitude. It's simply a place where drinkers go to drink — and maybe enjoy some pool or a $3.75 pizza, too. Though it's scruffy on the outside, the Wanderin's interior may strike first-timers as both unusually big and remarkably clean. But make no mistake. This bar isn't pretending to be a dive; it truly is one. Your first clue: Drink prices are inscribed on liquor bottles with a Sharpie. Your second: A phone number labeled "police" is helpfully taped to the mirror behind the bar, just in a case a fight should break out. The real kicker? Happy hour is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and the drink special is $2 PBRs, which'll save you a whopping 25 cents per beer. Hey, when you start drinking as early in the morning as the Wanderin's regulars, those savings add up.
Maverick Saloon
It's not a bar — it's a patio. At least, that's the technical term and how owner Alfonso Larriva got the city off his back after an 18-month renovation to allow smoking inside the Maverick Saloon. With slats on the windows allowing air to blow in and cigarette smoke to blow out, patrons can puff away with lively locals bellied up to the dark wooden bar, or they can relax on a corner couch listening to kick-ass country music on the juke, watching TV, or enjoying live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday. And with friendly barkeeps serving up drinks and grub costing less than a pack of cigs, the Maverick Saloon is one smokin' good time.
Chopper John's
New Times Archives
The black exterior and the Harleys parked out front say biker. The back patio's ironworks spelling out the word "welcome" atop an acoustic guitar says hipster. The ocean mural says . . . Well, that one's a head-scratcher. Since 2008, Chopper John's co-owner, John McCormick, has combined his love of motorcycles and music into a biker bar with a hipster sidecar. With Sunday jam sessions and an eclectic mix of local bands on Friday and Saturday nights, leather-clad riders and skinny-jean-wearing trendies may not always agree on the evening's sounds, but the drink specials and lively scene keep both groups coming together for another round.
Amsterdam
Most bars' designated smoking areas seem like afterthoughts — small, sad patches of parking lot concrete with a butt bucket bought at Home Depot. Not at Amsterdam. Puffers can pick a martini from one of the bar's 10 menu pages, then stroll the swanky outdoor scene, lighting up alongside the here-to-be-seen set, bouncing to techno beats on the patio's dance floor, or lounging diva-like on overstuffed leather couches, taking long drags in spacious comfort and soft lighting. With an extra bar outside, Amsterdam's smoking patio is tailor-made for tokers, because the party never has to move indoors.

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