Scottsdale is a town that likes to drink—and I mean that in the best possible way. The central Old Town and entertainment districts cater to a variety of tastes, but the classic Arizona trifecta of beer, wine, and margaritas reigns supreme. As a result, I’ve stretched the definition of “best cocktails” to include a few spots to try Arizona’s craft beers and wines from the state’s thriving wine country. Yes, Arizona wine. The cool grasslands of southeastern Arizona have a soil chemistry similar to that Burgundy, France, and the maturing vineyards are producing surprisingly good wines. That’s not to say you can’t get a good cocktail here. In fact, I’d argue that we’ve helped rescue the margarita from the American out-of-the-bottle travesty and return the tart drink it to its roots: fresh lime juice, a little agave syrup and barrel-aged tequila. Whatever your poison, the options below won’t disappoint.
Margaritas at the Mission
The margarita is Arizona’s unofficial state cocktail, and with 10 salt-rimmed options to choose from at the Mission, you’ll understand why. Among my favorites: the tart Blood Orange, the mescal-laced Smokehouse, and the Elderflower Paloma, made with freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit juice, St-Germain liqueur and Partida tequila.
Martinis at AZ88
Just the mention of AZ88 to its devoted regulars brings the same response: Oh, the martinis! This place knows how to shake (or stir) a mean dirty martini. And they’re big—I mean double the size of your average cocktail. If you tend favor flavored martinis, try the cucumber-infused English Garden or the French, a sweet mix Absolut Kurrant, Framboise liqueur and pineapple juice.
Exotic Cocktails at Sumo Maya
This Mexican-Asian fusion restaurant and bar specializes blending exotic flavors, and its craft cocktails are no exception. They range from the Tamarind (rye, tamarind, lime, ginger) and Kumquat (soju, citrus juices, candied kumquats, pineapple puré) to the Passionfruit (a smoky-but-refreshing mix of cucumber, passion fruit, mescal, lime and ginger beer).
Arizona Beers at O.H.S.O. Eatery + nanoBrewery
The ever-changing lineup of drafts at O.H.S.O. feature a host of Arizona brews, including longtime favorites, such as SanTan Brewing’s Mr. Pineapple and Four Peaks Hop Knot IPA and the Scottish-style ale, Kilt Lifter. Be bold, though, and order one of the experimental or brewed-onsite options, like the Praying Monk pale ale or triple.