With the deadline for tax returns now behind us, who couldn’t use a good happy hour enjoyed among friends? Here we present five Phoenix bars and restaurants with some stellar cocktails.
1 Jade Bar
Did you know Jade Bar laid claim to the "Most Inspired Bartender 2010" as determined by Bombay Sapphire and "GQ" magazine? That's right, mixologist Jason Asher's Beet Yuzu Gimlet was the big winner. But Jade Bar's tradition of excellence has certainly continued, and the cocktails are no less inventive. Signature libations include the Uva Bella, with Plymouth Gin, St. Germain, red grapes and lemon; the Fiery Mandarin, a mixture of Absolut Vodka, jalapeño, orange zest, and ultra-fresh cranberry and lemon juices; a super simple but super delicious Grapefruit Basil cocktail; and the Climactic Account, made with Laphroaig scotch, Luxard maraschino, yellow and green chartreuse, peach bitters and lemon. Don't forget to look over the list of champagne cocktails and "old's cool" concoctions, either. Jade Bar's cocktails feature hand-selected spirits and the absolute freshest of juices, herbs and vegetables. Oh, and the Beet Yuzu Gimlet is still on the menu at this bar perched perfectly on the side of Camelback Mountain.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, 5700 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley 480.948.2100 web
2 Rum Bar at The Breadfruit
Featuring rums new and vintage from around the world, Rum Bar serves up tasty daiquiris and mojitos featuring Matusalem Platino, Clément Cuvée Homère and other rums, as well as signatures such as the Spicy Rumtini, made with Wray & Nephew Overproof, vermouth, lime, basil and scotch bonnet pepper; and The Estate Mai Tai, made with Appleton Estate V/X, Rhum St. James, Luxardo Amaretto, lime and Clement Creole Shrubb. The bar also serves up their take on traditionals like a pina colada and a dark and stormy. But all are designed to be complementary to The Breadfruit's Jamaican dishes. Some jerk chicken, some Red Stripe-curried prawns, some reggae music playing overhead, and a cocktail in hand, and we think you'll be feeling pretty good.
108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix 602.267.1266 web
Visited not so long ago by a certain "Twilight" actress, the MercBar has been a favorite haunt of the Valley's elite, including professional athletes, chief executives and socialites. The cocktails here aren't necessarily the most innovative in the Valley, but they're still nothing short of excellent and incorporate the best ingredients and liquors that money can buy. With the venue's nondescript exterior, hard-to-find front door and dimly lit interior, sexy martinis immediately come to mind. The Mr. Moonlight and Blackbird are favorites, but it's the Sexy Sadie, made with Grey Goose Poire vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, pear puree and Mathilde blackcurrant liqueur, that has us wanting more.
2525 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix 602.508.9449 web
The first thing you'll notice is the quirky art, which rotates constantly, at AZ/88, but it will be the bites, cocktails and the atmosphere that keep you coming back. The bartenders here are dearly devoted to the art of mixing cocktails and martinis, and they've even included an ode to the latter on their website, describing the libation as a work of beauty. And the good news is, their generously sized drinks taste even better than they look -- and they look amazing, trust us. If it's your lucky day, you'll snag a table on the restaurant's patio, which over looks the Civic Center Mall, and is a prime spot to chill. The Pineapple Martini is beautiful, the Summer Solstice Martini is piquant and the Caramel Apple Martini is like autumn in a glass.
7353 Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale 480.994.5576 web
5 Trader Vic's
Trader Vic's offers more fun and tropical island-inspired cocktails than you could shake a lei at. Touting itself as the "home of the original mai tai," the Trader Vic's brand says it concocted a rum drink in 1944 and served it to a customer who, upon tasting it, said "mai tai roa ae," which is Tahitian for "out of this world." So head to Trader Vic's if it's the real deal you're after. Other signature cocktails include the Siboney, a Caribbean cocktail blend of dark rum, passion fruit, pineapple and lemon named after the Siboney Indians; and the Scottsdale Cactus Bloom, a blend of tequila and pisco brandy mixed with lemoncello, fruit juice and spiced prickly pear syrup; the Bahia, a summery concoction of light rum with coconut and pineapple; and more than 50 other delightful cocktails and alcoholic drinks to choose from. And if you're considering something to share, check out Trader Vic's festive party libations, created to be shared between two or more people; a favorite among the regulars is the Scorpion Bowl, a concoction of rums, fruit juices, brandy and almond, served with a flower and some long straws.
Hotel Valley Ho, 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale 480.248.2000 web