Bootleggers in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Bootleggers 3375 East Shea Boulevard, Phoenix 602-996-4228 www.bootleggersaz.com

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 until 6 p.m.

The Interior: On the outside, Bootleggers doesn't look like much more than a pit stop in a strip mall off of the 51 and Shea Boulevard. Once inside, you're instantly transported to the dimly lit speakeasies of yesteryear. With great accents like floor-length drapes, a cluster of mason jars turned into a chandelier and the wooden crate slotted wall above the bar, Bootleggers is hip, but not pretentious. Plus, there's ample bar seating for happy hour boozers.

The Food: Bootleggers offers four different options for $5 on the happy hour menu, including nachos covered in brisket hash and street tacos that change daily. We started with the wings, which have four different flavor options and the choice of twice fried or grilled. Being the bold little eaters we are, we opted for the pb&j wings twice fried (of course.) Although they had a great crunch and were perfectly fried, but still moist on the inside, the pb&j flavor wasn't as prominent as we were hoping for--mostly just sweetly glazed and garnished with crushed peanuts.

Next we tried the chips in dip, which featured in-house made, thin and crispy potato chips with a velvety gouda dipping sauce. We don't know how we've never thought of combining potato chips with cheese sauce, but thanks, Bootleggers, for showing us the crunchy, cheesy, salty and tangy light. Last of all, we ordered the daily tacos, which were short rib when we visited. Unfortunately, after waiting for over 30 minutes for them, we found out that they never actually got put in the system. Maybe next time.

The Drink: With a name like Bootleggers, the beverage selection should be exceptional--and it was. On the typical side, you can go for $5 well cocktails, $5 glasses of house red or white wine and $4 draft beer. We strongly suggest you venture over to the craft cocktail list, which features eight options discounted $2 off menu pricing. The fresh, light and herbal bathtub gin with Hendrick's, muddled cucumber and lemon was the perfect drink for a sunny day. The sweet, tart and fruity copycat with Skyy Citron vodka and grapefruit juice was another great option for summer. However, it was the Tito's Mojito with Tito's vodka, mint, lime and a sweet lime foam that stole our hearts--that foam made the cocktail almost like a key lime pie and we love to drink our dessert.

The Conclusion:

With good, cheap food options and excellent specialty cocktails discounted during happy hour, Bootleggers is definitely a delicious new option for thrifty diners and imbibers. While we were disappointed that our taco order never showed up, we don't totally blame the server--there were a lot of customers and just one person behind the bar and serving. It's at that point that we'd hope a manager would step in and take an order or run some food, rather than just doling out apologies when things go wrong, but hey--maybe that's just us.

Grade: B

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