The 10 Best Bars to Take Out-of-Towners in Metro Phoenix

The nerds are coming (to Little Woody).
The nerds are coming (to Little Woody). Luigi Richie
Next time you have a visitor, be sure to put these 10 bars on your itinerary.

The Little Woody

4228 East Indian School Road

A large pair of neon eyes peering out from the building lure you into this tiny gem. With wood paneling, log wallpaper, and red accent lighting throughout, the bar can be described as a lounge-like lodge. An impressive selection of whiskey and scotch (for those of you into the harder stuff) makes it the perfect place to enjoy a nightcap. Not into whiskey? Partake in darts or plonk down at a table and let the libations flow. The Little Woody's intimate size makes it great for meeting new people. Your peepers will spot several owls during your visit, reminding you of your whereabouts.

click to enlarge Old Town's only country saloon. - RUSTY SPUR
Old Town's only country saloon.
Rusty Spur

The Rusty Spur Saloon

7245 East Main Street, Scottsdale

Officially registered as a historic landmark, The Rusty Spur was once the home of the very first Farmers' Bank of Scottsdale. While the vault may no longer hold cash, it's certainly well-stocked with booze. The former savings institution has been refashioned into a rowdy, drink-slinging saloon. Slurp down a prickly pear margarita and enjoy live country music as you two-step your way into the night. With walls and ceilings covered in Western memorabilia, license plates, and dollar bills, it's hard not to become fascinated by this watering hole. Strangers quickly become friends at this quintessential country bar.

click to enlarge The Duce is a big space, and it offers a little bit of something for everyone. - SARA WEBER
The Duce is a big space, and it offers a little bit of something for everyone.

The Duce

525 South Central Avenue

The Duce is spectacularly wacky. The understated exterior hardly does justice to everything that goes on inside, including swing dancing, boxing, and shopping. As far as the drinking goes, The Duce has an impressive selection of old-school cocktails as well as few specialties you won't find anywhere else. The vintage trailer serves up some great comfort foods, including pot pies and sliders. Take the edge off with a Tom Collins and head for the ping-pong table, shuffleboard, corn hole, and foosball, so it's practically like you can get a workout while you drink. After all, it is part-gym.

click to enlarge Crescent Ballroom's vibrant patio and balcony. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Crescent Ballroom's vibrant patio and balcony.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Crescent Ballroom

308 North Second Avenue

Crescent Ballroom may be first thought of as Charlie Levy's intimate music venue, but the front lounge, patio, and balcony operate as its own bar and eatery. The restaurant, otherwise known as Cocina 10, serves burritos, tacos, and other Arizona road food, while the full bar kicks out beer and wine (spot the Arizona brands by the cactus icon next to the menu item), as well as specialty cocktails. Try house drinks like the Rest Stop, La Ultima Palabra, or the beloved Honey Badger. Crescent Ballroom's location is ideal as well. It's found downtown, within walking distance of Arizona State University, other bars, and many an office building, but just far enough away from the high-rises to provide a stunning view of the skyline from the second-floor balcony.

click to enlarge Don't try too many of the Zombies over at The Ostrich. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Don't try too many of the Zombies over at The Ostrich.
Lauren Cusimano

The Ostrich

10 North San Marcos Place, #B1, Chandler

The Ostrich is Chandler's speakeasy. Housed in a basement below the historic San Marcos Hotel, the location gets its name from its origins as an ostrich feather storage during World War I. The plumes were eventually traded for hooch and moonshine, turning the subterranean bar into a popular destination for the 1920s elite. Nowadays, Edison bulbs dimly light the space, which features a full-size bar, as well as several booths and a few couches, making it even more reminiscent of the notorious watering hole it was in the '20s. Bring your friends here for a speakeasy-style experience.

click to enlarge A dirty martini at Hanny's in downtown Phoenix. - NICCI LATINO
A dirty martini at Hanny's in downtown Phoenix.
Nicci Latino


40 North First Street

Come for the downtown destination, stay for the martinis. At $7 apiece, Hanny's arguably has the best deal in town when it comes to martinis. The department-store-turned-swanky-bar has become a hip spot for both Phoenicians and out-of-towners during the week. With dressing rooms that have been converted into restrooms, mannequins that have been transformed into bizarre works of art, and servers dressed in lab coats, Hanny's is a wonderfully peculiar drinkery.

Cobra Arcade Bar is a must-see. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Cobra Arcade Bar is a must-see.
Benjamin Leatherman

Cobra Arcade Bar

801 North Second Street, #100

Cobra Arcade Bar is a must-see. Level up at the bar with a signature, video game-themed cocktails, like the Krazy Kong or Princess Peach, before battling with your friends in a multiplayer game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Aside from having a plethora of video games, the bar also has some killer artwork and decor. From the graffiti-blasted walls to the neon orange drainage pipes hanging overhead, it's hard not to feel as though you've hopped down a Mario Brothers warp pipe and into a digital mecca of awesome.

click to enlarge The cocktails at Bitter & Twisted are imaginative and delicious. - BITTER & TWISTED
The cocktails at Bitter & Twisted are imaginative and delicious.
Bitter & Twisted

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

1 West Jefferson Street

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour is housed on the ground floor of the Luhrs building in downtown Phoenix, which was once home of Arizona's Prohibition headquarters. The mixology destination's Duck Bath Punch is a fun play on "bathtub gin," but is far from an amateur cocktail. Prepared using Hendrick's gin, amaro, Grand Poppy liqueur, pineapple syrup, lemon juice, and Earl Grey tea, the drink is served family-style in a miniature bathtub. Artfully crafted cucumber air bubbles and tiny rubber ducks are used to garnish the concoction. Whether you choose to sip a Singapore sling, knock back an old-fashioned, or nosh on (more like devour) a bowl of the Hurricane Popcorn, Bitter & Twisted has something for everyone.

click to enlarge The bar at Century Grand in pre-pandemic times. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI PHOTO
The bar at Century Grand in pre-pandemic times.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Century Grand

3626 East Indian School Road

Drinking at Century Grand is a sublimely chaotic experience. Peruse the deep, erudite list of cocktails and natural wines or the whisk(e)y shop, The Grey Hen. That last one is inspired by 19th century New Orleans apothecaries. More than 500 whiskey bottles await in what was formerly just The Grey Hen, which also doubles as a spirits shop. Sip straight bourbons and whiskeys from the curated menu or try something from the New Orleans-inspired cocktail menu. Also: The drinking experience on the simulated train car ride, Platform 18, offers a separate journey.

click to enlarge Shoutout to the ice cubes with the H on them. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Shoutout to the ice cubes with the H on them.
Lauren Cusimano


1514 North Seventh Avenue

Highball, touted as downtown Phoenix’s newest neighborhood cocktail bar and lounge, opened in the former SideBar space. The concept is overseen by Libby Lingua and Mitch Lyons, formerly of Barter and Shake Hospitality, but the new, sleek establishment is gimmick-free. Expect an elegant copper bar, black leather couches, and exposed brick walls at the top of those stairs. Highball offers an eclectic craft cocktail menu via QR code and extremely helpful staff. They'll recommend the Amongst the Trees or the Shogun Powder (shoutout to the ice cubes with the H on them). The kimchi popcorn is good, too.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on February 28, 2017. It was updated on March 27, 2021.
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