Ditch the Jack & Coke. Try a craft cocktail at these 18 Tucson bars & restaurants…

Last modified on July 9th, 2018 at 10:56 am

Jägerbombs might be appropriate for wild nights, but drinkers who drink for the flavor will take a different route.

While bars with liquor offer cocktails, it takes an extra level of knowledge, quality ingredients, and even special ice to create something considered a craft cocktail.

Here’s our list of outstanding drinking establishments with bartenders that won’t stare at you blankly if you ask for a negroni.

47 Scott / Scott & Co.

47 N. Scott Ave.
(Photo Credit: 47 Scott/Facebook)

(Photo Credit: 47 Scott/Facebook)

47 Scott and next-door neighbor/sister establishment Scott & Co. has served as breeding grounds for some of Tucson’s best bartending talent.

The original trio of bartenders Ciaran Wiese, Connor Mansager, and Karl Goranowski helped Tucson’s craft cocktail scene explode into something beautiful. Wiese even helped the bar draw national attention from the New York Times in 2011.

While many of 47 Scott’s bartenders have become some of Tucson’s most influential bartenders at other bars, some of which are listed below in this article, 47 Scott still has top talent nowadays. With 47 cocktails on their menu and a team that can easily improvise beyond the menu, 47 Scott is a drinker’s paradise.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Brick House Old Fashioned – bacon-washed rye, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters
  • Saladito – Whiskey Del Bac clear, mezcal, honey, fresh lime, cayenne tincture

For more information, visit 47scott.com.

R Bar

350 E. Congress St., #110
R Bar (Credit: Louisa Moratti)

R Bar (Credit: Louisa Moratti)

Also hidden just off of Congress, R Bar is a favorite drinking spot among bartenders. Even though the sensual scarlet interior makes it look more like a dance club, the carefully-crafted cocktails are worth lounging around with to sip slowly.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • San Francisco – bourbon, ancho chile, tamarindo, absinthe, lemon
  • Sassafrazerac – rye whiskey, sassafras syrup, absinthe

For more information, visit rbartucson.com.

BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar

7109 N. Oracle Rd.
Terroir Julep at BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar (Credit: Matthew Martinez)

Terroir Julep at BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar (Credit: Matthew Martinez)

BIRD’s elegant-southern vibe is perfect for sipping on mint juleps and other classic cocktails. Their unique take on seasonal cocktails such as eggnog and mulled wine are always a pleasant surprise.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Terroir Julep – AZ Distilling Commerce Gin, bacanora, local honey, muddled rosemary, lavender oil, lemon oils
  • Peach Tea Old Fashioned – cardamom and black tea-infused bourbon, arrack, peach liqueur, turbinado sugar, milk-washed

For more information, visit fukushuconcepts.com.

Welcome Diner

902 E. Broadway Blvd.
Fall 2017 cocktails at Welcome Diner (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Fall 2017 cocktails at Welcome Diner (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Who would have expected a place known for its biscuits would also end up with one of Tucson’s best craft cocktail menus? The Googie diner transforms into an intimate space at night perfect for drinking. Beverage manager and 47 Scott alum Connor Mansager applies his extensive cocktail background to create fun drinks that booze snobs can appreciate.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Ojos Rojos – Whiskey Del Bac Distiller’s Cut, coffee, beet, savory chocolate
  • Post Post Cocktail – apple shrub, gin, aquavit

For more information, visit welcomediner.net.

Hotel Congress

311 E. Congress St.


While weekend nights at Congress are packed, try visiting earlier when it’s calmer and order one of their classics. If you’re used to the club environment there, you’ll appreciate the calm vibes even more.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Ghost Orchid – citrus vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon, creme de violette, peach bitters, ginger beer
  • Tree Shaker -Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Averna Amaro, Fratello Hazelnut Liqueur, Fee’s Walnut Bitters

For more information, visit hotelcongress.com.

EXO Bar at Exo Roast Co.

403 N. 6th Ave.

Mezcal enthusiasts will fall in love with the selection of almost 50 mezcals at Exo Roast Co.’s low-key weekend bar, EXO Bar. The carajillos, or espresso cocktails, make EXO the perfect place to begin a late night out, as long as it’s 5 – 11 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Doña Flor – jamaica-infused mezcal, bergamot & lemon cordial, bitters, soda
  • Sonorense – espresso, mezcal, mesquite syrup

Keep up with EXO Bar on Instagram.

Agustin Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento #150
Oysters at Agustin Kitchen (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)

Oysters at Agustin Kitchen (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)

AK’s bright cocktails pair marvelously with their wide selection of fresh oysters. The patio in the Mercado San Agustin is a beautiful setting for day and evening drinking.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Daphne Major – bourbon, liqueur a l’orange, apple vinegar, lemon, ginger
  • Common Descent – tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, Peychaud’s Aperitivo, lime, Angostura, cucumber, cilantro, Tajín

For more information, call (520) 398-5382 or visit agustinkitchen.com.

La Cocina / Dusty Monk Pub

201 N. Court Ave.

La Cocina and sister bar Dusty Monk Pub feature a laid-back vibe in their open patio with live music multiple nights a week. Don’t forget to take advantage of the late night taco bar.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Prickly Pear Margarita
  • Oaxacan Old Fashioned – Agave de Cortez Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Angostura, orange bitters, orange

For more information, visit lacocinatucson.com.

