Best Farmers Market 2014 | Old Town Farmers Market | Shopping & Services | Phoenix

Though we're happy to see farmers markets popping up in just about every Valley neighborhood, we have to admit our favorite Saturday morning stop is still the Old Town Farmers Market. Because as much as we want to eat local and healthy, we don't have the time — or energy — to make a dozen stops to get the shopping done. The variety of vendors at the Old Town Farmers Market makes this a one-stop shop for market-goers with everything from organic produce to grass-fed beef and local honey. And in most cases, you'll have your choice between several vendors in each category. It's true that things slow down during summer, but at least we can still get in and get the basics before the heat really hits. The fact that the market is dog-friendly is a big plus, because we feel guilty about taking our time when we leave our four-legged baby home alone.

Heather Hoch

When it comes to cocktail classes in Phoenix, Jade Bar has something for everybody. With a weekly rotating course focusing on gin, whiskey, rum, Prohibition-era cocktails, Tiki cocktails, and more, you certainly can pick your poison. Thirty dollars gets you about four cocktails per class, plus a wealth of information ranging from preparation to history. With small class sizes of 10 people, you get plenty of time for individual instruction and Q&A. Given that it's one of the bars that launched the careers of many of the Valley's top bartenders, you're sure to get an education worthy of any pro. Be warned, though, you may want to consider a room at Sanctuary after the class because those cocktails can knock you on your bum.

For the mornings when aspirin seems asinine and drip coffee just doesn't do the trick, hangover sufferers of Old Town Scottsdale don their sunglasses and head directly to The Drip Room. This Valley vitamin bar brings its customers everything from B12 to botox, flavored oxygen to fillers. Although The Drip delivers IVs for every need, including weight loss, detox, energy, anti-inflammation, and anti-aging, the antidote for alcohol-fueled benders is the Party Drip. This intravenous innovation replenishes the burnt-out party animal with hydrating fluids, vitamins, and wonder drugs to combat the nausea and bloating that prevent you from pushing your luck a second night in a row.

Jackie Mercandetti
Wedge & Bottle features a rotating selection of top-notch meats and cheese on plates, in sandwiches, or to go.

So Wedge and Bottle might not have the largest wine selection in the Valley. It also might lack the insanely low Trader Joe's prices you're used to from your wine-buying experience. However, what this Ahwatukee wine, cheese, beer, and more store does have is a knowledgeable, friendly staff who knows a thing or two about pairing wine and cheese and isn't afraid to sell you on it. Wedge and Bottle also sells gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, which go shockingly well with a glass of wine. If you're ready to make a commitment to wine and cheese but not ready to make a decision, you also can opt to join Wedge and Bottle's wine and cheese pairing of the month club. A three-month subscription can be bought in the store or online for $165.

Evie Carpenter

It's been a wild year or so for Arizona craft liquor lovers, with the first tastes of locally made bourbon, gin, rye, and Durum wheat whiskey coming from Tempe's Arizona Distilling Co. Not since before Prohibition has anyone even tasted a Valley-made spirit. Turns out, it's really good — so good that the brand-spankin'-new distillery won high marks in international spirit competitions already. With a heavy infusion of local history, everything from the labels to the ingredients has Arizona ties. Chalk it up to the fact that the distillery crew comprises childhood pals from Tempe, but no matter which way you cut it, local craft liquor is here, and it's a very good thing. In particular, the Desert Durum Wheat whiskey is an impressive creation of all-local grain, distilling, and aging. Could it be Arizona's answer to Kentucky bourbon or East Coast rye? Maybe.

BevMo and Total Wine might be able to best Tops' selection, but when it comes to personalized suggestions from a knowledgeable and friendly staff, those big-box booze chains don't even come close. If you think that's not important, try staring at the library-like selection of local and international craft beer and figuring it all out yourself. For the quantity-over-quality crowd, Tops also usually has smokin' deals on big old boxes of beer. Plus, we don't know how many times we've picked out one bottle of liquor, only for the folks behind the register to replace it with a better and cheaper choice. Now that's just too cool.

Bud's Glass Joint brings a unique, artistic dimension to First Fridays, often hosting live glass-blowing competitions and demonstrations for spectators to enjoy. It features many pieces by local artists and even sells locally made incense, among other things. Bud's modest location has plenty of products on display without becoming an overwhelming, hard-to-shop mess. If it doesn't have what you're after, just tell the proprietors and they are usually willing to track it down for you. The staff is courteous, knowledgeable, and welcoming, plus they really know how to throw a 420 party.

Aunt Effie sets a high bar for "medibles," cramming a potent dose into a tiny cookie about the size of a quarter. Both affordable and accurately dosed, the buttery and nutty flavor of the cannabis cooked into these treats makes them a far cry from the snickerdoodles your grandma used to make.

This twice-monthly farmers market is an oasis for medical marijuana patients seeking just about any form of MMJ, be it a concentrate, extract, salve, or edible of nearly any kind. And it carries more strain varieties of good old-fashioned buds than you can count. This place is a smorgasbord like no other! There are contests with prizes, designated medicating areas, and a kitchen where a patient can order a medicated smoothie to go with a delicious meal — right after receiving a relaxing massage. What's more is that patients can speak directly with the cultivators from whom they are purchasing their meds, which can be far more enlightening than second- or third-hand information.

Keeping up with the newest craze in methods of self-treating with medical marijuana, Encanto Green Cross stocks MMJ concentrates, which it carefully concocts in its in-house marijuana laboratory by marijuana-mad scientists hell-bent on making the best, safest, and most potent concentrates it can — with plenty of variety to choose from. Luckily, the friendly and knowledgeable staff is well suited to educate even the most inexperienced patient on their arsenal of concentrates, such as wax crumble, budder, shatter, bubble hash, and kief. A little dab'll do ya!

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