American Junkie

The art of seduction is a tricky one to master, which is probably why there've been enough books written about picking up the opposite sex to fill an entire library. One thing is certain: It helps to have the odds stacked in your favor, which is why we recommend marshaling the wingmen and testing out your game at American Junkie. There's a distinct libidinous atmosphere to the place, which is where dudes and dames in the 'Dale go to get down and hook up. Everyone's inhibitions seem to get checked at the door, fleeting glances and flirtatious behavior are the norm, and the bartenders constantly cajole girls to spin the wheel of booze for free shots. The small dance floor offers the excuse to get close to that certain someone and conduct a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. And if you do get lucky, there are fleets of cabs waiting outside for a quick getaway to either your place or theirs. A few even offer free rides back to your car the next day, which should make the dreaded morning escape a bit easier.

Smashboxx

Ever wonder why your head is filled with fuzzy recollections on the morning after a big-time bender? To paraphrase Jamie Foxx, you can blame it on the alcohol. See, the neurons populating the hippocampus region of your brain — specifically, the ones responsible for memory formation — don't take kindly to last night's orgy of alcohol. (They don't call 'em "mind erasers" for nothing, yo.) Good thing the folks over at Smashboxx offer the opportunity to remember what sort of intoxicated (and potentially embarrassing) antics you engaged in during the previous evening. Tucked away in the corner of the Scottsdale danceteria is the closet-size HotBoxx video booth, which allows patrons to record all manner of memorably bad drunken high jinks. The club's proprietors post monthly compilations of the best (and worst) of the HotBoxx, on both YouTube and its website, which is filled with human trainwrecks, off-key singing, sloppy makeout sessions, and a variety of naughty bits being exposed. Smashboxx even offers prizes for the most memorable videos, which might help soothe the sting of embarrassment from watching yourself acting the fool on the Internet.

It's apropos that this Scottsdale hot spot resides in a former fire station, considering the fact that four-alarm fiestas happen in the joint practically every single evening it's open for business. Its interior typically contains a throng of stylishly dressed revelers who flock here during Old Town's peak partying hours, from 11 p.m. onward on weekend nights. Things get even more packed, however, after last call, as the Firehouse is a popular after-hours destination for the nightlife crowd that migrates here after other clubs have locked their doors. And even though the bartenders have to cease serving firewater at 2 a.m., there's still plenty to do besides tying one on. Patrons eager to stay up late can play games of giant Jenga and cornhole, engage in people-watching and flirtatious behavior, and get bodies rocking to killer dance tracks laid down by some of the best DJs in the local club scene (including the ultra-talented Death to the Throne and house music guru Jon Amaral) until 4 a.m. Screw the Sandman; there's dancing and debauchery to be had.

Although he's way too cool to ever sport an elf hat, photographer Quincy Ross is pretty much the Peter Pan of the downtown Phoenix art scene. It's partially because the enigmatic artist and bon vivant seems perpetually young at heart despite pushing 40. Mostly, though, it's because of his habit of leading local hipsters, creative types, and party fiends on jaunts into a nighttime Neverland via his arty after-hours parties. Every six weeks or so, Ross will announce on either Facebook or Twitter that he and his "Q-Squad" will be staging a clandestine craic at an unspecified venue sometime in the next 48 hours. Though details often are scant — usually requiring sending a text to Ross to get a password and other pertinent info — and admission is selective, one thing is certain: It's going to be an affair to remember, likely involving imbibing and all manner of immoral behavior lasting into the next day. Last New Year's Eve, for example, they took over the top two floors of the now-defunct Lexington Hotel and partied hard for more than 24 hours straight. No joke. It was a fete and feat that isn't likely to be topped anytime soon.

Best Way to Get Everything from Pizza to Condoms to Toilet Paper Delivered to Your Doorstep in the Middle of the Night

Nighttime Nosh

So you made it home from the clubs (we won’t ask how) and you’re safe in your living room — but you’re starving. Or thirsty. Out of cigarettes, low on toilet paper and in desperate need of a condom. And it’s 2 a.m. No worries — that’s why God invented Nighttime Nosh. Described by its owners as a “convenience store on wheels,” this brand-new business will roll up with just about whatever you need, almost any time of the night. It’ll cost you, but, hey, what wouldn’t you pay for Pop-Tarts or Twizzlers during your darkest hour? Nighttime Nosh is serving only Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, and Mesa (its epicenter, understandly, is ASU’s Tempe campus) but if business is good, maybe they’ll expand. Just don’t try phoning ’em for frozen White Castles on a Monday or Tuesday. They’re closed. Wednesday and Thursday they deliver ’til 3 a.m., and ’til 4 Friday through Sunday.

