Lounges and Wine Bars
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Dark, sleek, and sexy, the Merc Bar (2525 E. Camelback Rd., 602/508-9449, www.mercbar.com, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. Mon.–Fri., 6 p.m.–2 a.m. Sat.–Sun.) is Phoenix’s finest watering hole, a chic, modern lounge that exudes quiet elegance. Softly lit lanterns and flickering votives reflect off the bar’s polished copper tables, creating a warm glow and the ambiance of a hidden Manhattan speakeasy—though this bar is tucked into the Esplanade Center at 24th Street and Camelback. You’ll find well-heeled locals, Scottsdale party girls, and guests from the neighboring Ritz-Carlton sipping glasses of Veuve Clicquot and aged Scotch. In all, the mix of expensive cocktails and seen-and-be-seen preening can be quite pretentious and a whole lotta fun.
In-the-know Phoenicians have made the Clarendon Rooftop Bar (401 W. Clarendon Ave., 602/252-736) one of their favorite hangouts, particularly at sunset when the city seems to glow and the sky is streaked with oranges and reds. The mod lounge, which is perched on the eastern roof of The Clarendon Hotel, features a view of the Phoenix skyline that few watering holes are able to top. The bar is closed in the summer, and hours vary throughout the year, so be sure to call ahead.
Bomberos Café & Wine Bar (8801 N. Central Ave., 602/687-8466, 7 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–1 a.m. Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.) is one of those neighborhood hangouts that regulars love to take their friends to. Owners Oscar and Kristi have converted an old North Phoenix firehouse into a hip, laidback wine bar, featuring polished concrete floors, large garage doors that open onto the sidewalk, and a cozy back patio with comfy couches and a fire pit for cool evenings. Bomberos means “firemen” in Spanish, and Uruguay native Oscar brings a bit of South American flair to the diverse selection of wine and beer. Order a refreshing glass of the white La Playa and sample the bruschetta. I’ll probably be next to you enjoying the same thing.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition