Cheers: The Haute 5 Local Bars in Phoenix

Whether grabbing a drink with a date or with friends, unwinding after a workday with colleagues, or talking business, your options throughout the Valley are plenty. Here’s our Haute 5 guide to our favorites, and hopefully soon to be yours, too.


AZ/88 is the bar for the urban sophisticate in Old Town. Open since 1988 and located just off the Scottsdale Mall park, this bar and restaurant has become a unique Downtown Scottsdale landmark. Not only do they serve cocktails every night until 1:30 a.m., they serve their full menu, too, until 12:30 a.m. Featuring a self-described “virtually infinite” selection of libations, the joint can mix up any fancy cocktail combo you might be in the mood for just as easily as it can serve you an old standby. While the food is certainly excellent, there’s no doubt regulars come here for the upscale ambiance as well. You can’t miss the art; the ever-revolving displays are always surprising and more than interesting. Just in case you like to mix a little business with pleasure, know that AZ/88 offers complimentary Wi-Fi.

AZ/88 is located at 7353 Scottsdale Mall in Scottsdale  480.994.5576


Open from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekend, SideBar is a great bar for spending time with a diverse group of individuals, as it’s an all-around, people-pleasing kind of place and draws a varied crowd. Seating arrangements range from casual to intimate amid dark, mood-creating lighting. Happy Hour is from 4 to 7 p.m., and is an excellent time for you to try one of the more than 45 beers there. They also list 40-plus wines, served both by the glass and by the bottle, in addition to offering a full bar. Rest assured the cocktail juices here will be as fresh as they come, since SideBar squeezes all their cocktail juices daily.

SideBar is located at 1514 N. Seventh Avenue in Phoenix  602.254.1646


MercBar is for the NYC or other big-city transplant here in Phoenix. With its sister location in the Big Apple, the MercBar near Biltmore Fashion Park is something of a hidden gem; those who haven’t been before usually report having had a hard time finding it. But inside, the cozy booths and dark lighting ooze a sexy cool. Without a doubt, this bar is a must for impressing out-of-towners and others. The drink menu will have you and your guests salivating in no time, listing 16 single-malt scotches, ranging from Johnnie Walker Black to a 25-year-old Chivas Regal. But there is also an impressive array of bourbon, cognac, sake, absinthe, port, vodka, tequila, and a number of fun and flavorful cocktail concoctions. Or, settle in with a glass of red or white, or splurge for the rare vintage Veuve Clicquot.

MercBar is located at 2525 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix  602.508.9449

The Vig

For when you want to be yourself among friends in a casual yet quality setting (may we suggest the patio?), either one of The Vig’s two locations is an excellent choice. Living up to its “modern tavern” description, The Vig serves a great selection of libations at a range of price points in a contemporary setting. They’ve taken the liberty of dividing the wine menu for you according to intensity, and they also serve a bevy of premium imported and domestic brews, with some good choices on tap, including Stella Artois, Four Peaks’ Kiltlifter, Hoegaarden Belgian White, Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale, and usually a few seasonals. Celebrating something? Champagne and sparkling wines are available by the bottle.

The Vig is located at 4041 N. 40th Street in Phoenix  602.553.7227
The Vig Uptown is located at 6015 N. 16th Street in Phoenix  602.633.1187

Bomberos Cafe and Wine Bar

The South American-flavored Bomberos Cafe and Wine Bar is for those worldly individuals who can and do appreciate a delicious dose of Latin culture now and again. Open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, with Happy Hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Bomberos features live music, wine tastings, and many red and white wines you’re guaranteed to have never tried before, all sourced from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay. Our favorite is the Yellow + Blue Malbec from Argentina, a velvety, 100-percent certified organic wine that tastes like liquid cherries and chocolate. And if you’re a brew fanatic, this is also your opportunity to try beers from Argentina, Brazil, Coast Rica, Spain, and Venezuela, with selections changing with the seasons. “Bomberos” is Spanish for “firemen,” but here, it’s more their style to get the party started, rather than to put it out.

Bomberos is located at 8801 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix  602.687.8466