Marking the new year usually involves resolutions to get to the gym more, eat healthier, and save money.
While all are great options, another one to consider is to get out and explore Arizona, whether that be a day trip north to Jerome, down south to the caves, or to the culinary scene right here in the Valley.
To start the year off right, we rounded up some of the unique bars around the Valley that you should add to your 2017 bucket list...
UnderTow is an underground tiki bar that serves premium rum-focused cocktails. The 500-square-foot bar was built within an old vehicle oil bay and has 26 seats. The ambiance is that of a 19th-century clipper ship. The lighting is dim, white lattice illuminates the handcrafted wood bar, and port holes and background music give the illusion that you're out at sea. Because of the bar's small space, reservations are highly recommended.
The same people behind UnderTow also own Counter Intuitive, a high-end cocktail lounge in Scottsdale. (Also worth checking out.)
IF YOU GO: 3620 E. Indian School Road (beneath Sip Coffee & Beer House); www.undertowphx.com
The Ostrich is located beneath Crust, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria, in downtown Chandler. The basement bar has a speakeasy feel and serves premium craft cocktails. The lighting in dim, the decorations are vintage and the booths are the exact ones from the now-closed Monti's La Casa Vieja in Tempe. The story goes that there are tunnels that lead to the iconic San Marcos Hotel from The Ostrich and that founder Dr. A.J. Chandler stored ostrich feathers there years ago. Regardless, The Ostrich makes a mean vesper.
IF YOU GO: 10 N. San Marcos Place, Chandler AZ 85225; www.crustrestaurants.com/ostrich
BITTER & TWISTED COCKTAIL PARLOUR
Bitter and Twisted is housed within downtown Phoenix's historic Luhr's building. The cocktail parlor serves premium cocktails using whatever spirit you prefer -- vodka, gin, tequila, mezcal, whiskey -- and are both classic and trendy, but also innovative. One drink is served in a honey bottle! It's a perfect fit for the cocktail connoisseur and the casual drinker. The space transports you back in time to when cocktails were enjoyed and not slammed.
IF YOU GO: 1 W. Jefferson, Phoenix AZ 85003; https://bitterandtwistedaz.com
COBRA ARCADE BAR
If you're a fan of classic arcades then Cobra Arcade is a bar you have to visit at least once. Cobra has 40 retro arcade games, including Rampage, Simpsons Bowling, Donkey Kong, and Tekken Tag Tournament. The bar menu is not as extensive as others. However, they do have 14 beers on a tap, more in cans, and a handful of cocktails. For this bar, the arcade is the focus.
IF YOU GO: 801 N. 2nd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004; http://cobraarcadebar.com/
HONOR AMONGST THIEVES
Honor Amongst Thieves is a cocktail lounge in central Phoenix that sits atop Stock and Stable near 7th Street and Missouri Avenue. The atmosphere is dark, while its wood bar stands out. The drink menu features a variety of classic and innovative cocktails, and a heavy whiskey list.
IF YOU GO: 5538 N. 7th Street, Phoenix AZ 85014; www.honoraz.com
Located in downtown Chandler, The Brickyard is a classy yet relaxed bar and restaurant. For me, the brick walls, vintage lighting and back-lit wooden display behind the bar, set it apart from others. The 15-page cocktail menu features classics like a Dark & Stormy or the bitter Negroni, as well as variety of house creations. If you're hungry, they offer shareable plates, too.
IF YOU GO: 85 W. Boston Street, Chandler AZ 85225; www.brickyarddowntown.com
The Womack is one of the newest cocktail lounges to the Valley (it opened September 2016) and pays homage to Chez Nous, a Phoenix nightclub that shut down a few years ago. Gold wallpaper and large booths line the walls and a giant mirror hangs over the bar. The menu features true cocktail classics: martini, sidecar, gin rickey, old fashioned and amaretto sour.
IF YOU GO: 5749 N. 7th Street, Phoenix AZ 85014; www.thewomack.us
The Lost Leaf/Nnamdi Solomon
THE LOST LEAF
Located in the heart of Phoenix's arts district, The Lost Leaf is a low-key hangout that serves beer and wine. The building was built in 1922 and the original floors and brick are still there. The Lost Leaf is community-focused and has a relaxed atmosphere making it an ideal spot to talk about the thoughts of the day, or the latest poem you read.
IF YOU GO: 914 N. 5th Street, Phoenix AZ 85004; www.thelostleaf.org
Step back into a modern-day version of the 1960s at Phoenix Sidebar. Up the stairs is a quaint bar with a groovy-ness going on. Large couches, pendant lights and an LED frame. The exposed brick and wood floors give it an urban feel. The drink menu features beer, wine and several specialty cocktails, including the Sidebar Collins, Retro Cooler and Butterscotch Martini.
IF YOU GO: 701 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix AZ 85007; www.sidebarphoenix.com
The Mystery Room
THE MYSTERY ROOM AT ARIZONA BILTMORE
Step back in time to the 1920s where men wore suits socially and women dressed as flappers. During Prohibition (the banning of alcohol in the United States), illegal social areas (speakeasies) began to pop up. One such place was The Mystery Room at The Arizona Biltmore. The liquor cabinet was disguised as a bookcase just in case a raid happened suddenly. The Mystery Room still exists and is open periodically. They typically announce the "pop-up" day-of and via Twitter at @ArizonaBiltmore. They also reveal the password needed to get in.
IF YOU GO: 2400 E. Missouri Avenue, Phoenix AZ 85016; www.arizonabiltmore.com
OTHER UNIQUE BARS:
- Second Story Liquor Bar, 4166 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale AZ 85251
- The Bees Knees at The Camby Hotel, 2401 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix AZ 85016
- MercBar, 2525 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix AZ 85016
- DCM Bar (at Desoto Central Market), 915 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix AZ 85004
- Welcome Diner (restaurant first, it has a small bar inside a 1940's Valentine Diner), 10th and Roosevelt streets