Happy Hour

A toast to the 10 best cocktails in Sedona. Bottoms up!

 

BY ERIKA AYN FINCH. PHOTOGRAPH BY DEB WEINKAUFF.

So it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? While boutique wineries and craft breweries will always be popular, hold on to your fedoras because the cocktail hour is making a ferocious comeback. Afterall, who doesn’t want to spend an evening pretending he (or even she) is Don Draper? So grab your silk scarf and your trench coat, take a break from the holiday preparations and check out Sedona Monthly’s 10 favorite cocktails. We were delighted to find that local mixologists are embracing creativity, getting sexy and going retro. And you might be surprised by who (hint: a coffeehouse, an exclusive resort) is serving what (second hint: Cosmopolitans are out; today, Manhattans are much more Sex and the City).


.15quince grill and cantina

Recommended Libation: Spicy Güera Margarita
Drink More, Pay Less: Margarita Madness (half-price margaritas), all day on Tuesdays

Just about every restaurant menu in the Southwest – regardless of the eatery’s cuisine – features margaritas. But finding a margarita that really stands out can be difficult. Not at Jerome’s .15quince grill and cantina, where the only difficult part was choosing a favorite from a long list of creative concoctions. Several members of our party were partial to the Miracle, which features tequila, cranberry juice, Cointreau, floating chunks of watermelon and a large basil leaf as a garnish. The Frida Kahlo made with pomegranate tequila is equally drinkable, but in the end, it was the Spicy Güera that won our hearts because it’s so unique. How often do you get the chance to order a drink that bites you back?

The güera (Spanish for “white girl”) is made with plenty of Tanteo jalapeño tequila, Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur), fresh pineapple, and sweet and sour. A slice of jalapeño floats in the glass, which is rimmed with red chili salt. It’s the chili salt that really gets you, so sip this from a straw if the spiciness becomes too much, though we never found it to be overwhelming. The pineapple gives the drink a nice balance.

.15quince is tiny, and so is the wood bar, which faces a flat-screen TV. But that’s part of the charm of this restaurant as is the live music on Saturday nights. We love the tin ceiling and the artistically painted skulls, especially the wall of cow skulls. When visiting Jerome, take a break from shopping, skip the biker bars and sip a world-class margarita at .15quince.

.15quince grill and cantina, 363 Main St. in Jerome (928-634-7087)


Hundred Rox Lounge at Amara Hotel

Recommended Libation: Amara Zen-Tini
Drink More, Pay Less: Relaxation Hour, 4:30-6 p.m., daily

What’s the saying about tasting with your eyes before you savor with your taste buds? If that’s true, then it doesn’t get any more enticing than the Amara Zen-Tini. The martini glows a bright green while a red cherry floats at the bottom of the glass, which is rimmed with purple rock sugar and garnished with a cucumber slice. This is the perfect cocktail for those who like something on the lighter side. The drink is made with raspberry vodka, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice and Sprite. “Since we remodeled the resort, it has a relaxed, chill vibe,” says Nathan Lannan, bar supervisor. “We wanted our drinks to reflect that. This Zen-Tini is exotic but drinkable year-round. It’s refreshing and light, but it’s not just a poolside cocktail.”

Hundred Rox has multiple options for enjoying your Zen experience. There’s the bar in the restaurant or the ultramodern lounge near the restaurant’s entrance. It features plush couches and chairs and drink tables that resemble bongo drums. Head outdoors and enjoy your cocktail on the patio that faces Oak Creek and Amara’s new infinity pool. The water features and fire pits add to the tranquility of the space, and the views of Snoopy Rock and the Crimson Cliffs invite you to relax and stay awhile.

Hundred Rox Lounge at Amara Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, 100 Amara Lane in Uptown (928-282-4828)


Heart of Sedona Coffee

Recommended Libation: Hwy 93 Espresso-tini, $9
Drink More, Pay Less: Happy Hour, 5-7 p.m., daily

One morning, we walked into Heart of Sedona, ready to order our favorite lavender mocha, when we did a double take at the beer taps at the espresso counter. Alcohol at a coffee shop? Yep. Located adjacent to Pita Fresh, the coffeehouse began serving beer, wine and cocktails this summer so diners could add a little kick to their schawarma. Regardless of whether you’re dining next door, we love to chill out with a drink and enjoy the mellow, coffeehouse vibe. The cocktail menu – with its tongue-in-cheek title, “spirits of the heart” – combines organic coffee and homegrown herbs with small-batch liquor.

If you’re a coffee drinker, you definitely want to try the Hwy 93 Espresso-tini. Bar Manager Josh Robbins, who has been mixing drinks in Sedona and Portland, Ore., for 15 years, says it’s his best-seller. The strong cocktail is made with dark rum from Desert Diamond Distillery in Kingman, Ariz., as well as Kahlua and cold espresso (decaf available upon request). It’s served in a martini glass with an espresso foam and garnished with a coffee bean. We’re also fans of the Green Tea Margarita, which is not on the menu but occasionally available as a special. The margarita is a frozen blend of organic teas, raw simple syrup and El Charro tequila. Hit Heart of Sedona on a Saturday night when Josh lowers the lights, candles flicker to life and a DJ plays music until 1 a.m. It’s a coffeehouse for the new millennium, and we’ve become regulars.

Heart of Sedona Coffee, 1370 SR 89A at Old Marketplace in West Sedona (928-282-5777)

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