Best of the Valley 2022 Cocktail Spotlight

Editorial StaffJuly 1, 2022
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Best Classic Margarita

Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant

There’s nothing especially fancy about this Midtown Mexican institution, but if you’re looking for an unfussy (and budget-friendly) margarita, Mi Patio is the place. For less than a five-spot (an extra-large marg is $4.99), you can indulge in a no-frills nightcap, and don’t be surprised if your server brings out some of Mi Patio’s signature margarita shots on the house. 3347 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-277-483,

Mi Patio margarita. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Mi Patio margarita. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Best Mezcal Cocktail

Smokey the Pear at Santé

Mezcal, the marvelously smoky agave spirit that seems to be showing up on all the cool kids’ cocktail menus lately, is the foundational spirit in this wonderfully balanced concoction from tony Scottsdale tyro, Santé. The cleverly named cocktail uses Rayu mezcal, which lends a light smokiness to fruit and citrus notes courtesy of spiced pear and ginger liqueurs, lime and simple syrup. We love the simplicity of a good Oaxacan old fashioned, but when it comes to more creative and complex mezcal cocktails in the Valley, Smokey the Pear is peerless. 15507 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-687-3189,

Sante. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Sante. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Best Culinary Use of Cleaning Materials

Little Rituals  

Led by mixology maestro Aaron DeFeo, the cocktail geniuses at this Downtown Phoenix bar use an industrial-grade, ultrasonic jewelry cleaning machine to micro-agitate and deeply infuse ingredients – mezcal and lime leaf, to name two – in a drink called the Pleasure Island, one of eight new concoctions on their summer menu. Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott, 132 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-603-2050,

Little Rituals jewelry cleaning machine for cocktails. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Little Rituals jewelry cleaning machine for cocktails. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Little Rituals Pleasure Island. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Little Rituals Pleasure Island. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Best Cosmo


You know how much you hated the Sex and the City reboot? That’s how much we love the Cosmo at Melrose hot spot Valentine. This is not Carrie Bradshaw’s cocktail. Instead of cranberry juice, the vodka is paired with hibiscus and pomegranate. But the thing that really kicks this one over the top is the hint of cinnamon. You’ll find none better – even in NYC. 4130 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-612-2961,

Best New Cocktail Bar

Garden Bar PHX

Who says cocktail bars should be dark and masculine? Not cocktail book author Kim Haasarud, who has created a light-filled, faintly feminine haven in a vintage bungalow replete with patio, porch and lawn. Meanwhile, her garden-to-glass cocktails – sophisticated yet playful – contain exotica such as pandan, CBD nano-tincture and marshmallow. 822 N. Sixth Ave., Phoenix, 602-612-4438,

Best Tiki Drinks


This “Best of” is sort of like awarding Best Austrian Action Star to Arnold Schwarzenneger. Not exactly stop-the-presses material. But with a brand new drink menu coming out this summer, and a second location opening in Gilbert’s Agritopia, the obvious absolutely needs to be repeated: This maritime-themed cocktail playground is the Arnie of tiki cocktaildom. 3626 E. Indian School Rd., 602-739-1388,

Best Old Fashioned


Catering to the volume-consumption lad-on-lad drinking scene, this patio bar on 16th Street might seem an unlikely BOV cocktail winner. But consider that it’s a 10-year Whistle Pig Old Fashioned. And consider that it’s under $20, an unheard-of good deal for hooch that fine. Bottoms up, boys! 3702 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-266-9001,

Best Creative Margarita

Sake Haus

Sometimes you can’t beat the classics – we won’t contest the perennial popularity of old-school Corvettes and “Hotel California.” But we do appreciate deftly done modern riffs on classic cocktails. Take the lychee margarita from Sake Haus, a newcomer in the rapidly expanding Roosevelt Row dining and drinking scene: Lunazul blanco tequila mingles with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, fresh lychee and lime for a floral and acidic twist on the standard tipple – a new classic. 214 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 602-218-6734,

Best Surprisingly excellent Piña Colada

Revive Spa at JW Marriott Desert Ridge

Sure, it’s a traditional spa with the requisite facials, massages and mani/pedi offerings. But the real treat is the – surprise! – piña colada from the spa café. Rich, creamy, touched with fresh pineapple and topped with real shaved coconut, it’s a perfect slow-sipper for lounging at the serenity pool. 5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix, 480-293-3700,

Revive Spa pina colada. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Revive Spa pina colada. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Best Specialty Martinis


From the Pornstar Martini (vanilla vodka, passionfruit, lime juice and a groovy shot of Champagne) to the potent espresso martini (vodka, Kahlúa, Irish cream, crème de cacao, and a bold shot of espresso), the venerable Scottsdale outpost knows how to serve liquid therapy. More than a dozen signature (and reasonably priced) martinis populate the menu here. Toss back a Summer Solstice with Cointreau and raspberry vodka this July and embrace the summer heat with a smile. 7353 E. Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, 480-994-5576,

Best Negronis

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

And best martinis. And best daisies. And best mezcal cocktails. And just about the best everything, actually. One of only 10 finalists for Best U.S. Cocktail Bar at the 2022 Spirited Awards (i.e. the Oscars of cocktails), this Downtown gem from mixology pope Ross Simon kills it on all fronts. But it’s his special attention to the sublime art of Campari-based drink mixing that we most prize. Stanley Tucci would be proud. 1 W. Jefferson St. Phoenix, 602-777-3298,


28 S. San Marcos Pl., Chandler,

  • Sip a margarita out of a ceramic saguaro or a bacanora-based cocktail from a colossal seashell.
  • Feel like a kid again and soak in the schoolyard theme.
  • Plenty of places to pose with your drink – perhaps next to the back end of a school bus jutting out of the wall, on the swing seats at the outdoor bar, in front of a blooming bougainvillea bush or while playing lawn games.

Photo by James Deak
Photo by James Deak

903 N. Second St., Phoenix,

  • Take the fishbowl concept to new depths and enjoy a prickly pear cocktail out of a conch shell.
  • Allow yourself to get lost in the South Beach vibe. Slurp a mojito out of a Chinese-restaurant-style to-go box.
  • Snap the obligatory selfie by the neon sign – a hallmark of any nouveau aesthetic bar worth its margarita salt.

Photo courtesy The Palma
Photo courtesy The Palma