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.
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.
- 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.
350 E. Congress St., #110
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
902 E. Broadway Blvd.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Doña Flor – jamaica-infused mezcal, bergamot & lemon cordial, bitters, soda
- Sonorense – espresso, mezcal, mesquite syrup
Keep up with EXO Bar on Instagram.
100 S. Avenida del Convento #150
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.
- 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.
- Prickly Pear Margarita
- Oaxacan Old Fashioned – Agave de Cortez Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Angostura, orange bitters, orange
For more information, visit lacocinatucson.com.
256 E. Congress St.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
139 S. Eastbourne Ave.
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.
- 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.
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.
402 E. 9th St.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
3719 E. Speedway Blvd.
While Feast is known for wine, they also have an impressive bar with cocktails you won’t find anywhere else.
- 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.