Deserts may historically be barren places with little to drink, but Phoenix has done much to create an Arizona oasis of skilled mixologists, unique bar vibes, and overall some of the best cocktail bars in the country. FICKS has had the pleasure of exploring many of the cocktail bars around Phoenix, and we've whittled them down to our favorite five cocktail bars in the area. Whether you're grabbing a margarita cocktail to beat the desert heat or looking for speakeasy crafted tipples, there's a place for you in Phoenix.
Bitter & Twisted
Located inside the former Arizona Prohibition Headquarters (yes, really), Bitter & Twisted is a legendary downtown spot that’s been racking up local and international acclaim since 2014 for its extensive lineup of drinks and inviting atmosphere. And it's not just us who love this cocktail bar, it was actually named a Top 10 Cocktail Bar in America by Tales of the Cocktail in 2022. The mixologists here are a refreshing balance between artistic skill and a fun, unpretentious attitude.
Pigtails (Downtown Location)
Talk to any cocktail lover that's lived in Phoenix long enough and Pigtails will come up as a required stop for a drink. We're fans of their downtown location given the cozy yet modern atmosphere that actually lets you enjoy conversation along with your cocktail. We like ordering a cold brew shot before really kicking off the night, or nursing a Femme Fatale bourbon cocktail on a cold desert night.
The newest cocktail bar on this list, Highball has quickly made its presence known in the Phoenix bar scene. We came here on the typical hot Arizona day to seek refuge in their upstairs, cavernous cocktail den. It's almost hidden in the style of a speakeasy behind a Pei Wei, and totally worth the find. Come here with a group for comfortable group seating but make sure to have a reservation. The best cocktail we enjoyed at Highball was the Devil Knows, a refreshing tipple characteristic of the Arizona desertscape with its blend of tequila, watermelon and bite of jalapeno pepper.
OK Garden Bar gets two pictures because we didn't want you to think we'd included a residential property listing on this list by mistake. If you're driving through Garden Bar's Phoenix neighborhood you'll likely miss it as it's built into a residential home in a residential neighborhood, but don't miss these cocktails. Despite it's quirky concept (which we're actually fans of), local cocktail icon Kim Haasarud shows with her new concept that the best drinks can often be hiding in unlikely places.
In addition to serving well executed 1920's era cocktails, the experience of Platform 18 is truly one of one. Those windows you see in the photo above? Those are actually television screens that simulate the train journey you'll take during your time sipping cocktails at Platform 18. So while it feels like you're moving and looking out at snowing mountains passing by, you and your delicious cocktail are in fact still in sunny Arizona.