The scene inside White Cloud Hookah is both intimate and party-like. Throughout the modern space, groups sit around double-nozzled hookahs and pass hoses to puff on one of the 120 flavors of aromatic tobacco. They can take pulls on tobacco varieties from brands such as Al Fakheer, Starbuzz, and Fantasia, and can even blend flavors to create their own flavor creations. Big screen TVs flash as music fills the space with party beats and dim lightening gives the space a chill, nightlife atmosphere.
The spring-loaded trampolines and high-flying activities at Airworx’s brightly colored 27,000-square-foot center launch visitors of all ages high into the air. Families can duke it out at the dodge ball court to determine who sits in dad’s comfy chair, and kids younger than 7 spring from age-appropriate trampolines and crawl over a 20-foot inflatable structure in the Shooting Stars area. Airworx’s nightclub-quality sound system and bouncy floors leave visitors breathless as they simulate Jordan-esque dunks amid rows of basketball hoops or challenge friends on the 140-foot trampolines to see how many backflips it takes to travel back in time. Besides open bouncing, Airworx also opens up colorful private rooms for birthday parties, and an elevated DJ booth personalizes the tone of unique corporate and group events.
Amid plush leather booths and dim red lights, smoke billows from hookah pipes, wafting soft scents of watermelon and mixed fruits over patrons nodding heads to DJ-spun tunes. This laid-back ambiance is par for the course at Crave Cafe & Lounge, where Mediterranean influences meet American style to create a trendy and mellow atmosphere for dining or partying, earning it the title of Best Hookah Lounge 2011 from Voice Places. Crave’s chefs cook up a menu of Mediterranean-inspired fare, including the greek burger—a simmering layer of gyro meat topped with feta cheese and cucumber. A full bar slings more than 15 bottled beer selections and nightly specials noted by Voice Places, such as The Best Bloody Mary You Ever Had and the Crave Mango Creation, Crave’s own secret recipe starring Absolut Mango. Spirits also find their way to tables via VIP bottle service, and a house breathalyzer machine allows patrons to measure their BAC to determine if they’ve enjoyed one cocktail too many or their blood-hummus level to determine if they've legally become a chickpea.
Just past the vault door lies The Mint’s most valuable treasures: trays of expertly crafted cocktails and martinis. Housed in 7,000 square feet of a former bank building, The Mint nods to its previous life with money-themed drinks and rich, Asian-inspired tapas from a menu conceptualized by the restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Chu. Small plates of loganberry shrimp, wasabi sliders, and flash-fried sugar-cane pork take their place at booths cut with dark wood and cohiba marble or along seats at the main room’s 30-foot bar. Drinks include The Mint, a mélange of Grey Goose La Poire, star fruit, mint, and lemon, and Liquid Gold, which pairs a pineapple-infused vodka with Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon, and raspberry, all heated to 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit. After fueling up with comestibles and drinks, diners can explore the patio’s cabana-style seating or take a break with some bubbly at the coed bathroom’s champagne bar.
Phoenix chef Christopher Gross is something of a local legend, having pulled in a James Beard award for his upscale French cooking. At his eponymous Christophers Restaurant, the star chef plates up dishes like a lobster pot pie or wood oven pizza, topped unexpectedly with duck confit, goat cheese and figs. But even amid the sleek, upscale bistro setting with a glass-encased kitchen, he keeps things fun, peppering the menu with playful bites like an excellent burger that’s topped as you wish. At Crush Lounge, next door, the mood is sexier, with loud music, a busy bar and small plates like roasted rabbit salad or a house smoked salmon “BLT” sandwich, each to be paired with the restaurant’s list of over 50 by-the-glass wine choices. Stick around long enough and chef Gross might emerge from the kitchen himself to check in on your table with a handshake and a smile.
Blue Martini's eponymous cocktail might be the first on their list of "classic" martinis, but those ordering it shouldn't expect it to look traditional. For starters, it's not clear, but blue (of course). It also eschews the usual glassware, arriving over ice in an oversized snifter rather than a martini glass. The drink gets its hue from a dose of Blue Cura?ao, and its taste from a blend of vodka, Cointreau, and orange juice, a mixture patrons can continue to stir with the glow stick that comes propped inside the glass. Blue Martini is able to take such liberties with their libations because they've created 40 unique specialty martinis, a list that draws from flavor inspirations as varied as cucumber, caramel, and sour apple. There's even four different "skinny" martinis, which weigh in at less than 250 calories each.
It's not all martinis, though; bartenders are adept at crafting limitless cocktails, popping bottles of champagne, and pairing guests with selections of red and white wines almost exclusively from California. To keep their drinks company, guests can order from a succinct, yet diverse menu of dishes including a beef tenderloin flatbread and seared tuna with an Asian seaweed and calamari salad. The upscale, sizable environs at each Blue Martini location make them ideal party venues; in fact, hosts can even treat their guests to bites from party platter menus designed to feed up to 400 people or one really hungry garbage disposal.