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Tempe, Arizona, is, first and foremost, a college town. While it has grown over the years as Arizona State University has expanded, much of the city’s drinking culture understandably caters to those who have recently turned 21. Many Tempe bars tend to be for those looking for a big night out on a budget. That said, as the city has evolved, more cocktail bars have been opening, including rooftop bars in Tempe’s newest hotels. Here are my favorite bars if you’re looking for a quality drink in Tempe.

The Best Cocktail Bars in Tempe

Arizona Distilling Co

As you may have guessed from the name, Arizona Distilling Co. is a distillery. It’s also a bar serving cocktails made from their spirits.

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The distillery started operations in 2012, making it the first legal distillery in Arizona since Prohibition. Their core spirits, Copper City Bourbon, Mission Vodka, and Commerce Gin, can be found in cocktail bars in Tempe and all over the rest of the Valley.

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Their Tempe cocktail bar & tasting room is a dimly lit spot with a wood bar, leather furniture, and Arizona-themed art on the walls. When I visited, electropop was playing on the stereo. There is also pizza from Pizza Sloth.

Arizona Distilling Co. offers flight boards for those interested in tasting their spirits on their own. Bottles are available for sale, too, of course.

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The bar also serves classic cocktails and house concoctions known as Old Walrus Originals, which also doubles as a bar name. On weekdays, there are happy hour deals on classic cocktails from 4 pm to 6 pm.

First, I had the Chai Rye, which was like an old fashioned but had a lovely hint of chai. It contained Copper City Single Barrel Rye, Chai, Brown Sugar, Island Bitters, Orange Oil, & Nutmeg.

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Then I had the Liger’s Tail, which is made from Copper City Rye, Allspice Dram, Pineapple Demerara, Lime, & Aromatic Bitters.

Arizona Distilling Co has also opened a 2nd production facility and tasting room in downtown Mesa, which is quickly becoming an excellent place for drinks due to its breweries, bars, and cidery.

Address: 601 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

Culinary Dropout

Culinary Dropout is a massive bar & restaurant with a bit of everything. There are TVs for watching sports as well as bar games.

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In addition to beer & wine, Culinary Dropout has signature & classic cocktails, including some non-alcoholic options. I’ve visited for beer, & I’ve also visited for cocktails. They also have happy hour specials.

I enjoyed the Peaches & Rye, a refreshing cocktail consisting of Savage & Cooke rye, Combier pêche liqueur, puréed peach, & wild mint.

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The food menu is straightforward comfort food, including typical bar bites as well as meat and cheese plates.

The spacious restaurant has several rooms, including a holiday-themed back bar during the winter season. It’s easy to see why the concept has rapidly expanded to be a small chain.

Address: 149 S Farmer Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

Terra Tempe Kitchen & Spirits

Terra Tempe Kitchen & Spirits is located in The Westin Tempe. The ground floor hotel bar looks fairly standard (including a TV showing sports), but their unique signature cocktails are some of the most original in Tempe.

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In addition to their own cocktails & a large spirits selection, there’s wine and a draft beer menu that includes Tempe favorites such as The Shop, Huss, and Four Peaks

I opted for the Champiñon Old Fashioned, since I like a good umami cocktail.

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The Westin Tempe also has a rooftop bar called Skysill. 

Address: 11 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

The Hudson Eatery & Bar

The Hudson is one of my favorite bars in Tempe. It’s a bar near the ASU campus that never seems overrun by college crowds. It’s a great sports bar.

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Although I usually go there for their craft beer selection, they also have a nice list of custom cocktails, including barrel-aged old fashioneds.

Be sure to go hungry, as their food is also great. The pastrami burger is one of the things I’ll be sure to return for.

Address: 1601 E Apache Blvd, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

Fat Tuesday

I had to include one classic college bar on my list. Fat Tuesday has been a Tempe nightlife mainstay for as long as I can remember, certainly since I was in college.

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Most Mill Avenue bars change frequently, but not Fat Tuesday. It’s been serving New Orleans & Mardi Gras cocktails for decades.

Address: 680 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

The Best Rooftop Bars in Tempe


Alibi is the rooftop bar at the Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown. The bar is split between 2 outdoor sections and an indoor section. One part of the bar is poolside. Pool passes are also available for non-hotel guests.

The 14th-floor bar has fantastic views of the Superstition Mountains and Mesa to the east and southward to the rest of Tempe.

The house cocktails lean tropical. Some include local spirits, such as those from Arizona Distilling Co. I enjoyed El Jefe, which was made from Ilegal Mezcal, prickly pear, and lime.

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I also had seared ahi and some fries. The food menu at Alibi specializes in Asian & Mexican fusion, including Taco Tuesdays. I would have ordered the tacos & a discounted margarita had I realized it was Tuesday, but I thought it was Monday.

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The rooftop bar also hosts DJs, pool parties, market popups, brunches, and board game nights.

The Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown also has a good ground-floor bar called Alter Ego.

Address: 108 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

Lucero Rooftop Lounge

Lucero Rooftop Lounge is located on the 16th floor of the new Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU.

The bar is split between two areas, about half indoor and half outdoor. The outdoor area has fire pits and heaters for colder nights.

Inside, the spacious bar has tall windows that allow tons of sunlight.

Lucero Rooftop Lounge has an astronomy theme, with a full food menu focused on the moon’s phases. There’s also a telescope in the corner.

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The rooftop bar has fantastic views of Mill Avenue, Tempe Town Lake, Papago Park, and Camelback Mountain to the north. To the west, you can see Sky Harbor Airport and downtown Phoenix. It’s a great place to sit and watch planes on their final approach if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy, like I do. In my opinion, Lucero has the best views of any Tempe rooftop bar, certainly from the high-quality ones.

There are a couple of projector screens for those less inclined to watch what’s happening outside. On my visit, one showed episodes of The Office, while the other showed SpongeBob.

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Lucero’s signature cocktail menu has eight regular drinks and two mocktails. I had the Desert Sunset, along with the smoked tuna dip.

Address: 7 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map)

Here are some other great Tempe tours & activities.

Need a place to stay? Check out these Tempe hotel options. I usually stay at the Hyatt House/Hyatt Place Tempe / Phoenix University, which is conveniently located right on the ASU campus, or the AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Tempe/Downtown. The Tempe Mission Palms is another one of my favorite places to stay to experience a piece of historic Tempe. The hotels with bars listed above are also well-rated.

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