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Sip and Savor Your Way Through Scottsdale

Scottsdale beckons night owls of all kinds, no matter if you enjoy a nightcap in a chic hotel bar or the pulsating music of DJs spinning into the wee hours of the morning. Saddle up next to the bar at one of Scottsdale’s cowboy saloons or listen to a mixologist wax poetically about the local ingredients they’ve procured to elevate an ordinary cocktail to extraordinary. In a place where innovation and creativity is king, it’s no wonder Scottsdale’s nightlife scene is as intoxicating as the city’s fiery sunsets.

HIP HOTEL WATERING HOLES

Some of Scottsdale’s best watering holes can be found in the destination’s 72 hotels and resorts. Flaunting scenic settings and impeccable service, hotel bars are vacationer and local hotspots, and are the center of Scottsdale’s burgeoning cocktail scene.

Some of the most highly acclaimed bartenders in the world got their start at jade bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, including Tyson Buhler, who was named 2015 U.S. Bartender of the Year by the United States Bartenders’ Guild and Diageo World Class, and Jillian Vose of Dead Rabbit in New York. Here, they learned to craft jade bar’s distinctive cocktails, which are known to emphasize fresh herbs and hand-squeezed juices. Soak up the serene mountain views as you sip on a Strawberry Rhubarb Collins with rhubarb-infused gin and tarragon, or a Meiji Melon with reposado tequila, watermelon and yuzu. The resort is also home to the ever-popular Bar Brawl, a summer competition that features Arizona’s top mixologists squaring off in a battle for supremacy.

Settle in at the Thirsty Camel Lounge at The Phoenician and meet Robert Porter, 2016 Arizona Star Bartender champion. Order the Phoenix Rising, which features the resort’s exclusive Woodford Reserve bourbon with orange liqueur, grenadine and bitters, or ask Porter for his off-menu Solar Eclipse with gin, Cointreau, cranberry juice and fresh basil and ginger.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa lays claim to master mixologist Matt Allen, who oversees the resort’s beverage programs. Hop from venue to venue, sampling fresh and fruity drinks at The Muddle Bar and the seasonal ingredients that are highlighted at Rim Bar. Whiskey and tequila drinkers will swoon at Waltz & Weiser Saloon, home to The Westin's exclusive double barrel Casa Herradura reposada, while Scotch drinkers will gravitate toward the resort’s Scotch Library featuring more than 225 whiskeys and educational lessons on the spirit’s origins and importance. 

At La Hacienda at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the property’s Tequila Goddess Katie Schnurr guides guests through sipping and savoring 240 varieties of tequilas, sotols and mescals. Schnurr holds a rare expert designation from the Tequila Regulatory Council in Mexico. Every year, she travels south of the border to visit tequila producers and select the resort’s signature tequila, found only at La Hacienda.

DOWNTOWN SCOTTSDALE

Downtown Scottsdale’s cocktail scene is sexy and fresh thanks to these bars and lounges turning up the heat and demanding innovation and creativity.

Second Story Liquor Bar’s sophisticated cocktails go hand-in-hand with its intimate lounge setting. Here, mixologist John Christie draws upon his history degree by dividing the menu into categories like Golden Age and the Classics. Play it safe with an Old Fashioned or take a leap of faith with drinks such as Corpse Reviver.

Counter Intuitive rotates themes every four to six months, and each cycle Jason Asher, named the best new bartender of 2010 by GQ Magazine, overhauls the cocktail haven’s décor and drink menu. Catch the action exclusively on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Previous incarnations have included a New Orleans estate sale, Cuban hideaway and Chinatown hangout. Currently, the setting is Tijuana during the Prohibition era, so expect creative cocktails celebrating agave spirits such as the Onrush with Fortaleza tequila, St. George Green Chile Vodka, poblano syrup, pineapple and lime. 

At Citizen Public House, the craft cocktails and elevated pub food menu are equal stars. Look for barrel-aged beverages, infused-spirits, house-made syrups and shrubs and frequent multicourse cocktail-pairing dinners.

