Best Seasonal Beer 2014 | Four Peaks' Pumpkin Porter | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix
New Times Archives

Late summer, Four Peaks employees hear the same question from local beer lovers: "When can I get my hands on a pint of that pumpkin beer?" It might be because this brew's arrival is synonymous with the end of a long, hard heatwave. But there's definitely more to it than that. After all, there's a reason the pumpkin taps (and now even cans) run dry earlier and earlier every year, though the brewery makes more and more every year. The dark, coffee-colored beer is like drinking liquid pumpkin pie. Now that you know about its roasted malt, baking spice, and, of course, pumpkin flavors, make sure to get your stash of this autumn mainstay before it's gone. Because it will be gone. Soon.

Heather Hoch

It's funny how one brewery can come into the craft beer scene in Phoenix and completely blow it up. Sure, there was plenty of great local beer in town before Arizona Wilderness Brewing, but in just about a year, it's already been named best new brewery in the world by beer geeks in the know and has put our fair state on the map in ways it hadn't been before. Maybe it's the focus on using as much local grain as possible. Maybe it's the unique ingredient list, from cacao nibs to spruce tips. But once you get your first sip, you know it's something new. The almost daily changing list of experimental microbrews has us coming back for more and, with its being a Kickstarter-funded endeavor, we're just glad these artful brewers got the opportunity to open in the first place.

Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar

You've probably heard about this Scottsdale spot and wondered about how to spell — let alone pronounce — the complicated name. And even if you've never stepped foot inside, chances are you've walked by it a million times without ever knowing it. The unmarked entrance — which, by the way, predates the new speakeasy trend — leads into a dark, ancient-looking space built to remind patrons of an underground wine cellar. The interior is cool enough to make us want to go back, but it's the extensive wine list that really does the trick. To call Kaz Bar's menu a "list" isn't really fair. It's really a veritable book, with more than 3,200 wine selections if you're going for a whole bottle. The by-the-glass options are far less numerous but still give you plenty of choices in different styles from around the world.

You might go to Crescent for the concerts, considering that the Phoenix venue usually gets some of the best local and national acts around. You might go there for the beloved bean and cheese burritos wrapped in La Sonorense tortillas or for $2 tacos on Wednesday during lunch. Whatever the reason, you might want to consider setting down that can of Hamm's or PBR and ordering a glass of house sangria instead. The flavorful blend of red wine, liqueurs, San Pellegrino Aranciata soda, and citrus juice is a great base, but the real secret to this refreshing, fruity drink is the healthy dose of cinnamon added to each batch. Garnished with a cherry and an orange slice and sold for just $5 for a pint, the worst thing about Crescent's sangria is you won't be able to stop at one.

Timur Guseynov

When we wake up hungover, our go-to remedy is the classic hair of the dog, usually in the form of a tall and extra spicy Bloody Mary. For this treatment, our favorite spot is RnR in Scottsdale. Sunday Funday at this hopping bar and restaurant means bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. And we're not just talking about a glass of tomato juice with a touch of vodka. This place does it right. It pours never-ending glasses of perfectly made Bloody Marys made with tomato juice, spices, vodka, and bacon. That's right. Bacon. You can imagine how popular such a morning-after beverage might be with the party-loving Old Town Scottsdale crowd, so if you want to avoid a long wait, best to get there early.

Tirion Morris

We love a good story with our cocktail, and the sea-salt-infused Negroni at Citizen R+D has an interesting one, for sure. You see, when booze was being shipped in the olden days (across the sea, that is), the story is that the transported liquor usually would get soaked in ocean water in the hull en route, thus changing the flavor. At Citizen, the concept is simulated and here's how: First, the mixologists combine the necessary Negroni components — gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari — in a barrel. Then, they take that barrel and dunk it in a saltwater solution before letting the barrel dry. After repeating the curing process several times until the cocktail has reached both an optimum smoothness from the barrel and light funkiness from the salt, it's ready to serve. Just like sailors used to drink, right?

Just about everybody likes a Pimm's Cup. That's because the gin liqueur-based drink is light and fresh with either lemonade or ginger beer, citrus slices, and cucumber. During brunch at Windsor, you can get all that cocktail goodness super-sized to pitcher quantity for just $5 — pretty much the most outrageously good deal on cocktails in town. Garnished with fresh mint, the drink is totally refreshing. Unfortunately, it's only on the menu weekends from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., but you can't really expect a deal that good to be available all the time. Plus, Pimm's Cup is a great brunch drink, and a whole pitcher of it means there's maybe even enough to share with your brunch companions.

If you think moonshine is a drink for hillbillies and country bumpkins, we've got three words for you: apple pie moonshine. Specifically, the apple pie moonshine at Bootleggers will forever change your mind about the un-aged distilled corn liquor. First, just think of it as bourbon without the barrel. Then, get a dirt-cheap $5 housemade apple pie moonshine, which, not surprisingly, tastes like apples and cinnamon. More surprisingly, the concoction has a warmth and smoothness to it that makes it as dangerous as it is delicious. If you're feeling noncommittal, you can opt for a moonshine flight and taste the housemade apple pie variety alongside other varieties that incorporate peach, blueberry, blackberry, and other fruity flavors.

This ain't your grandpa's whiskey bar. Well, actually, this is probably exactly the kind of spot your grandfather would've hung out in (and probably still does hang out in). But there's room for you, too. The North Phoenix bar is unmistakably a cigar bar first, based on aroma alone. However, even if you aren't a smoker, the ventilation system makes it so there's only a cigar aroma without the giant cloud of smoke. Plus, the whiskey list, which reads like a book and is set up on shelves like a library, is killer. With whiskey and cigar pairings courtesy of Jason Asher, this spot really is about the spirits and stogies. Even the cocktails are mostly whiskey-based, with Sazerac, Old Fashioned, and even a peaty Laphroaig cocktail on the menu for $12 to $15.

Lauren Saria

Second Story Liquor Bar might be a new spot on the Scottsdale dining scene, but bartender John Christie has been around. Originally a Bostonian, Christie made an indelible imprint on Valley cocktail bars during his time at the now-defunct Old Town Whiskey. Back in action behind the stick, he still loves his whiskey, even teaching whiskey classes at the bar from time to time. However, his menu, which features the granddaddy of the modern cocktail, the Philadelphia Fish House Punch, is more than just great Old Fashioneds. Bubbly types should go for the French 75. If you're feeling a little worse for the wear, maybe a Corpse Reviver is in order. Even gin lovers have something to look forward to with the Gin Fizz. Anyway, you get the point — Christie does classics right at his Mad Men-era-inspired bar in Scottsdale.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of