The Scout Guide for Phoenix and Scottsdale will launch mid-March of 2021, and from what I have seen so far, looks wonderful. In the guide, I will be sharing with you my picks for each of the categories I have been covering, along with the winners of their most recent contest that was held on Instagram in the fall. This next category from Dine Like a Local, Breweries, Cocktails and Corks, has been one of my favorites so far. There is so much talent in the valley, a diverse array of men and women sharing their passion for brewing, wine making and tasting, and mixology. With the start of the new year, there are many reasons to grab a friend and test out one of these spots. And if you do, please drop me a comment to let me know how you liked it! xoM
Across The Pond
Across The Pond (ATP), of Born & Raised Hospitality, is housed inside the old Central Wine space just across the walkway from sister property, Clever Koi’s Phoenix location. ATP serves an ever-changing menu of 8 different cocktails, plus an innovative menu of fresh, hand-rolled sushi. They have craft beer and wine, and are particularly known for their extensive selection of Japanese whisky served in the traditional Japanese highball style, with the soda water artfully poured down a spoon. Good to know: Get the omakase (chef’s choice) for $50, or the omakase with cocktail pairings for $80 for a one-of-a-kind experience.
4236 N. Central Ave #101 www.acrossthepondphx.com
Bitter & Twisted
Founded in 2014, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour (B&T) is an award-winning cocktail bar housed inside the beautiful, historic 1920s-era Luhrs City Center in downtown Phoenix. The soaring, stylish space ironically used to house Arizona’s Prohibition Department. Settle into one of the red leather booths and let the cocktail menu designed by Scottish-born principal barman and owner, Ross Simon, be your guide. Every detail is exquisite, from the five types of house-made ice, to the different house-infused spirits made with fresh ingredients such as grilled pineapple or pure vanilla bean, and varieties of house-made syrups, sugars and foams. Good to know: Walk ins are welcome but best to make a reservation as space is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
1 W Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ www.bitterandtwistedaz.com
Blue Clover Distillery
Blue Clover Distillery is located in Old Town Scottsdale on Indian School Rd., and makes special premium small batch vodka and gin spirits. They have 4 organically infused flavored vodkas and 2 flavored gins. All spirits are distilled from one-of-a kind hand-crafted copper pot stills. The kitchen at Blue Clover, which usually has specially chef-prepared foods to pair with the in-house spirits and beers on tap, is currently closed, but don’t this stop you from dropping in. Ladies, may I recommend the Lucky Lady, a periwinkle blue concoction with Blue Clover Gin, Crème de Violette, lemon and simple syrup. Good to know: You can also purchase Blue Clover Vodka and Gin at Total Wine, Costco, and AJ’s.
7042 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, AZ www.bluecloverdistillery.com
Jason Asher and Rich Furnari are the masterminds behind Century Grand and the bar within the bar, Platform 18. The interior of Platform 18 is a custom-built replica of a Presidential Pullman train car where cocktails and libations are served. Those with vertigo beware because the “windows” are tv screens projecting videos of a wintery scene traveling through the American Rockies. The 90-minute film loops through an actual train ride shot on the Silverton line in Colorado. Snow is glistening on the ground “outside” while the interior of the “cabin” is dimly lit. Guests are led to their assigned seats by a bartender/conductor clad in suspenders and bow tie. On the reserved table are two freshly poured champagne glasses as a little starter. Good to know: The menu features a storyline built around a fictional character named Hollis Cottley Pennington, a railroad tycoon and bootlegger inspired by the real-life story of George Remus. This journey is not to be missed.
3626 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.centurygrandphx.com
Culinary Dropout is a Fox Restaurant Concept that originated in Old Town Scottsdale, across from Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. It quickly expanded to Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and Gilbert, and is touted as a place where friends can gather to play games, have drinks, and listen to live music. Their pretzel balls and provolone fondue are famous, easily shared, and paired with cocktails that are known as “vices” that run the gamut from a Signature Old Fashioned to the Evil Jungle Princess, with rum, orgeat, pineapple, guava, and lime. They even sell Lone Star Beer, which is a brewery local to San Antonio and definitely brings back memories of high school and those Friday night lights. Good to know: Of the nearly 40 various U.S. Fox Restaurant locations, the Tempe Culinary Dropout is the company’s largest to date.
After a 25-year career as a Battalion Chief with the fire department, Brian Ruffentine and his wife, Meagan, teamed up with winemakers and dear friends, the Bostocks, to open Garage East in the craftsman community of Agritopia in Gilbert. Garage East is located in Barnone, a former haybarn constructed with metal from WWII planes that houses 12 business, including a brewery, two restaurants, salon, florist, and a gunsmithing shop. Garage East is quaint and inviting, tempting you instantly to sit with a glass of wine and light fare, have a wine tasting, or even pick up a bottle or two of wine to bring home. Good to know: most grapes come from the southeast part of Arizona, around Willcox and Sonoita.
