Huss Brewing Company
Huss Brewing Company

We dare you to find someone who doesn't love Huss Brewing's Scottsdale Blonde. This German-style kölsch somehow manages to satisfy both craft brew aficionados and beer newbies — no easy feat. How does it work its witchy magic on us? It's well-balanced and crisp, light and refreshing. And what's with that delightful, ever-so-slight sweetness on the finish? It's impossible to drink just one glass of the Scottsdale Blonde, which is why we suggest you hit up Huss Brewing's tasting room during happy hour, when you can get a pitcher for the price of a pint. This beer gets bonus points for its availability in cans, making the Blonde poolside-ready.

The Shop Beer Co.
Lauren Cusimano

Figuratively speaking, The Shop Beer Company has come a long way since their previous setup brewing under the same roof as Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe. Physically, however, they moved a minute's drive away into a beautiful little house that feels light, airy, and right at home in the Southwest. What isn't little is their beer selection. What used to be just a handful of beers anchored by their F.Y.I.T.M., a clean IPA with a dirty mouth and a "sneaky" 10.1 percent ABV, is now over a dozen suds long, tapping everything from two darker nitro beers to lighter witbiers and juicy IPAs clocking in at a modest 7.2 percent ABV. These guys have range, legs, and even a cool food truck (Fire & Foraged) that calls their brewery home base. This is a real neighborhood spot worth the drive wherever you live.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Heather Hoch

You'd think that beer fans might've cooled off on Arizona Wilderness by now, a few years after a red-hot start when they were called 2013's best new brewery by RateBeer.com. But beer fans not only love beverage-rating even more than their counterparts in the wine and spirits world — they appear to be loyal, too. Granted, it's easy when a brewery keeps you on your toes like Wilderness does, with their undying commitment to experimentation, all while cycling in the Valley's best grains (durum wheat, organic barley), fruits (citrus, peaches), spices (so many), and even vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets) for their beers — and then often aging them in esoteric barrels (gin, scotch, tequila, French oak). They've also collaborated with the world's best breweries. The operation darts in so many directions that it will make your head spin just looking at their daily offerings — and that's before the first sip. You can't get their beer on tap outside of their own operation quite yet, but they've been steadily upping their canning and bottling, and that's been a huge step for those who may not be able to make a habit out of driving to Gilbert to drink beer.

Arizona Distilling Co.
Evie Carpenter

With a name like Arizona Distilling Co., the team here couldn't just crank out generic whiskeys and vodkas and expect to be embraced by discerning Valley drinkers. So they made a gin that sourced eight botanicals from lush northern Arizona. When they whipped up a whiskey, they started with desert durum wheat that's resting on a few hundred years of Phoenix agricultural history. Cracking open either is the closest thing we have to terroir in the spirit sector of Phoenix's beverage industry. When so many grain spirits taste the same, Arizona Distilling Company has created a unique, award-winning roster.

Counter Intuitive
Counter Intuitive/Facebook

Counter Intuitive is a unicorn: top-shelf bartenders making some of the most thoughtful and technically sound cocktails in town while also seeing that those drinks are actually very fun to imbibe, in an environment that's far from stuffy. Being able to attwract the cocktail snobs, fellow bartenders, clubgoers on their way to cross the street to Old Town's entertainment district, and generally anyone who enjoys a good drink, all at once? That's a breath of fresh air, and with it they pretty much cover the bases — an inclusive and impressive feat that any good bar could learn from. Looking to step up your cocktail game? Consider Counter Intuitive, if you haven't swung through already. It's okay if the rest if your crew wants scotch and soda or whiskey sours — C.I. can do those as well, of course, and they're happy to.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Southern tradition says it’s good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day (it’s thought to bring prosperity in the year to come). It’s one superstition we’re happy to believe in, especially if the black-eyed peas in question come from Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe. A downtown Phoenix mainstay since 1964, Mrs. White’s serves some of the best soul food in town. The black-eyed peas are a side dish offered all year round and come perfectly cooked in a lightly peppery gravy. We like them alongside a serving of the restaurant’s crisp fried chicken or juicy fried pork chops. Mrs. White’s is open on New Year’s Day, so you can get your portion of delicious good luck then, but we like to stop by far more often than once a year.
Barb's Bakery
Diana Martinez
The king cake tradition varies widely according to country and region — in Phoenix, you’ll find most Mexican panaderias selling a version of it, the rosca de reyes, in celebration of the Epiphany, which occurs 12 days after Christmas. And you’ll also find king cakes, the round, Louisiana-style cakes sold in metro Phoenix throughout most of the springtime, as part of the pre-Lenten celebrations that stretch from the Epiphany until Mardi Gras. For years, Barb’s Bakery has been the most reliable option for a round, buttery, Louisiana-style king cake, complete with a small, plastic baby, representing the newborn Jesus, baked right into the cake. The bakery offers two sizes — regular and royale — to feed a fete of any size. They’re made in the traditional round shape, shimmering with confectioner’s sugar and icing, and they’re delicious.

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