Best Champagne Bar 2011 | Narcisse Champagne Lounge | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix
Did you know Phoenix has a champagne bar? Well, you've been missing out if you didn't. These folks have 200 bottles in stock at all times, they offer tastings, and they serve food and have live music a few nights a month. And the sexy servers make the atmosphere a true Scottsdale good time. Oh, and by day, Narcisse is a tea lounge — so there really is something for everyone.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
These days, being Irish is cooler then cool, which is probably why we have seen more than a few so-called Irish pubs pop up around town. But Seamus (pronounced shay-mus) has been keepin' it real for more than 20 years. Like any good Irish pub, the downtown no-frills joint keeps football (soccer) on the TV and a huge selection of scotch and whiskey behind the bar. We can always find a table, but it's best to belly up to the bar and chat with the locals or the friendly staff. You will find the usual suspects on draft, but when you have an imperial pint of Guinness and a neat shot of 30-year Macallan, we're sure you won't have any complaints.
Benjamin Leatherman
It's hard to imagine all the insane things Wesley "Wes" Nieto has seen over the 23 years she's worked at Bikini Lounge, one of downtown's most cherished dives. Naturally, Nieto is one tough lady, never one to mince words, and more than apt to deliver a stinging insult if she finds your drink order less than worthy. But that's all part of her charm — she'll rip you a new one with a smile, then pour you an extra-stiff cocktail to salve the wound. Her two-plus decades at the Bikini dealing with crazies and louts have honed her into the perfect bartending machine, able to crack a joke, kick an ass, or slide a shot down the bar — whatever the moment calls for.
The best way to experience Postino is to hoof it, bike it, or cab it before 5 p.m. any day of the week to this wine bar. Every glass of wine in the house is only five bucks, and if you're anti-vino, Postino serves pitchers of beer for the same price. The servers are well versed in the wine list, so let them know whether you like your chardonnays oaked or your reds strong and fruity, and they will steer you in the right direction. And when in doubt, trust "Brett's Pick" on the wine list. He's never steered us wrong. Add a plank of bruschetta and maybe a salted caramel sundae with chocolate-covered corn nuts, and you're nearing perfection. Don't forget about Sangria Sunday!
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.
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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.

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 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.
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?
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.

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