I must admit my bias at the start: The Hermosa Inn is one of my happy places. I’ve covered political fundraisers there, enjoyed romantic staycations with my beloved there (we even brought our firstborn fur son one year, since the hotel is dog-friendly) and feasted on countless media dinners and happy hours with friends and colleagues there. I even wrote a profile of owner Ron Allred (and his lovely wife, Joyce) a couple of years ago. I just love the intimacy of the resort, which was built in the 1930s as a private retreat for cowboy artist Lon Megargee and now houses 43 casitas that feel like desert-chic guesthouses. And I’m an Arizona girl with a penchant for elegant Southwestern design, which the Hermosa has in spades.
There are not many places in the Valley I’d rather spend a fall evening than on the beautiful patio of LON’S Last Drop bar at the Hermosa, which is festooned with flowers, desert flora and languid strands of twinkling lights, along with a lovely fountain and a Mexican horno-style fireplace. It’s the most picturesque happy hour in the Valley, in my admittedly biased estimation.
Chef Jeremy Pacheco is the most humble, low-key, unassuming culinary wizard I’ve ever known. You talk to the man and he acts like he’s just a regular shmoe when, in fact, he’s one of the best chefs in the state. He cares so much about his sourcing that, in my mind, he is the Valley’s super chill male answer to Alice Waters.
Pacheco’s relaxed wizardry is on delicious display on the Last Drop happy hour menu. Beef tacos ($9 for three) are tender and luscious. You know what? So are the Wagyu beef sliders ($10 for three), which melt in your mouth like softened butter in a hot roll.
Bar snacks are not an afterthought: heirloom popcorn is enlivened with salt and vinegar; fire-roasted marinated olives are smoky and salty; roasted jalapeño hummus comes with pillowy house-made pita; marinated Crow’s Dairy goat cheese curds are milky, salty, seasoned perfection; and raw and pickled seasonal vegetables provide the crunch, zing and nutrients necessary to balance all that beef. Quark “ranch” is a fun and creative touch, too.
I wouldn’t limit myself to just the happy hour menu, though – “Plates to Share” are worth ordering, whether or not you’re sharing. Pacheco’s known for his ethereally light lobster tempura ($24), served with fried shishito peppers, red onion and aji amarillo aioli. His queso (served as part of the tortilla chip trio, $14, with guacamole and salsa) is legit – cheesy and gooey, with a bit of a kick. The blue crab cakes ($17) with fennel-orange salad and Old Bay aioli (can I put that on everything?) are light but satisfying. And is it really happy hour if you don’t order some sort of fried potato? The Parmesan truffle fries with truffle dipping sauce ($9) are a worthy splurge.
Happy hour drink deals start cheap: $5 for Arizona craft canned beer. Wines on tap and well cocktails are just $6, draft cocktails (Hermosa Mule and the house margarita) are $7, Tito’s cocktails are $8 and featured Azuñia cocktails cost $12-$20. I’m partial to the house margarita with prickly pear syrup, served alongside the marg in a cunning little pipette so you can inject your own cocktail and watch the hyper-saturated pink liquid blossom throughout the drink.
House bottled cocktails ($14) are fun and easy to sip, and worth ordering even though they’re not discounted for happy hour. The Stetson is a smoky yet fresh mix of El Silencio mezcal, curaçao, fresh lime juice, prickly pear and agave nectar. Rum lovers will slurp the sweet and sassy Pink Lady (Grand Canyon Distillery silver rum, Luxardo apricot liqueur, Triplum curaçao, simple syrup and cherry bitters) and the tiki-esque Painted Desert (Matusalem Platino rum, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, mango and lime juice). I also love the bar’s herbal spin on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail, the Bee’s Knees Lavender Sour ($14) – a blend of gin, honey-lavender syrup, lemon juice and pretty purple sugar. If Prince was a 1920s dandy, this would be his signature drink.
Whiskey lovers should skip to the Del Bac Cocktails page on the Last Drop menu. The bar’s titular cocktail, The Last Drop, features Tucson’s Whiskey Del Bac’s “Last Drop” private barrel whiskey, Luxardo apricot, sweet vermouth and blood orange. For a cocktail worthy of Ron Swanson, try the Overland Trout: bacon-fat-infused Del Bac “Clear” mesquite-smoked whiskey, maple syrup and Angostura bitters.
Bundle your orders to maximize happy hour savings with these two specials:
- The Last Drop Duo ($25): any two beers, draft wine or draft cocktails; one food item from certain pages on the menu
- Carafe & Cellar ($28): cheese and charcuterie board with house pickles and grilled bread; carafe of your choice of wine on tap
THE INSIDER SECRET
You can now order Pacheco’s legendary sizzling house bacon – house-made pepper bacon served on a smoking-hot cast-iron plate, drenched with a tongue-tantalizing mix of aged sherry vinegar and maple syrup and sided with toasted Noble bread – at dinnertime, not just at brunch (cue the confetti, streamers and bullhorns, this is a big deal, people!). The menu migration has me hopeful that you can order it on the Last Drop patio for happy hour, too. If so, they should change the name to heaven hour.
Happy hour runs daily from 4-7 p.m. Enjoy live music on the patio Friday and Saturday evenings.