See mixologists from many of the aforementioned bars during Arizona Cocktail Week in February. The event kicks off with Cocktail Carnival poolside at the Hotel Valley Ho, followed by three days of seminars, tastings, popup bars from all over the country and special events including Cocktailgaiting and the Artisanal Market.

BEERS AND BREWS

Scottsdale welcomes brew lovers with a robust ale trail downtown. Start the day at Craft 64, home to a rotating selection of more than 30 local beers including their own brews, Smooove Hoperator IPA or Craft Blonde, which you can order to accompany an artisan wood-fired pizza.  Sip Coffee & Beer House is a comfortable, casual spot celebrating all things local – coffee, musical artists, farmers market ingredients and breweries such as Dragoon Brewing in Tucson and Papago Brewing in Scottsdale. Next door is Goldwater Brewing, a family-owned brewery and tap room offering 14 craft beers, ranging from pilsners to stouts. At Bad Water Brewing’s taproom, try one of the brewery’s trifecta of beers, the flagship Saison, IPA or Western Lager, while enjoying a cheese board. Two Brothers, a Midwest family-run brewery, offers five rotating brewed-onsite beers along with a lineup of favorites and seasonal brews in an expansive two-floor restaurant.

Arizona Beer Week celebrates Arizona’s craft beers with a signature Strong Beer Festival. Also enjoy beer brunches, pub crawls, beer tappings and tasting events at breweries, bars and restaurants such as Pig & Pickle and Proof, an American Canteen at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. A fun-filled two-day gathering, the CrushBrew Craft Beverage Festival takes place along the Scottsdale Waterfront and allows you to sample craft and boutique beverages, attend seminars and meet the brewers and distillers behind the artisanal wines, beers and spirits. 

SEE-AND-BE-SEEN

The New York Times once described Scottsdale as the “desert version of Miami's South Beach" because of the destination’s trendy pools, nightclubs and lounges sure to energize your night.

It doesn’t get any hotter in Scottsdale than the weekend social scene at the WET pool deck at W Scottsdale. Open all day, every day, this second-story swim deck is home to a temperature-controlled pool with underwater portholes, lighting and music, as well as two sultry bars and a DJ spinning beats on the weekend. Carved into the central courtyard of this restored 1950s gem and voted one the “coolest” in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine, the OH Pool Bar & Cabanas at Hotel Valley Ho is a sparkling sanctuary offering Session Saturdays with DJ entertainment and food and drink specials.  In the heart of downtown’s nightlife district, Maya Day + Nightclub features a poolside taco bar, Arizona’s largest LED video screen, and a floating stage that welcomes celebrities and DJs such as Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris. At night, break from the pool for dancing and drinking in an upscale, chic club that sets the new standard for high-end entertainment in Scottsdale. The luxurious Talking Stick Resort is home to a casino, restaurants and a variety of music venues such as Degree 270 with DJs, live entertainment and bottle service, The Pool, where you can reserve a cabana for poolside concerts, and The Showroom hosting national headlining acts. 

Other high-end spots in downtown include Mint Ultra Lounge, which boasts a 4,500-square-foot patio with cabanas, a 30-foot bar and an upscale Hollywood Regency décor where DJs spin their tunes. LiveWire, a two-level, 14,000 square foot multiuse nightclub and music facility, invites comedians, artists, bands and DJs to perform in a vintage glam setting. The 4,500-square-foot Dakota transforms from a full-service restaurant with a California bistro vibe by day into a high-energy bar and live music venue with bottle service by night. 

Casual spots include downtown’s Wasted Grain, a bar with al fresco drinking and games such as beer pong and giant Jenga, and a music venue for DJs and live bands, including 100 Proof, the second-floor dance club. Wine lovers know to search for the tucked-away entrance to Kazimierz World Wine Bar. Its cozy nooks, flickering candles and stone walls set the tone for exploration of a wine list with more than 2,000 wines and noshing on shared plates while listening to live music.

Embrace all that’s great about the Southwest at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, a 1920s-style saloon, and enjoy live tunes from national and local acts. Get your kicks at Rusty Spur Saloon, a historic tavern known for live country music and an unpretentious feel that has beckoned celebrities like John Wayne and Vince Vaughn to knock back suds.