Best of Phoenix

Best of Phoenix: Partying Hard on Mill Avenue

Best of Phoenix: Partying Hard on Mill Avenue
Jacob Tyler Dunn/Peter Speyer

It’s Friday, and you need to put the week (and especially the memory of that lousy Psych 101 exam score) behind you. Mill Avenue beckons.

Will you start on the patio at The Handlebar? You will, because you’re trying to be pandemic-conscious but also because you like to start slow, with a couple of cold brews, and the Handlebar beer menu is impressive. The sausage sandwich at the next table looks tasty, but it’s too early in the evening for food. Maybe at the next stop.

But then your next stop turns out to be Varsity Tavern across the street, where you run into a group of frat boys and decide to hang. The pale ale is flowing, and the company isn’t completely odious, at least until your ex turns up and you dash for the exit.

Next door at the Mill Cue Club, you’re sure a round of billiards will take your mind off your failed romance, and after your third Manhattan and what you think might be your seventh game of One Pocket, you head for the door, weaving through a sea of pool tables and wondering how many there could possibly be in this joint.

Some chow will soak up all that rye and vermouth, so you head into Zipps Sports Grill for a plate of wings at the bar. The bartender is being cute with you, so you let her talk you into a Zipparita, a sort of tequila smoothie that isn’t half bad. It’s not doing much for the hangover you’re working up to, though, so after a trip to the john you’re back out on Mill Avenue and thinking about heading home when someone — Gah! What’s that guy’s name? — calls to you from the patio at Pedal Haus

You hop the outdoor railing and settle in for a sidecar and a pretzel while What’s-His-Name (Dale? Don? Something with a D...) bends your ear about how he’s meeting some buds at Yucca Tap Room, just down the road at Mill and Southern avenues.

You figure you can do worse than a dive bar and a little live music to end the evening, so you agree to join him. It’s standing-room-only at Yucca, and you’re back to beer because your old friend (Danny?) orders you a Sam Adams without asking what you want. Whatever his name is, he remembers your favorite beer.

When your old pal isn’t looking, you sneak out the door and back up the street toward home. The word “nightcap” occurs to you, and you head into Low Key Piano Bar where you plan to wrap up the evening with a hot toddy and a little quiet ivory-tinkling. But there’s a party going on, and after joining a group of tank-topped pre-med students and sucking down a trio of Jell-O Syringes, you don’t remember much else. Except for that guy’s name, which comes to you during a loud, rowdy, two-piano tribute to “Proud Mary.” 

Dave. His name was Dave.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela