search

Where to Drink in Metro Phoenix: Rounding Up the Valley's Best Bars



The Phoenix bar scene has never been more interesting, with a smattering of modern cocktail lounges, craft beer spots and wine bars creating an increasingly distinctive bar scene. 

If you're in downtown Phoenix, check out Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, where the Book 'o Cocktails features dozens of classic and creative cocktails. Drinks often feature fresh herbs and house-infused spirits, prepared fresh daily, and many of the fruits used in the cocktails are grown locally. 

Also in downtown Phoenix, Valley Bar offers a fun, laid-back spot to drink. The subterranean spot tends to get crowded on the weekends, but if you don't mind the crowds, make your way to the Rose Room, a colorful, basement lounge named after Arizona's first female governor, Rose Mofford. The hyper-local cocktail menu features concoctions named after Phoenix politicians and luminaries, and the drinks tend to go down smooth. 

For a cozy, intimate and charming barfly experience, don't miss The Whining Pig, home to an exhaustive beer and wine menu, gourmet bites and fun retro board games. 

Looking for a unique place to drink? Two good spots are in the city's downtown Roosevelt Row arts district: Cobra Arcade Bar is a good place to drink and play with friends. FilmBar is an unpretentious spot to enjoy wine or craft beer, and maybe even enjoy a good indie flick. 


Advertisement



It's a movie theatre, it's a bar--it's FilmBar. This appealing venue is a beer/wine bar dedicated to screening hard-to-find cult classics, local independent films as well as new releases. FilmBar is described as a "microcinema," meaning that there are only about 70 seats on the house. On any given night, you'll find the latest independent hit, nostalgia cult classic, or little-known foreign flick being screened. Behind the bar, you'll find over 25 different craft beers, 12 different wines, and popcorn, of course. FilmBar is the brainchild of Kelly Aubey, who conceived of the film-bar concept to bring independent movies to downtown Phoenix in a fun and totally unique venue.

Recommended for Bars because: FilmBar may not be a conventional bar, but it's a unique and unpretentious spot to enjoy beer and wine in Phoenix's Roosevelt Row arts district.

Patricia's expert tip: You don't have to purchase a movie ticket to drink at the bar. Stop by FilmBar for wine or craft beer anytime.

Read more about FilmBar →




If vintage arcade games, craft beers and cleverly-named cocktails sound like a great combination to you, plan a visit to Cobra Arcade Bar. As its name implies, this is a hybrid arcade and bar situated in the Roosevelt Arts District in downtown Phoenix. Not only will you find dozens of vintage arcade games, including popular games like The Simpsons, Donkey Kong and Double Dragon, you'll also find a bar serving up stiff cocktails with names like Crazy Kong and Game Over. Although the bar does not serve up food, you can reboot with the gourmet food truck parked in front of the bar.

Recommended for Bars because: Cobra Arcade Bar is the place to go when you want to drink - but also play vintage video games.

Patricia's expert tip: Enjoy a live DJ every Friday night.

Read more about Cobra Arcade Bar →




Gracie's Tax Bar is a friendly, low-key neighborhood bar in downtown Phoenix serving a good selection of beers, wine and classic cocktails. (The name, by the way, is a tribute to the tax preparation business that once occupied the space). You won't find anything too fancy here, but that's precisely the point. The cozy interior is stocked with a working jukebox, retro board and arcade games, and a comfortable outdoor patio. Bartenders are friendly, and the drinks are generally stiff. Don't come here if you want bottle service or other spendy amenities. Gracie's Tax Bar is amenable to even cash-strapped drinkers.

Recommended for Bars because: Gracie's Tax Bar is a friendly, low-key neighborhood spot for beer, wine, cocktails and good company.

Patricia's expert tip: Stop by on Monday nights for live music.

Read more about Gracie's Tax Bar →


Advertisement


Downtown Phoenix's hip cocktail lounge features over 45 different types of beers, more than 40 wines and a menu of enticing hand-crafted cocktails. SideBar is known for impeccable ingredients and high-quality drinks. The bar squeezes its own fresh juices daily, and even has its own house recipe for simple syrup and Sweet and Sour, so you know "hand-crafted" truly means hand-crafted. Hardwood floors, exposed brick and plush seating make this a favorite destination for high-class barflies, downtown hipsters and post-happy hour office workers. Located near downtown clubs, SideBar is the perfect place to stop for a nightcap, or a short cool-down between clubs.

Recommended for Bars because: SideBar is a stylish central Phoenix bar known for its creative cocktails and hip clientele.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the SideBar Collins, a house favorite.

