by Alyssa Tidwell
Best Arizona Brewery: THAT Brewery
THAT Brewery & Pub serves up craft beers and comfort food with local Arizona beef and many locally sourced items in the cities of Cottonwood and Pine, the original location. Cottonwood is where the magic happens; this location houses the production brewery and tasting room where visitors can enjoy samplers, pints, pitchers, six-packs and growlers to go. The industrial-style building makes for a fun, casual atmosphere with corn hole and board games. At the Pine location, there’s live music during the summer months. Both locations are pet friendly and guests can even bring their own food in or have it delivered from local restaurants. thatbrewery.com.
Best Bar to Feed Your Inner Child, Best Day-Drinking Spot, and Best Dive Bar: Boondocks Patio & Grill
Boondocks Patio & Grill in Downtown Scottsdale wins three categories for a reason: it has stellar libations like the Mexican mule, banana colada and strawberry dock-quiri from its “docktails” menu; bar food favorites taken to the next level, including duck fat fries and roasted corn on the cob; and even a climate-controlled patio with all the best bar games including ping pong, dart boards, skee-ball, basketball pop-shot and even a few arcade games. boondocksaz.com.
Best Bartender/Mixologist: Sheldon Wiley
Sheldon Wiley has a need for speed. Crafting cocktails with flare since the early 2000’s, Wiley is a four-time Guinness World Record holder in bartending and has been dubbed “The Fastest Bartender in the World.” Wiley has designed beverage menus for Morgan’s Hotel Group, Top Chef Kitchen, Top Chef Cruise and The Maggiore Group restaurants in Arizona. He splits his jet-set life between Phoenix and New York with his wife and son.
Best Bloody Mary: Hash Kitchen
If a nightclub and a charming breakfast bistro fused into one, you’d end up with Hash Kitchen. And this popular, energetic brunch joint has some of the best Bloody Marys in the Valley. With a variety of infused in-house vodkas—flavors like cucumber, jalapeño, pickle pepper and cilantro lime—Hash Kitchen also boasts more than 60 toppings to make your drink as delightfully over-the-top as possible. Toppers include pickled eggs, fried ravioli, salami, bacon, sausage, fried onion rings and more. hashkitchen.com.
Best Comedy House: Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy on High Street in Phoenix showcases top comedy acts from across the globe and has made appearances at the famous Just For Laughs Festival, “America’s Got Talent,” “Last Comic Standing,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Show” and more. This hysterical hot spot offers food and drink in an intimate, setting where visitors can get up close and personal with the performers. az.houseofcomedy.net.
Best Country Music Bar and Best Dance Floor: Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
Country meets EDM at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, with several locations across the Valley. This high-octane space makes a name for itself with award-winning food and drinks and exhilarating nightlife—expect to see the place packed on Friday and Saturday nights. In addition to its Arizona locations, Whiskey Row can also be found in the country music capital of the world, Nashville. dierkswhiskeyrow.com.
Best Craft Beer Bar: Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery
Located in the heart of Old Town, Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery features a 10-barrel brewing system serving locally made Two Brothers’ beers exclusive to the Scottsdale location. The brewery also offers five ever-changing brewed-on-site beers that complement the lineup of the brewery’s yearlong favorites and seasonal brews. Two Brothers also offers an extensive pub menu featuring made-from-scratch artisan dishes consisting of locally sourced and organic food. And dog lovers, don’t fret: the expansive patio is dog friendly and a great spot for enjoying happy hour or brunch. twobrothersbrewing.com.
Best Craft Cocktails: The Sicilian Butcher
The Sicilian Butcher is centered upon a build-your-own meal experience with gourmet meatballs and Italian-cured meats for charcuterie boards. On top of stellar dinner fare, this Italian eatery’s beverage game is on point with an incredible craft cocktail program and happy hour all day every day (yes, you heard correctly). Dabble in solo libations like the Sicilian Spritz and the Milan Margarita, or try one of the “social cocktails” serving two or more (check out the Catania Sunset: vodka, butterfly pea powder-infused white wine sangria, passion fruit and fresh lime juice). thesicilianbutcher.com.