Elvira’s

256 E. Congress St.
Beverage manager Eric Harding at Elvira's Elevated Latin Cuisine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Beverage manager Eric Harding at Elvira’s Elevated Latin Cuisine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While the sleek lanterns and interior are what catch eyes walking by, come in and grab a seat at the bar for a creative cocktail. Beverage manager Eric Harding showcases the wide agave selection in creative margaritas and other interpretations of classics.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Elote de la Calle – Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Verde, roasted corn syrup, key lime
  • Tamarind Margarita – tequila, tamarindo pulp, Tajín chile rim

Keep up with Elvira’s Tucson on Facebook.

Good Oak Bar

316 E. Congress St.

Good Oak Bar focuses on local and regional whiskeys and agave spirits. The vibe is intimate and relaxed, even though it’s smack dab at the entrance of downtown. Their spicy fried pickles are worth their own article.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Smoky Negroni – unaged Whiskey Del Bac, smoked maple, Campari
  • Vaso de Rita – tequila, black lime, lime, dry curacao, citrus cordial, bitters, sea salt

For more information, visit goodoakbar.com.

OBON Sushi Bar Ramen

350 E. Congress St.

OBON craft cocktail program captures a level of detail and elegance in garnishes distinct with Japanese craft cocktail culture. However, they also don’t take themselves too seriously, keeping their signature fun spirit as well. Their adventurous attitude with Asian condiments adds a savory profile distinct from typical cocktails.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Tropical Depression – Dutch gin, rambutan-infused Scotch, lantern soy syrup
  • Sweet Leaf – prosciutto mezcal, shiso, sake, melon soda syrup, lime

For more information, visit fukushuconcepts.com.

Owls Club

236 S. Scott Ave.

Candle light, chandeliers, and a baby grand piano creates quite the moody drinking ambiance. Although the cocktail menu itself is small, beverage manager Bryan Eichhorst and the team can be trusted to whip up whatever classic you’d like. The massive whiskey list is also worth perusing.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Aspirational West – Irish whiskey, Amontillado sherry, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, absinthe
  • Tin Lizzy – gin, ruby port, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, honey, seltzer

For more information, visit owlsclubwest.com.

Sidecar

139 S. Eastbourne Ave.
(Credit: Sidecar)

(Credit: Sidecar)

Located near the geographic center of Tucson just doors away from sister restaurant Falora, Sidecar has the hip, modern vibe of a downtown bar without actually being downtown. The cocktail menu features original creations that show respect for the formulas of classic cocktails.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Kentucky – bourbon, citrus cordial, Italian vermouth, grapefruit, hop and angostura bitters
  • Rye Hanky Panky – cardamom rye, bitter vermouth, French vermouth, fernet, calvados, agricole rum, Burlesque bitters, mole bitters

For more information, visit barsidecar.com.

The Still

Secret Address
(Photo courtesy of the Still)

(Photo courtesy of the Still)

Send a text message to (520) 909-6299 to make a reservation at this hidden speakeasy. Operating hours are from 7 p.m. to close on Friday and Saturday.

Cocktail list changes every two weeks, so no suggestions here — follow your heart.

For more information, visit thestilltucson.com.

The Coronet

402 E. 9th St.
Hey Laaady! cocktail at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Hey Laaady! cocktail at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Coronet’s Fourth Avenue patio and live music create a lovely setting for early evening lounging. There’s something irresistibly charming about craft cocktails paired with plates of pierogi on on Thursday night.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Hey Laaady! – Broker’s Gin, Amontillado sherry, nutmeg, lemon, pineapple
  • The Rabbi Slept Late – Bols Genever Gin, Velvet Falernum, lemon, almond milk, vanilla simple syrup

For more information, visit cafecoronet.com.

Penca

50 E. Broadway Blvd.

Sister restaurant to Owls Club, Penca’s cocktail program is also managed by Bryan Eichhorst. However, these cocktails are primarily agave spirit-focused and more fruit-forward and refreshing. House-made pineapple tepache is a plus.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Bourbon & Tepache – bourbon, tepache, sweet vermouth, falernum, lemon juice
  • Jicaro – elote mezcal, maguey sap, lime juice, orange bitters

For more information, visit pencarestaurante.com.

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink / Tough Luck Club

101 E. Pennington St.

While Reilly has Italian cocktails, the Tough Luck Club downstairs is entirely focused on cocktails with fun, even snarky names such as Christmas Cards to Which I Don’t Reply.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Don’t Forget Your Roots #2 – aquavit, clementine juice, beet honey, jersey lightning, lemon juice
  • O.F. AF – Whiskey Del Bac classic, l’orange, pecan demerara, walnut liqueur

For more information, call (520) 882-5550 or visit reillypizza.com.

Feast

3719 E. Speedway Blvd.

While Feast is known for wine, they also have an impressive bar with cocktails you won’t find anywhere else.

Can’t-Miss Cocktails
  • Francophile – Grey Goose Vodka, Mathilde black currant liqueur, Dolin dry Vermouth, currant-stuffed Niçoise olives
  • Fruitcake – Matusalem Rum, Nocello, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, Stewart’s Cream soda, dried fruit garnish

For more information, call (520) 326-9363 or visit eatatfeast.com.

Have a craft cocktail fave we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.
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