Phoenix’s new migrants are shedding their taste for beers and shots and seeking out more mature, sophisticated beverages when they are in the mood for some nightlife.
They want Vodka Martinis. Or a Martini with anything fruity. And anything that comes in a really, really large glass.
In the last 20 years, Phoenix’s population has exploded with the arrival of West Coasters fleeing the high cost of living and housing. They are often young professionals, many of them refugees from the dot-com world with money and a taste for the trendy drinks they tasted on both Coasts.
They are joined by the young and struggling from the Rust Belt who seek plentiful jobs and sunshine. Finally, the tourists, retirees and snowbirds come from around the world, bringing money and a willingness to try something new on vacation.
The more leading, cutting edge bars/lounges that cater to the older, affluent crowd are located in Scottsdale, an upper-class northeastern suburb.
MARTINIS, EVERY WAY
These are sleek, well-designed facilities meant to attract 30-45 year-old professionals. The look is defined by lots of glass, subtle lighting and gleaming metal. The music: jazz/world mixes. The biggest drink: Martinis in every form, usually flavored.
The Merc Bar is typical. No sign, just a tiny plaque out front alerting upwardly mobile customers who drink Martinis and wine while nibbling on cured meats and cheese board appetizers.
What do they drink? “Whatever is hot at the time; sweeter Martinis, usually vodka-based,” said Carson Quinn, assistant manager.
Also popular at the Merc Bar is the Mojito, but the sweetest favorite is the Vacation Martini (Bacardi Vanila, Midori, pineapple juice and sour mix) and the Carson City (made with Absolut Citron, amaretto, sour mix and orange juice).
A lounge that attracts more local celebrities is 6, cited by InStyle and Esquire magazines as the local place to be seen. Fairly new on the scene is The Crown Room, where drinks come in larger sizes–either 15-ounce or 18-ounce glasses. Popular choices on the menu include the Pomegranate Martini, Thin Mint Cocktail and Ridge 3 Valley Zinfandel.
YOUNG AND LOUD
While these lounges seek to emulate trends on the Coasts, the Pussy Cat Lounge flaunts a cheesy Las Vegas ambiance, with dancing poles for customers to entertain themselves.
The Pussy Cat Lounge is part of the Scottsdale club scene that seeks young and monied customers. Many of these are restaurant/bar/lounge combos which can evade licensing, neighborhood and regulatory hassles associated with bars that serve only alcohol.
The Kazimierz World Wine Bar
Some of the other establishments in Scottsdale that cater to the younger crowd and exploit the Martini theme are AZ88, the Martini Ranch, Sugar Daddy’s and the Devil’s Martini. The latter serves Sex and the City, made with Absolut Mandarin, Amaretto Disarrono, peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry juice; and the Soprano, with Campari, triple sec, Absolut Mandrin and a shake of OJ. Other selections: The Turner, which is Stoli Razberi with triple sec and lemon juice, or the Kaiser Soze, shaken with Stoli Vanil, Kahl