Best Dance Music Scene, Best Party Bar, Best Place to Spend A 21st Birthday, and Strongest Drink: El Hefe
An electrifying nightlife experience, El Hefe seems to be constantly running at 110 percent. By day, El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria is a killer taco joint, and by night it’s a flashy club with a variety of heavy-hitting drinks, and one of the best happy hours in town (Tuesday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.). With locations in Tempe, Scottsdale and even Chicago, check out cocktails like the Mamacita and the Amor Azul, in addition to one of the strongest drinks in the Valley, the Blackout Margarita (a k a Beergarita). elhefe.com.
Best Happy Hour: K O’Donnell’s Sports Bar & Grill
K O’Donnell’s is a locally-owned sports bar focusing on customer service and food with fresh, quality ingredients. Sports bars often get a bad rap when it comes to quality fare, something K O’Donnell’s strives to transcend. In addition to being the best place to watch a game (on more than 70 TV’s), they pride themselves on offering from-scratch food and craft cocktails. They also recently finished a massive remodel of the restaurant, upping their game even further. On top of their regular happy hour Monday through Friday, K O’Donnell’s also offers a reverse happy hour seven days a week from 9 p.m. to close. kodonnells.com.
AFM Fave! Best Happy Hour: The Porch
A neighborhood joint in the heart of Phoenix’s beautiful Arcadia district, The Porch is a favorite place to catch happy hour—its “Happiest Hour” runs 3 to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and gets you $4 pints, $5 well drinks, $6 house wines, $8 Big Trouble in Shanghai (a signature cocktail) and $7 food specials. With an extensive wine menu, craft cocktails and a patio that encapsulates the rustic, white picket fence aesthetics of Arcadia, The Porch is the perfect place to kick back and relax. porcharcadia.com.
Best Local DJ: DJ Amaral
DJ Jon Amaral has always had a passion for music. Growing up, he attended an event and witnessed his first DJ. It was there he decided on his future career. After moving to Arizona, he started at school dances, classmate parties, resorts and corporate events. Amaral spent a couple of years traveling around the country with premier artists as a tour DJ. Afterward, Amaral decided to focus on building residences in Old Town Scottsdale. DJ Jon is a weekly resident at HiFi, Casa Amigos, Pretty Please Lounge and Bevvy. @djjon_amaral
AFM Fave! Best Local DJ: DJ Soloman
A veteran of the Arizona dance scene for more than two decades, Matt Brough, known professionally as DJ Soloman, has played clubs and festivals across the country including the Ultra Music Festival and has opened for popular acts like Deadmau5, Afrojack and Skrillex. Soloman has held residencies in nightclubs, bars, restaurants and gyms. Recently, he’s been seen spinning on the decks at W Scottsdale, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Talking Stick Resort’s Degree 270. djsoloman.com.
Best Margarita: CRUjiente Tacos
Modern taqueria CRUjiente Tacos was founded in 2016 by Jason Morris (certified level 2 in the Court of Master Sommeliers) and Executive Chef Richard Hinojosa to bring a unique gourmet taco experience to the Valley. And while the tacos at CRUjiente are undeniably impressive, the margaritas also turn heads. Made with top-quality tequilas and fresh ingredients, CRUjiente offers several varieties like the Premier CRU, Grand CRU, passionfruit-serrano margarita as well as the Arcadia Margarita, made with 100 percent blue agave tequila, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, house agave syrup and fresh-squeezed lime. crutacos.com.
Best Mimosa: Wrigley Mansion
Originally built in 1932, the Wrigley Mansion stands at the top of its hill in the Biltmore neighborhood, offering luxurious, serene refuge with 360-degree views of surrounding Phoenix and Scottsdale and its gorgeous mountains. Wrigley Mansion’s mimosas are served during the mansion’s signature Sunday Brunch, included as part of your meal. They are poured-to-order using freshly squeezed orange juice and the Wrigley Mansion’s private label Spanish Brut Cava. wrigleymansion.com.
