Scottsdale’s downtown neighborhood used to be Arizona’s prime nightlife hub, with a Vegas-like lineup of bars, live music venues and mega-clubs. In the past decade though, tastes have changed, and the densely packed cluster of top bars and clubs has dissipated, with new spots opening up in other parts of town, like north Scottsdale, and central and downtown Phoenix. That’s not to say the pedestrian-friendly downtown area isn’t an important destination for those in search of nightlife. Rather, there are just more options around town, catering to different tastes and crowds, from wine bars and lounges to Western-style saloons. Below are just a handful of the best, including the downtown Phoenix music venue, Crescent Ballroom, which is about 30 minutes from Scottsdale. The lineup of live acts that play the bar is just too good to leave off a “top bars” list. Also, I encourage you visit our lists for Best Outdoor Bars and Best Hotel Bars, which feature my favorite bars in the city.
Second Story Liquor Bar
It’s all about handcrafted cocktails at this second-story speakeasy and restaurant. The changing lineup features reinvented takes on classic cocktails, including gimlets, martinis, old-fashioneds and retro punches. My favorite: the Corpse Reviver, a well-shaken mix of gin, Lillet, Cointreau, lemon juice and crème de violette, which gives the drink a unique lavender hue.
Located in downtown Phoenix, Crescent is one of a handful of small venues in the city where you can see big-name acts and up-and-coming bands. The industrial, candlelit-setting is a favorite with hipsters and music lovers, and its small bar and patio are open to public even when the main room is hosting a show.
Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa
Travis Nass’ creative, yet not overly frou-frou drinks attract a cocktail-savvy crowd to the bar at The Heromosa Inn, a boutique hotel in the desert enclave of Paradise Valley. The specialties: the bourbon-fueled Buffalo Peach Smash and the Mesquite Sour, made with High West Campfire Whiskey, mesquite amber syrup, lemon and mole bitters.