Khla, ghost donkey, halfway crooks


Downtown Phoenix is ​​full of great places to grab a drink. Craft breweries offer creative drafts, a host of quirky cafes offer caffeinated fixes, and wine bars are great for sipping after work. And recently, the downtown cocktail scene has taken on a new lease of life with the opening of three bars in the Roosevelt Row arts and entertainment district.

A cocktail haven now serving agave spirits on Second Street is the newest of four internationally acclaimed venues, joining Denver, Las Vegas and Auckland, New Zealand. Up the street, the team behind Killer Whale Sex Club has a new concept. And finally, a well-known Phoenix mixologist has opened an Asian-inspired cocktail bar that draws on his heritage.

Some are bustling, some are under the radar, but all of these places are exciting additions to the downtown drink lineup. Here are three new downtown Phoenix cocktail bars to try soon.

Order again from Ghost Donkey

A donkey statue shines in a beam of light at the newly opened Ghost Donkey in downtown Phoenix.

Part of a trio of recently opened concepts, including Palma Restaurant and Cham Pang Lanes Bowling and Bar next door, Ghost Donkey is easy to find. The bar’s red glow spills over Second Street at night, and inside garlands of twinkling pink and red lights cover the ceiling. Red neon signs add to the moody mood.

A trio downtown:A champagne bowling alley, an oasis of palm trees and an open ghost donkey on Roosevelt Row

Ghost Donkey specializes in agave spirits like tequila and mezcal, as well as harder-to-find varieties like sotol, raicilla, and bacanora. About a dozen cocktails make up the menu, which includes a large drink option for two to four people.

The music is loud, the lighting is dim, and the drinks are strong at this bar, making it a lively addition to the downtown nightlife scene. Ghost Donkey is currently accessible only.

Details: 903 N. Second St., Phoenix.

Pair of tartines and tipples at Halfway Crooks

Candied lemon gem salad at Halfway Crooks, a new cocktail bar in downtown Phoenix.

A new concept from the team behind Killer Whale Sex Club, a few blocks away, Halfway Crooks is located on the northeast corner of Fifth and Roosevelt streets. The bar specializes in “wine, cocktails, hip-hop and sandwiches,” according to its website.

On the menu, a beef and tuna tartare, four varieties of thick and seeded sourdough bread or a brioche, two salads and two desserts. Pair snacks from the bar with a glass from the extensive wine list or one of seven original cocktails made with a wide selection of spirits or one of ten classic sips, priced at $16 and $12 respectively. Reservations for two-hour time slots are available online.

Details: 504 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix.

More in Roosevelt:Here’s your guide to the vintage-themed underground cocktail bar Rough Rider

Try Asian-inspired cocktails at Khla

Tyka Chheng performs a Days of Thunder on March 7, 2022 at Khla, 218 E. Portland St. in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tyka Chheng mixed drinks from a laundry list of different bars and restaurants in Phoenix. With friends and business partners Colton Brock and John Sagasta, he opened Baby Boy at the Pemberton last year and now the team has opened Khla.

Decor sets the tone with black-painted walls, white-lined murals, and rows of lanterns hanging overhead. The cocktail menu is inspired by the flavors of Southeast and East Asia and includes drinks made with Filipino rum, Thai chili-infused mezcal and Japanese vodka.

Khla, which means tiger in Khmer, is Chheng’s favorite project. It is now open on Portland Street in downtown Phoenix, right next to Lom Wong, a new Thai restaurant. Have dinner at Lom Wong and drinks at Khla or mix and match with Lom Wong drinkable snacks available to order from the bar.

Table reservations are available online and bar seating is open to walk-ins.

Details: 218 E. Portland St., Phoenix.

Off the beaten track: A cocktail superstar has opened a bar in a historic Phoenix home

Contact the reporter at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorrison Facebook at Rose Tirion and on Instagram at tirionrose.

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