San Tan Brewing Company
There is no place we would rather be than lively SanTan Brewery. Converted from a bank into a traditional brewpub, SanTan cranks out great handcrafted brews and — as far as brewery food goes — the food is amazing. What really keeps us coming back is the friendly staff; they have mastered the art of customer service, something that is becoming harder and harder to find these days. Whether you're enjoying a beer as you watch the world pass by on the patio or you're stopping in for movie night on Mondays, you will always feel welcome at SanTan, and you might even decide to start calling the brewery home. This place does get pretty packed on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan on standing or making friends with your fellow bar patrons.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives
Admittedly, we liked Four Peaks' American IPA well enough before. What's not to like? It's made with seven different hops added at different times in the brewing process to combine in piney, grassy harmony. It's bitter but not biting, and it's backed by mild honey sweetness. It smells and tastes like a bowl of hop nuggets. We were just fine with enjoying the brew from the tap or the occasional bottle picked up from the brewery. And then they put it in cans, which turns out to like painting flames on a cheetah — making the awesome more awesome. Now Hop Knot is available all over, and not only are the flavor and aroma of the beer brighter and snappier in the can, but its portability means we can enjoy it anywhere. At the beach? Check. At the golf course? Check. While writing this? Triple check.

That's not the only Four Peaks brew we love: Sunbru is the beer we recommend to novice drinkers.

Think of it as the training bra of beers — start small and one day (hopefully) you can go big. Four Peaks' Sunbru is the perfect beer for beginners: light and golden with subtle hints of malt, the slightest dash of hops, and superb drinkability. The Kölsch-style beer is your go-to when you don't quite have the palate for the hard-hitting floral flavors of an IPA but do have too much pride to subject yourself to the verbal beating you would receive after placing an order for something with the word "peach" in the name.

Taste of Tops
Lauren Cusimano
Is anyone really surprised that a beer-and-wine bar attached to one of the biggest indie liquor stores in town is going to have its coolers stocked with anything but the best? If you can't find something you like on one of the 20 tap handles, mosey over to the coolers, where you will find a selection of ciders, IPAs, double bocks, coffee stouts, and even a Flemish sour. One thing you won't find at Taste of Tops is anything made by the "big three." But if you ask real nicely, one of the friendly bartenders might go next door to Tops and grab you one — but not until he's attempted to talk you into something a little more challenging.
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
Kazimierz World Wine Bar is a lot like an old-time speakeasy, except instead of making booze in bathtubs, they serve wine in bottles. (It's more sanitary that way.) What they're doing isn't illegal, but it's kind of fun to pretend it is, and clearly the owners agree. A single, nondescript door in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale leads down candlelit stairs to reveal a full wine bar, packed with comfortable plush furnishings and a wine list that's 2,000 labels strong. The bar serves a wide array of Scottsdale crowds: It's not uncommon to see the occasional wine snob purchase a $2,600 bottle of '75 Chateau d'Yquem semillon blend or an Old Town 30K millionaire choosing to opt for the $12 bottle of '05 Kouros rhoditis. Not the wine type? Trust your palate to one of the bar's real sommeliers. You'll learn to appreciate those woodsy aromas in no time.
Fuego Bistro
Everyone needs his or her daily dose of fruit, and if that fruit just happens to be liquor-soaked, who are we to complain? Fuego Bistro understands this frame of mind and serves up bold, red sangria spiked with all sorts of fruit. It is full-bodied, lightly sweetened, and strong enough that you'll be more than happy with just a glass. We recommend you swing by for happy hour for a real deal, because the only thing better than discounted appetizers like empanadas, street tacos, and chiles rellenos is a discounted glass of made-from-scratch sangria to wash it all down. Is it quitting time yet?
La Grande Orange Grocery
Courtesy of La Grande Orange
La Grande Orange, or LGO for those in the know, is a classy Arcadia pizzeria, bistro, and market that pays homage to the orange orchards of Arizona's history. (After all, citrus is one of the five Cs every native learns growing up in Arizona, along with copper, cattle, cotton, and climate.) It only makes sense that LGO makes use of this lovely citrus to create a crisp, clean, and fruity white sangria. Order it by the pitcher or by the glass, and let the aromatics of this fruit-spiked summery quaff wash over you. You can almost smell the orange blossoms.
The Vig Uptown
You can drink a bloody Mary any time of the day, but the optimum time is mid-morning, just after you've somehow managed to get out of bed, hangover headache pounding, and showed up a few minutes late to that brunch date you poorly scheduled the day before. "Hair of the dog" doesn't sound appetizing, but in the hands of the Vig Uptown's capable bartenders, the morning-after elixir is something special. Garnished with lemon, lime, olives, and liberally peppered, the Vig's take on the classic a.m. drink hits like a punch to the face — a delicious, spicy, invigorating punch in the face. We suppose you don't have to be in the throes of last night's indiscretions to enjoy one of these babies, but it certainly helps.
Durant's
Durant's is a Phoenix institution synonymous with old-school charm, from the "humble kitchen" to the low-lit bar that transports you to yesteryear. In honor of the vintage Rat Pack environment, we recommend you indulge in a cocktail that defined that era: the martini. Leave the appletinis and cosmos for girls' night out, because, at Durant's, you should be sipping a cocktail that will put a fire in your belly and/or hair on your chest. We're talking straight gin or vodka (we'll leave that debate for another day) swirled with vermouth and accented by olives. If you're lucky, you may even get to sip your martini to Sinatra crooning in the background.
FEZ
Nobody really likes vermouth. It's just a necessary evil that allows you to justify drinking a double shot of gin in martini form. FEZ understands this and offers the "Straight Up" martini — so strong that it will curl your toes. But what this chic eatery is really known for is ignoring the classic martini rules in favor of fruity and fanciful (but by no means less potent) fusions. Take the Feztini, for example, with raspberry vodka, Chambord, a champagne float, and a sugary rim that will have you feeling bubbly in no time. There are more than a dozen martinis on the menu, but we like the Apri-cosmo with a hint of apricot, the Mojo-tini that pays homage to the mojito, and the Key Lime Pie martini that totally eliminates the need for dessert. We'll take Chambord over vermouth any day.
MercBar
MercBar
We have seen quite a few so-called lounges pop up recently, but none of them have the authenticity of Merc Bar. Dress to impress and be prepared to drop a pretty penny at this Phoenix installation. The timeless dim lighting, low-set seating, and dark wood surroundings set the stage for a proper evening of libations and eye candy. Lurk in the dark nooks of the swanky lounge and sip your Manhattan while you take in the scenery, or snag a coveted seat at the bar and chat up the friendly (and attractive) bartenders. Don't pass up your chance to try one of the new bar chef's creations (the stuffed peppadew peppers practically melt in your mouth) and keep your eyes peeled; the Merc is known to cater to the celebrity clientele at the nearby Ritz-Carlton.

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