Best Nightclub: Riot House
Riot House in Scottsdale evokes the casual vibes of a South Beach lifestyle in the desert with chunky tables, chairs and couches sporting electric floral prints. And the front of the establishment is a bright, open space, eliciting an outdoor feel with green turf and vibrant foliage. During the night time hours, Riot House is a local hot spot for drinks and dancing, with unique craft cocktails from happy hour to close. riothousescottsdale.com.
Best Nightlife Photographer: Zee Peralta
California native and Phoenix transplant, Zee Peralta has been capturing the lives of Phoenicians of all walks of life for many years, choosing to leave her corporate phase in life to get more in touch with her art and her passion for capturing the true human experience. As one of Phoenix’s most decorated photographers, Peralta has appeared in multiple publications and exhibitions throughout Phoenix, including a mural of her street photography work at Roosevelt and Central in Phoenix, at the heart of the creative culture that fuels Phoenix’s nightlife and music scene. Resident photographer for two of the Valley’s hottest venues, Zee has captured the feeling of music through visual representations of what music means to both the artist and the audience. zeeperalta.com.
Best Place to Buy Alcohol: Hidden Track Bottle Shop
Hidden Track Bottle Shop was established in 2015 by Craig Dziadowicz and Danielle Middlebrook. The duo designed an experience to guide customers into a bottle of wine based off of flavor and emotion rather than price or varietal. Hidden Track Bottle Shop offers wines that extend beyond what you’ll find in chain retail and grocery stores. If it’s on their shelves, they’ve tasted it, love it, and are eager to share with customers. Hidden Track Bottle Shop also offers tastings twice a week, as well as collectible wines, natural wines, hard-to-find wines, special orders and deliveries. hiddentrackbottleshop.com.
Best Rooftop Bar: Degree 270 at Talking Stick Resort
Located high atop Talking Stick Resort’s 14thfloor, Degree 270 is one of Scottsdale’s best nightclubs—and the only one that will make you feel like you’re in Vegas. An energetic dance club, it is flanked by a stylish bar and floor-to-ceiling windows featuring unforgettable views of the city and surrounding landscapes. Guests party the night away on the club’s spacious dance floor to the sounds of EDM, electro house, hip hop and indie dance from the Valley’s top DJs, while enjoying premium bottle service and hand-crafted cocktails. talkingstickresort.com.
Best Wine Bar: Sorso Wine Room
Sorso Wine Room is a stylish escape; a cool and comfortable place to relax with friends, sip your way through some 150 spectacular wines, specialty cocktails or craft beers and dine from a menu of salads, sandwiches, bruschetta, flatbreads and more. The contemporary décor combines rustic and industrial elements that feel new and vibrant, yet infused with history and a sense of place. The focal point of the restaurant is the Wine Wall where guests are invited to taste 32 wines from around the world from self-serve dispensers. sorsowineroom.com.
Best Blues/Jazz Bar: The Rhythm Room, rhythmroom.com.
Best Cougar Bar: Blue Martini, bluemartinilounge.com.
Best Gay Bar: BS West, bswest.com.
Best Hipster Bar: Casey Moore’s, caseymoores.com.
Best Karaoke Night: Blind Dragon, blinddragonscottsdale.com.
Best Late Night Munchie: AZ88, az88.com.
Best Lounge: W Scottsdale Living Room, marriott.com.
Best Place to Discover New Music: The Van Buren, thevanburenphx.com.
Best Pub: Rúla Búla, rulabula.com.
Best Saloon: tie between Handlebar J, handlebarj.com; The Hideaway Grill, hideaway-usa.com.
Best Trivia Night: Skeptical Chymist, skepticalchymist.com.