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

Arizona Distilling Co.
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.

Top's Liquor

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.

Phoenix Relief Center Inc.

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!

Harvest of Tempe

Bravo to Blue Dream! Time and time again, this strain proves that it is a perfectly blended hybrid that is good for just about anyone, anytime. These buds vary from medium to light in color, tend to have a lot of orange hairs, and are abundant with frosty tricomes. The smell and taste are inherited from its Blueberry daddy, giving Blue Dream almost a baked-goods fragrance with berry undertones. Lower dosages create a light, daytime-friendly effect typical of the sativa side of this hybrid, while higher dosages bring out the indica traits for relaxing and winding down at night.

For patients who want the best of both worlds of head and body high while keeping only one strain on hand, Blue Dream is the weapon of choice.

Metro Meds
horizonthc.com

Durban Poison is a strain that wake-and-bakers may rejoice in. The buds of this plant are dense and a beautiful light green with a few orange hairs, all of which is coated with a nice, frosty sheen. The aroma is spicy, with only a slightly skunky tinge. This pure sativa exhibits traits true to its type and offers an uplifting experience that actually aids most patients who want to remain productive, creative, and energetic while still relieving their pain or anxiety. These qualities make Durban Poison great for social situations, especially since it keeps the patient energized and far more clearheaded than most other strains, allowing for more focus and little to no fatigue. The overall potency is strong enough to make a little go a long way.

Best Customer Perks at a Medical Marijuana Dispensary

AZ Natural Selections

On the quest to get the best new-patient perks in the Valley, AZ Natural Selections has taken the lead. Not only does it have a new patient special that rocks (as of this writing, five free pre-rolls that weigh just shy of a gram each with purchase of an eighth), but it also hooks up new patients with a rolling tray, an herb grinder card, enrollment into a loyalty program, and a sweet, discreet carrying tube for meds and a few other surprises to help even the most novice patient get rolling with MMJ. AZ Natural Selections tends to have a good selection of herbs displayed with information to help patients of all experience levels make an informed decision for any purchase. Plus, it gives you an excuse to spend an afternoon in Cave Creek.

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