Happy Hour

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Veranda Bar at L’Auberge de Sedona

Recommended Libation: No. 9 Negroni, $14
Drink More, Pay Less: Sorry, folks, but this is L’Auberge. In a setting like this, there are no discounts.

The Veranda Bar at L’Auberge de Sedona encompasses a chic indoor space, outdoor terrace seating with views of Oak Creek and a cozy, under-the-stars fire pit with plush chairs. Whatever mood you’re in, the bar has you covered, and the same goes for the cocktail menu. L’Auberge has racked up a list of awards for its extensive wine offerings, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Todd Brinkman, director of restaurants and wine, feels just as passionately about cocktails. “My job is rough,” he jokes. “I have to taste wine and beer and cocktails – a lot.”

Old-school cocktails à la Mad Men are all the rage in big cities, and the Veranda Bar is on top of the trend, but Todd has taken things to the next level. Our favorite drink at L’Auberge is the No. 9 Negroni; it has been aged in an American oak cask in the restaurant’s wine cellar for eight weeks, and you can taste that. Todd’s recipe for the classic includes Plymouth, Bluecoat and Genevieve gins; Cinzano, Boissiere and Vya vermouths; and Campari, Averna and Aperol amaros. Strong enough for you? This isn’t a cocktail for lightweights; however, it’s smooth and the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. Garnished with orange zest, the No. 9 works equally well as an aperitif or a digestif. Sip one of these babies within sight of Oak Creek, and revel in retro.

Veranda Bar at L’Auberge de Sedona, 301 L’Auberge Lane in Uptown (928-282-1661)

Martini Bar

Recommended Libation: Gingerpear Martini, $10
Drink More, Pay Less: Happy Hour, 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday; Sunday football, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

With more than three-dozen different martinis from which to choose, it’s amazing that Gary Wright, the bar manager at the Martini Bar, still receives special requests, but one local resident regularly stops in for a drink that’s not on the menu: a peppermint chocolate chip ice cream martini. It just goes to show that the sky is the limit at this West Sedona hot spot. Our drink of choice is the Gingerpear Martini because it’s not too sweet and it finishes with a pleasant bite. Made with Absolut Pear Vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, Canton ginger liqueur and Cointreau, it’s the perfect start to a sushi dinner (the Martini Bar is adjacent to Szechuan Chinese Restaurant). The tart cocktail is pale yellow in color and garnished with a lime.

Martini Bar, 1350 SR 89A at Old Marketplace in West Sedona (928-282-9288)

The Flap Bar at Mesa Grill

Recommended Libation: Desert Springs, $8
Drink More, Pay Less: Happy Hour, 3-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; locals’ night every Tuesday with drink specials all night

Grab a seat at the Flap Bar at Mesa Grill and take in one-of-a-kind views of the Sedona Airport runway, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte and Castle Rock. There’s a flat-screen TV, too, but if it’s still daylight outside, the action on the runway is infinitely more entertaining than anything on the tube.

Ed Gentile has been managing the bar since Mesa Grill opened in September 2011. It’s evident he likes to use fresh herbs in his cocktails – just take a look at the basil growing in the window behind the bar and the herb garden thriving outside the restaurant. Ed uses fresh mint in our favorite Mesa Grill cocktail, the Desert Springs. Served in a flared tumbler, the drink also includes muddled cucumber, Hendricks gin and ginger-infused Cognac served over crushed ice. He tops it all off with a splash of soda water for a sublimely refreshing libation. The cucumber flavor is prominent and, thanks to the muddled fruit, you get completely different flavors depending on whether you sip from a straw (sweeter) or drink over the ice (stronger). Ed says he likes to avoid mixing sweet drinks. “I like to keep the ingredients simple and pure.”

The Flap Bar at Mesa Grill, 1185 Airport Road in West Sedona (928-282-2400)

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