When it comes to sweet, Cherry Bomb's the sugar rush of Phoenix rock 'n' roll. A self-described "rebel child," Cherry Bomb defied her suburban Scottsdale upbringing by playing drums, joining local girl-band rockers The Green Lady Killers, and moving to Central Phoenix as fast as her black leather mini-skirt would allow. With bright red lipstick, bobbed hair, and legs up to the rafters, Cherry Bomb has caught the eye of fellow rockers and fans alike, from her early days hanging out at the now-defunct Emerald Lounge and Rogue East to current rock residences like Rogue West, the Rhythm Room, and Hollywood Alley.
"There's great music in the Valley," Cherry says, "but a lack of unity between the bands and the scenes. Now that the Emerald Lounge, Ruby Room, and Modified Arts are gone, we need to start something new downtown — do more all-ages shows."
Whether she's having a cold one at the Bikini Lounge or checking out studs (the clothing kind) at Buffalo Exchange, Cherry Bomb's rockin' in Phoenix for now, but she dreams of heading to L.A. or San Francisco to drum delicious for saccharine-starved fans. — Laura Hahnefeld
Check out Cherry Bomb at myspace.com/honeylopez69
The Turf Restaurant & Pub
Not a paint-by-numbers Irish pub, The Turf's rich, dark interior offers a contemporary setting for contemplating which of its broad selection of Irish whiskeys, 12 Imperial pints, or second-largest assortment of premium single-malt and blended scotch in Arizona (one fewer than its elder sister pub, Seamus McCaffrey's) to loosen up with. Within walking distance of the light rail and downtown ASU campus, suits and scenesters alike can enjoy happy hour specials including half-off appetizers and $4 20-ounce pints, then stick around, on special evenings, for open mic comedy or guitar-picking ditties. Sláinte!
705 N. 1st St., 602-296-5043, theturfpub.com
Pizzeria Bianco knows its pizzas are good. So good, in fact, that customers are willing to wait an average of an hour and half to get one. So, Bianco has conveniently instituted Bar Bianco as its next-door neighbor, with a cozy atmosphere that makes waiting for pizza a pleasant experience. Tour the historic home interior with a glass of wine or specialized brew, or start the noshing early with a tasty appetizer. But watch out for summertime sipping — the place gets as hot as the pizza oven next door.
609 E. Adams St., 602-528-3699, pizzeriabianco.com
Since opening in December 2009, Rips is quickly proving itself to be the little neighborhood bar that could. Within its snug interior, capped by a ski-lodge-type roof, Rips offers the community-building comforts of foosball, a vintage cigarette machine, and free baskets of popcorn to accompany its $3 well, $5 call, and $2 High Life drink specials. Originally a 1950s hotspot hosting the likes of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Rips is keeping its music history alive by hosting live rock and country shows three days a week, plus the Obscura dance party every second Saturday.
3045 N. 16th St., 602-266-0015
Screw the recession. Chopper John's co-owner John McCormack says 2010 is shaping up to be the bar's best year yet. Since McCormack took over the bar in early 2008, painted the exterior black, and renamed it for his love of motorcycles, Chopper John's features a decidedly un-bike-culture patio in the back (ironworks over the entryway read "welcome" atop an acoustic guitar), Sunday jam sessions, and an eclectic mix of local music Friday and Saturday nights. Along with the usual pool tables, dart machines, and touch-screen video games, Chopper John's is a biker bar with a hipster sidecar.
2547 E. Indian School Rd., 602-955-0881
Far from the leather bars, rainbow-flagged saunas, and diva-filled discotheques elsewhere, Bar 1 is casual gay nightlife that still knows how to have fun. Its easygoing, candlelit, and ridiculously immaculate atmosphere allows patrons to talk in their (gasp!) indoor voices whether relaxing by the fireplace, playing pinball, or unwinding on the outdoor patio. Fun-loving freaks can check their pants with one of the friendly barkeeps on Wednesday night for $1-off drinks and $6 pitchers of Long Island iced tea, or lose their shirts on Sunday for $1.25 drafts. Specials for the clad also are available.
3702 N. 16th St., 602-266-9001, bar1bar.com
Whether they're classic, fruity, or just plain dirty, Amsterdam's martinis — 10 menu pages of them — are made to please. Sip one alongside the here-to-be-seen crowd, mingling and bouncing to techno beats within a sultry Greco-Roman interior, or on one of the swanky outdoor patios, where smoking divas sit back and survey the scene from overstuffed leather couches. On Mondays, a $5 bill will get you a cocktail, manicure, or tarot card reading. And if you're planning to visit on First Friday, bring your Dolce & Gabbana crowbar, because the place is packed.
718 N. Central Ave., 602-258-6122, amsterdambar.com
Char's has the Blues
Cool, authentic, and unpretentious aren't words you hear together very often, but in the case of Char's, truer ones were never spoken. With barely a cover charge, the nightly sounds of live Motown, funk, soul, and R&B can be heard through a maze of dimly lit, cologne-filled rooms, entering the ears of all-walks-of-life hepcats who respond by packing the small dance floor or sitting in the scattered booths and tables, raising a glass to local greats like Lady J and Kenny Brown, while the nicest staff in town readies another round of good times.
4631 N. 7th Ave., 602-230-0205, charshastheblues.com
ROOSEVELT DISTRICTBikini Lounge
1502 Grand Ave.
The Lost Leaf
914 N. 5th St.
901 N. 4th St.
The Roosevelt Tavern
816 N. 3rd St.
GAY & LESBIAN
727 W. Camelback Rd.
1028 E. Indian School Rd.
3110 N. Central Ave.
1560 E. Osborn Rd.
4301 N. 7th Ave.
UPSCALE & NIGHTCLUBS
3121 N. 3rd Ave.602-229-1265
122 E. Washington St.
Silver Martini & Wine Bar
136 E. Washington St.602-253-8300
132 E. Washington St.602-253-8300
Coach & Willie's
412 S. 3rd St.602-254-5272
Majerle's Sports Grill
24 N. 2nd St.
Rose & Crown
628 E. Adams St.
Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub
906 E. Camelback Rd.