3000 E Ray Rd., #7, Gilbert, AZ www.garage-east.com
HULA’S Modern Tiki
HULA’S Modern Tiki is a modern, urban twist on the classic tiki bars and restaurants of the ’50s & ’60s. Locally owned and operated, HULA’S has three valley locations, each with a different vibe, but all serve classic tiki drinks alongside a menu of island flavors. The Uptown location features a spacious indoor-outdoor dining patio plus a private dining space called The Tiki Room. The Old Town Scottsdale location has a lively bar scene set around communal tables, and the North Scottsdale location takes advantage of a welcoming outdoor deck replete with fire pits for winter and a misting system for the summer. Good to know: HULA’S signature Mai Tai leans more towards the acidic side, so for something on the sugary side, try the Lilikoi Margarita, flavored with the delicate sweetness of passion fruit.
Huss Brewing Co. is a local and independent craft brewery in Tempe, Arizona, with communal taprooms in Tempe and Uptown Phoenix. Huss is founded and operated by the husband and wife team of Jeff and Leah Huss who hail from Central Illinois, and together have over 25 years of experience in the craft beer industry. Jeff “Ginger” Huss graduated from the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology and was the Head Brewer for BJ’s Brewery in Chandler, Arizona for over seven years. Leah Huss graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute with a degree in Culinary Arts and was the Managing Partner at the Papago Brewing Co. in Scottsdale. Good to know: This local brewery’s beers are available only in Arizona, found at valley favorites like AJ’s, Basha’s, Bevmo, and QT, but for a complete list please reference their website.
Little Rituals is a cocktail bar and lounge by Ross Simon, of Bitter & Twisted and Lylo fame, and Aaron Defeo, former property mixologist for Tucson’s Casino del Sol. If you have read this far, you should be starting to get the idea that Ross Simon is a rockstar in the world of mixology and that everything he touches is pretty special. The concept behind Little Rituals is that of exceptional hospitality coupled with innovative food and drinks. The menus celebrate the little rituals that go into creating outstanding craft cocktails, including handmade infusions and tinctures, house aperitifs and liqueurs. Don’t miss out on the Big City Nights, with Blackberry Botanist Gin, Suze, Dolin Dry Vermouth, herbed cinnamon syrup, lemon and egg whites with a colorful topping printed on edible paper. Good to know: Little Rituals is located inside the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown on the 4th floor.
132 S Central Ave 4th Floor, Phoenix, AZ www.littleritualsbar.com
The Little Woody
The Little Woody is a small watering hole from Genuine Concepts, the neighborhood-focused restaurant group behind The Vig, The Womack, Ladera Taverna y Cocina, and The McMillan. With a Midwestern-basement chic vibe, The Little Woody serves cocktails and beer, wines by the glass, and an extensive list of whiskeys, plus a small menu of light bites like poppers and panini sandwiches overseen by the culinary director for Genuine Concepts, Jeremy Pacheco. The tiny, ornamental owls that decorate the walls add a touch of whimsey to this lively and comfortable Arcadia favorite. Good to know: There is no sign on the building and you have to park and enter from the north side.
4228 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ @littlewoodyaz
Lylo Swim Club
Lylo Swim Club is a sleek poolside bar and restaurant at the newly opened 79-room ARRIVE Hotel at Camelback and 4th Avenue. Lylo, apparently an English slang word for “pool float,” offers a playful all-day menu of Japanese/Hawaiian bites paired with inventive cocktails designed by acclaimed cocktail guru, Ross Simon, of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour and Little Rituals. Open 7-days a week in an intimate and lush pool setting that actually succeeds in disguising the noise and traffic off Camelback, Lylo is a refreshing escape within the city that is delightfully far enough away from the bachelorette party trappings of Old Town Scottsdale. Read more about my experience at Lylo here.
400 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.lylophx.com
Postino Wine Café
Postino’s Wine Café currently has 7 valley locations, the newest in South Tempe on the NW corner of Rural and Warner roads in the former Tempe Public Market Café building. Postino’s is a long-time valley favorite, serving a popular menu of salads, sandwiches and bruschetta, along with more than 30 wines by the glass and noteworthy Arizona craft brews. As part of the Upward Projects group, each Postino’s location is located in a distinctly unique renovated space, with hip mid-century modern touches. Good to know: The weekend brunch menu is sure to please with $5 mimosas, and $5 wines by the glass and pitchers or beer until 5 pm. THE SCOUT GUIDE PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE WINNER.
