Best Beer | for Liquor Lovers 2011 | Sonoran 200 | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
You've probably seen the boxy, clear-glass bottles of Sonoran 200 sitting on the shelves of your local place's beer section before, and maybe you even thought about buying one. Then you saw the price tag. "$25 for a beer?" you thought. "Preposterous!" Which it may well be — for a beer. But Sonoran 200 — made with pure agave nectar and aged on oak for six months — is 40-proof and tastes like butterscotch tequila maple donuts. What it does not taste like is beer. Pour it into a snifter, drop in an ice cube or two and sip, cordially.
We'll say it: Phoenix has beer culture on tap. While there is no shortage of places to buy brew, one place has a selection that can't be beat: Whole Foods in Chandler. Whether you're looking for a Session six-pack or a 750-milliliter bottle of Dogfish Head Sah'tea, you'll find it fresh and reasonably chilled for instant imbibing. And if you like a nosh with your beer, you could do a lot worse than grabbing a BBQ sandwich or some sushi from Whole Foods. One wonders why you would ever need to leave.
Like a beacon in the night, Jerry's vintage sign lures us time and time again. Let's face it — when you're on a beer run, getting out of the car is a pain. You don't want to waste precious party moments. So next time you're in a hurry to get back to the action, or you just don't feel like getting out of your PJs, look for the giant arrow pointing you toward that thirst-quenching 12-pack of Coors or that sweet bottle of Boone's Farm you've been craving.
If you need to pick up some spirits, snacks, or sleek glass pipes perfect for smoking tobacco, but are pressed for time, swing through the drive-thru at Mike's Market in south Peoria. Clerks are friendly and happy to grab whatever you might need, whether it's a Playboy magazine, a case of beer, or a pint of Jägermeister.
Need to grab your smokes quick and it is too hot (or you're too embarrassed) to get out of the car? Check out On-Auk-Mor Indian Smoke Shop, which has a convenient drive-thru. On-Auk-Mor even sells super-rare brands, all for cheaper than you can buy anywhere else. And, as a bonus, it is located on the rez, so your purchase is tax-free. The service is pleasant and friendly, and if the kids are in the backseat, a clerk will hand over your smokes with a couple of lollipops for the youngsters. Really.
Tinder Box may be a chain, but there's a bit of local charm in the Mesa location that makes it feel as though Mom and Pop have been running the place forever. Local franchisee Jeff Clayton goes out of his way to make patrons feel welcome. The couches and chairs are big and comfy, there's tons of table space in the cigar lounge (the shop's a little more than 600 square feet, total), and there's a big-screen television airing numerous satellite channels. And chances are, Tinder Box has whatever type of pipe, tobacco, or cigar brand you're looking for. Tinder Box carries everything from popular stogie brands like Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta to high-end hookahs by Savinelli and La Rocca. And if you don't know what you're looking for, Clayton and company will gladly make suggestions and let you smell all their loose-leaf tobacco. Best of all, you don't need to go outside to smoke that stogie — this is a place that prides itself on the smell of fine-burning blends.
Since 1989, Headquarters has been supplying tobacco water pipe enthusiasts with the biggest and best equipment to support their, um, hobby. We were sorry to hear about the demise of Headquarters' longtime neighbor Eastside Records but happy when we heard that our favorite head shop would be taking over the space. The newly expanded store now houses a huge selection of pipes, bongs, and other smoking accessories, including a gorgeous supply of locally made goods, thanks to owner Ted Kaercher's dedicated support of local artisans. The friendly staff is enthusiastic about the goods and more than happy to answer any questions or help you decide whether you really need that four-footer when a pack of rolling papers will do.
The original Herb N' Legend location (at 5950 West McDowell Road) is cool enough, but with the opening of a second location on Greenway Parkway this year, Herb N' Legend went all out. They hired renowned Valley muralist Lalo Cota to paint a noir-ish cityscape mural that wraps around the interior walls of the store; they built a walk-in humidor for cigars that resembles a 1920s speakeasy; they installed a massive tiled mosaic water fountain in the corner (complete with throwaway tiles from U.S. Senator John McCain's guest house, we hear); and they beefed up their inventory to include the most extensive collection of pipes, bongs, vaporizers, hookahs, and other accessories in the city. They even have a separate gallery/showroom for their most expensive, intricate blown-glass pieces (including a colorful octopus bong). Smokers and stoners could go anywhere for their paraphernalia, but those with discerning tastes and an appreciation for glass pipes as art go to Herb N Legend.
Courtesy of The Farm
Tucked into a corner of The Farm at South Mountain sits the culmination of 37 years' worth of desert plant passion. Steve Martinez opened Succulentia on December 1, 2010. The greenhouse is stuffed with rare and hard-to-find cacti and succulents from Tucson, California, and Texas. Waxy leaf clusters, bonsai-esque plants, and spindly, spiny trees (ranging from $8 to over $1,000) line the tables in no particular order. Also on display is his own personal collection of award-winning plants. "You won't find these at Home Depot," says Martinez. Indeed.
As you drive through Arcadia, you can't help wondering how many trees and plants of the posh neighborhood started on the grounds of Baker Nursery. Established in 1968, the retro nursery keeps things tip-top with organized rows of lush vegetation just begging for a permanent home in your yard. Love and dedication is put into every flower, vine, and shrub by the knowledgeable staff. One trip to Baker's and you will never want to go back to the big-name home-and-garden center for your foliage needs again.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of