Scottsdale restaurateur Pavle Milic is on a mission to make Arizona wine. He's teamed up with Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas Winery to collaborate on a special blend of tempranillo, primitivo, and syrah grapes. He invited us down to Elgin for the first harvest of 2012. At 4 a.m. So don't take that bottle of wine for granted, people, because Milic, Bostock, and a handful of others were, indeed, up before the crack of dawn to pick these grapes. Not only that, they tested the acid and sugar levels of each grape variety, separated the grapes, and loaded them into the press to start the fermentation process. And that's just the beginning. Milic's wine will be ready in the fall of 2013. He's been documenting the process for New Times' food blog, Chow Bella (www.phxfood.com) and you can catch our conversation with him at www.phoenixnewtimes.com/bestof2012

Don't get us wrong; we applaud anyone who knows how to play a mean guitar. But we must say, we're even more impressed by someone who knows how to build one. Chances are good that if they do, they learned it at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Since 1975, Roberto Venn has been attracting students of all makes and models: high school graduates, aspiring musicians, retired guitar enthusiasts, and even those who already know a thing or two about being a luthier. They come from all over the globe to commit to an intensive 10-hour-a-day, five-day-a-week, five-month semester of certified higher learning in the art of luthiery.

Graduates of the Roberto-Venn School go on to develop their own guitar brands or are scoped out by big-name companies like Fender and Gibson. Classes are capped at 40 students and often require waitlists in both the spring and the fall sessions. So if you're ready to quit that desk job and pursue your musical dream, you'd better sign up fast. See a slideshow here.
Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

Smart, sassy, super-cute, and a master of her cocktail craft, Shel Bourdon is the gal behind the outstanding cocktail menu at CityScape's Blue Hound Kitchen at the Palomar Hotel. The 24-year-old mixologist and lead bartender created the restaurant's entire menu of handcrafted cocktails that are classic, down-to-earth, and, most important, drinkable. The California transplant's creations are the perfect complement to executive chef Stephen Jones' exquisite comfort food, and Shel or one of her well trained bartenders are always happy to give you cocktail pairing suggestions. Try one of Shel's beer cocktails like the Screaming Scot with grouse blended scotch, honey syrup, lemon, egg white, espresso, and wheat ale or a hangover pick-me-up like the refreshing Absinthe Fizz with Beefeater gin, Pernod absinthe, lime, honey, and cucumber. Straightforward and classy — just like Bourdon.

Husband-and-wife team Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys are more than just cocktail enthusiasts — they are straight-up cocktail scientists. The pair has been making their own infused bitters for the past couple of years in their Gilbert kitchen, experimenting with flavors ranging from a bright herb orange in the Orange Sunshine to the warm and sweet Figgy Pudding. Using as many locally sourced and indigenous ingredients as possible, the Buitenhuyses make extremely small batches of their cocktail highlighters in mason jars that sit for about a month. Fruit, bittering agents, simple syrups, booze, and spices all mingle together to create the end result. The couple received the green light from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to market their bitters as a food product, so their products should be hitting the local shelves sometime in mid-November. Until then, be on the lookout for the little eyedroppers of bitters behind the bars of several restaurants around town. (We could tell you who's using Bill and Lillian's liquid gold, but then we'd have to kill you.)

All anyone could talk about after this year's Coachella Festival of Music and Arts was Tupac, an artist 16 years in the grave (despite all that buzzy clatter you hear to the contrary). Pac was resurrected by AV Concepts, an audio-visual company based in Tempe and San Diego. They utilized a Musion Eyeliner screen and a 30-by-13-foot project screen to create a 3D, true-to-lifesize projection of Pac in the midst of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's set. It was a stunning, freakishly life-like performance, and while it went down in the history books as one of the most surprising moments in Coachella history (well, the first weekend anyway), it immediately set off rumors of copycat holograms, like Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes with TLC and Freddie Mercury with Queen. AV Concepts, you've worked up some strange feelings for us all (could a Beatles reunion be far behind?), but the trick was a stunning one, indeed.

Best Of Phoenix®

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