The Spot: Cafe Zuzu
6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale
Monday through Friday between 4 and 7 pm.
The Details: 3 dollar bonanza! Enough to satisfy just about anyone: six fancy cocktails, five appetizers, four beers and four types of wine.
The Interior: Retro chic best describes the atmosphere of Cafe Zuzu, which has the potential to make you feel like an extra on Mad Men. The boutique flair that makes the Hotel Valley Ho so distinctive is on full display in the cocktail lounge of Cafe Zuzu, which boasts exposed brick walls and clean geometric patterns. The color palate incorporates bright splashes of avocado, orange, teal and red. It sounds gaudy on paper, but believe me, this is nothing like your Aunt Judy's kitchen that time forgot.
Tea light candles and bright gerbera daisies add a little something extra to the tables, and there is plenty of seating to accommodate any sized group. Luxurious, curvy couches, a long comfy bench with plenty of throw pillows, and intimate two-tops are all accented by small knee-high tables. More traditional table settings and seating at the bar is also available. And don't fret, there are plenty of glass windows to ensure that you can see and be seen with the colorful Scottsdale crowd.
The Cost: Four drinks, three apps. The math is easy: $21 before tax and tip.
The Conclusion: Café Zuzu is located in the swanky lounge area of the Hotel Valley Ho, and between the hours of 4 and 7 pm during the week they call on their retro roots with the Cool Redux happy hour. For three dollars their cocktail menu simply can't be beat.
The Citrus Twist is a refreshing grapefruit cure for the summertime blues, the Bramble a gin-based blackberry infusion, and the Zuzu Senorita a tart, made-to-order margarita. While all these cocktails are refreshing, the best liquor to dollar ratio exists with the Hot 'N' Dirty martini, an extra dirty vodka martini shocked by a few shakes of Tabasco and accented by jalapeno-stuffed olives. They even bring it out in a cute little cocktail shaker to pour table-side, ensuring that not a drop is wasted on the way there.
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Domestic beer by the bottle and PBR drafts are also included at happy hour prices. If inclined to get a beer, go with the draft option. The pint glasses are so frosty cold that a layer of ice floats to the top of a freshly poured beer. The wine list is short but varied, with pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot and even a bit of bubbly if you're feeling festive.
For happy hour nibbles, there are a variety of small plates with enough on the menu for veg heads and carnivores alike. The spinach and artichoke dip was creamy with huge chunks of artichoke, but the crostini were tooth-chipping hard. Better menu items sampled included two bitsy little grilled cheese sandwiches and the prime rib dip. Although small, the buttery brie paired well with crisp green apple and fig jam for a rich, sweet, and savory treat. Likewise, the prime rib dip with horseradish mayo and au jus was tender and surprisingly ample. Pair this with another three dollar app of choice and you could easily substitute a swanky happy hour for a staid dinner at home.
At three bucks a pop, there's no excuse not to round up some friends and make the trek to Cafe Zuzu to split a couple apps and sip your way through their specialty cocktail menu.
Overall Grade: A