Sauvage Bottle Shop
Sauvage Bottle Shop is a charming wine store for those interested in venturing into the world of natural wine, a category representing wines made with natural yeast and few additives. Sauvage is known for its accessible prices, rotating inventory, and curated selection, not to mention its lovely owner, Chris Lingua. A former wine wholesaler, Chris is usually found in the shop and happy to help you find the perfect bottle for your tastes and price range, while helping to educate you along the way. Affable and casual, he makes browsing wines simple and enjoyable. Just tell him what tastes good to you, what you’re willing to pay, and he’ll provide exactly what you need. Good to know: Sauvage is located inside The Churchill in the Roosevelt Art District of downtown Phoenix. You can buy your wine to drink there on premises along with, say a Freak Brother’s Pizza, or take it to go.
901 N 1st St #109, Phoenix, AZ www.sauvagephx.com
Sorso Wine Room
Sorso Wine Room is located in the Scottsdale Quarter, and owned by Major League baseball player, Mark Teahen and his wife, Lauren. The name, Sorso, comes from the Italian word for “sip”, and their evolving wine selection is made up of unique wines from around the world. Sorso features 125 wines by the bottle, 32 wines in Wineemotion self-pour dispensers, 8-10 wines by the glass, 4 craft beers on tap, and 14 craft beers in a can. Good to know: Sorso has a full menu of gourmet food including meat, cheese, bruschetta and sweets to wash down all the delicious wine.
15323 N Scottsdale Rd #150, Scottsdale, AZ www.sorsowineroom.com
State 48 Brewery
Mario Rana owns State 48 Brewery, which is based in Surprise. This collection of local breweries consists of 4 different breweries, each featuring its own style and offerings. The original location has a full kitchen, a pizza oven, and a large, dog-friendly patio with games like cornhole and Jenga. The downtown Phoenix location is inside the historic Welnick Marketplace at Van Buren Street and Fourth Avenue, and is where their flagship year-round beers, like the Javalina Hefeweizen, are brewed. The Scottsdale location is the largest, and where State 48 brews all of their lagers, like the one I love, the Chigona Mexican Lager. Lastly, the Glendale location is next to the Cardinals and Coyote Stadiums, and has a full-service menu, 12 lanes of bowling, pool tables, and shuffleboard. Good to know: Each location has a brewhouse and brewpub onsite as well as a scratch kitchen to compliment the craft beer.
The Jade Bar
The Jade Bar is located on the north side of Camelback Mountain at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort. The bar has one of the loveliest secluded patios in the city, offering guests unmatched views, especially at sunset. The extensive drink menu features hand-crafted cocktails created from fresh herbs, juices, and vegetables. In recent news, The Jade Bar is lucky to have Christiaan Rollich, formerly of Suzanne Goin’s Lucques in LA, as the new mixologist. Good to know: Jade has daily happy hour from 4-10 pm with $9 hamburgers and $9 classic Jade cocktails, and Two Buck Shuck Tuesdays, where from 5-10 pm, oysters are $2 a piece.
Santuary. 5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com
Upstairs at Flint
Speaking of fantastic views, another option would be to head over to the Biltmore area to Upstairs at Flint. Flint charms with its open-air rooftop cocktail lounge, views of Piestewa Peak and north Phoenix, bar bites, and premium cocktails. Upstairs at Flint is part of Flint by Baltaire, the team behind LA’s successful steakhouse, Baltaire, who, in looking for a valley location, decided to open a Mediterranean inspired-restaurant in lieu of a Baltaire valley outpost. Good to know: Seating is first come, first serve, and you may need to prepare yourself to be placed on a waitlist.
2425 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.flintbybaltaire.com
Wren House Brewing Company
Located in the Green Gables neighborhood of Phoenix, Wren House Brewing Company occupies a renovated 1930s bungalow house. The nearby guest house and garage were converted into the brewhouse. In the brewhouse, head brewer Preston Thoeny, has been churning out specialty crafted beers that have been winning many awards, such as Arizona’s Best Beer of 2019 for the Devil’s Claw Imperial Stout. The interior is tastefully decorated, with music but no TV. Food is not served but customers are welcome to bring in take-out or have food delivered. Good to know: It appears the taproom is currently closed: however, on the Wren House website, there is an online store selling crowlers and cans of beer for pick up/take out. THE SCOUT GUIDE PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE WINNER.
2125 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ www.wrenhousebrewing.com