Read more about SideBar →




For a hot-weather town, the Phoenix bar scene doesn't really have a whole lot of tiki bar action going on. UnderTow is helping to change that, though. The nautically themed tiki bar is situated under Sip Coffee & Beer Garage, and the design alone is worth a visit. The bar was designed to resemble the hold of a clipper ship, and the vibe is more sophisticated and otherworldly than kitschy. The cocktail menu focuses on revamped versions of classics like mai tais, as well as nouveau drinks including Arizona-inspired concoctions like the Dutchman's Demise. Refined bar snacks help round out the UnderTow experience.

Recommended for Bars because: UnderTow is bringing the tiki resurgence to Phoenix, complete with revamped classics and a menu of enticing modern, tiki-inspired cocktails.

Patricia's expert tip: UnderTow is closed Sundays through Tuesdays.

Read more about UnderTow →




This small, chic bar is tucked away in a nondescript strip mall in a scenic north Phoenix neighborhood. The Lounge is known for its service - the bartenders here know their stuff - and its excellent and creative selection of wine, cocktails and beer. This is the place to go when you're craving a fancy cocktail or need some advice on finding a new favorite bottle of wine. The Lounge also offers a selection of gourmet nibbles, including bruschetta and fried provolone. The ambiance is chic, cozy and refreshingly unpretentious. Happy hour is popular at The Lounge, so stop by between 4 pm to 6:30 pm for drink and food specials.

Recommended for Bars because: The Lounge is a friendly neighborhood bar that is chic, yet still unpretentious.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the bruschetta and fried provolone.

Read more about The Lounge →




The Gladly is a chic New American restaurant in central Phoenix with a stylish bistro ambiance. The globally-inspired menu includes house specialties like the popular chopped salad, brussel sprouts and pork hash. The eclectic dinner menu features an array of gourmet small plates, including charred octopus, roasted root vegetables and burrata. Popular mains include a Waygu burger, duck meatloaf and a tender belly duroc pork chop made with black garlic Oaxacan chile risotto. The restaurant has a sleek bar, which has become known for its craft cocktails. On Sundays, the restaurant's outdoor patio is a gathering place for discriminating brunch goers. This is also one of the city's top whiskey bars, with more than 200 varieties in stock.

Recommended for Bars because: Serious whiskey connoisseurs will appreciate the bar at The Gladly, which offers more than 200 types in stock.

Patricia's expert tip: Sundays are a good day to visit The Gladly - specials on drinks and dinners are often available.

Read more about The Gladly →




Valley Bar is rarity in Phoenix: a hip downtown bar that just happens to be located in a basement. Basements are uncommon in the southwest, so it's a treat to escape to the cool surroundings of a well-finished basement space - especially in the heat of summer. The bar is located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, just off Monroe and Central Avenue, and features lots of original woodwork and clean, hip decor. There is a game area with two Skeeball machines, vintage arcade video games, board games, along with a performance space, and separate lounge, The Rose Room. Come here for great hand-crafted cocktails, live music and game nights with friends.

Recommended for Bars because: Valley Bar is the place to go in downtown Phoenix for hyper-local cocktails and a fun, lively basement bar experience.

Patricia's expert tip: Swing by on a Monday night for specials on drinks and games.

Read more about Valley Bar →


Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Photo courtesy of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour


Bitter & Twisted is a welcome addition to the downtown Phoenix scene. This cocktail parlour, tucked away in the historic Luhrs building, promises to deliver hand-crafted cocktails made from scratch using the finest house-infused spirits. Stop in for globally inspired bar bites, live music and, of course, an extensive cocktail selection featuring locally grown fruits and produce. Not sure what to order? Check out the handy bar guide on the menu, which will guide you to the perfect sweet, savory or tangy drink. The stylish venue offers an intimate place to enjoy a nightcap with friends.

Recommended for Bars because: Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour offers a modern, hand-crafted spin on favorite classic cocktails.

Patricia's expert tip: Come hungry – Bitter & Twisted offers a fun, late-night food menu.

Read more about Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour →




The Whining Pig has earned a loyal local following in Phoenix, getting high marks for excellent service, an exhaustive beer and wine menu, and hands-down some of the best ambiance in the city. The decor is fun, charming and totally whimsical - note the penny-lined bar, massive chalkboard and vintage board games. The bar itself is tiny, but that only makes it easier to socialize with friends and fellow wine and beer lovers. The food options are limited, but there's always something delicious to nibble on in between sips (gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and charcuterie boards). Cozy, friendly and thoroughly unpretentious, the Whining Pig is a winner.

Recommended for Bars because: The Whining Pig is a cozy, friendly bar with an exhaustive wine list and fun, retro board games.

Patricia's expert tip: Happy hour goes on all day on Sundays. This tiny bar gets crowded fast, so grab a bar stool early.

Read more about The Whining Pig →


Map

Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

×