Choose your own adventure at this new Tempe bar and speakeasy (2024)

When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste or in this case, First Sip,as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants and bars that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Building a concept within a concept is all the rage in the dining world right now. In a sprawling metropolis like Phoenix, it makes sense. Crossing a room instead of town to try a new spot has its appeal. And, it allows places to be more things to more people.

Take Devil’s Hideaway and Idle Hands, the latest project from Julian Wright, the restaurateur behind Sake Haus, Lucky’s Indoor Outdoor and Pedal Haus Brewery.

The dual bars opened on Mill Avenue in March. The more casual, walk-in-only Devil’s Hideaway replaces the revered Irish pub Rula Bula. The elevated, reservable hidden co*cktail lounge Idle Hands takes over a former vape shop. Both spaces were designed by architect Wesley James, who created the immersive, whimsical looks of Century Grand and UnderTow. With two distinct spaces with their own personalities, the bars play well together or alone.

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The inspiration for Devil’s Hideaway is old-world European ambiance. The brick walls are curved, with little arched nooks carved out for horseshoe-shaped booths. A weaving installation of tube lighting casts a macabre glow on the space.

Sara Crocker

Details of the Devil

Wright’s inspiration for Devil’s Hideaway is old-world European ambiance. The brick walls are curved, with little arched nooks carved out for horseshoe-shaped booths. A weaving installation of tube lighting casts a macabre glow on the space, giving steampunk-imbued “Ninja Turtles” in a good way.

At first glance, Devil’s Hideaway seems primed to cater to the student and recent grad sets with Montucky Cold Snack tall boys and Jell-O shots.

But, the bar has more than cheap, fast ways to get buzzed. You’ll find espresso martinis, spaghett – a Champagne of beer spritz that churches up a Miller High Life with Aperol and lemon – and local craft selections, including Huss Brewing Co.’s delightfully tropical Pineapple Pink Haze IPA.

There’s also a short menu of bar snacks including poutine, pulled pork sliders and a birria cheesesteak. And, with a pool table and Skee-Ball, Devil’s Hideaway is the kind of spot where you could while away a lazy afternoon into the evening.

Elements of the menu and the vibe aren't dissimilar from Wright's downtown Phoenix spot Lucky's but feel right at home in Tempe.

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Tucked inside Mill Avenue bar Devil's Hideaway, Idle Hands transports guests to an enchanted greenhouse.

Sara Crocker

Step into an enchanted, moody greenhouse

But, there’s more in store. Look out for the mural of a woman, eyes closed, head arched to the sky, balancing a skull on her forehead while clasping a bottle of absinthe. Painted above are the words Idle Hands.

Next to the mural a dark hallway beckons. Step through to find an enchanted greenhouse with vines climbing across the walls.

The red hue of Devil’s Hideaway melts away in favor of a deep blue that bathes Idle Hands. An evening scene in a forest is projection-mapped across the faux windows and vaulted ceiling of the greenhouse. Deer, packs of wolves and little fireflies, or perhaps spirits, quietly move their way through. It’s intriguing and oddly calming, much like Idle Hands’ co*cktails.

The menu features more than a dozen spirited options, all identified by numbers and ranging in price from $14 to $16. For a craft co*cktail in this town, that's becoming a bargain.

co*cktail #401 is tropical and nutty. The rum-based drink is light, with zip from quince, grapefruit and lime, balanced by the warmth and richness of allspice, clove, turmeric and Brazil nut.

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The menu at Idle Hands features more than a dozen spirited options, all identified by numbers. Among them are the #5, a clarified milk punch, and #21, the bar's riff on a spicy margarita.

Sara Crocker

The clarified milk punch, #5 on the menu, is Idle Hands’ most popular drink. The menu's tasting notes highlight chai and apple, powered by a sherry blend, bitter aperitif, amaro, fig, lemon, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger and bitters. It did taste strongly of an autumn cider, but quickly gave way to a cloyingly floral potpourri.

The menu also includes a section with boozier sips. The #12 infuses a negroni – a classic, spirit-forward bitter co*cktail – with earthiness and warmth from coconut and star anise. While subtle coconut added a silkiness to each sip, the balance between the bitterness and sweet cherry was the drink's focus.

The #21 is Idle Hands’ take on a spicy (or not, depending on your preference) margarita. The heat comes from chiltepin, and while the menu also noted palo santo as an ingredient, it was hard to find amid the citrus and spice.

Other co*cktails that beg for a second visit include #4. Described as “buttery, baked goods,” the tipple includes cognac, apricot, grapefruit oleo, butter and thyme. There’s also an elevated espresso martini, the #2, which adds chicory, spiced pineapple, cacao, amaro and pan dan to the trendy co*cktail.

Although Idle Hands resides inside of Devil’s Hideaway, the bar and its co*cktails stand on their own. Each bar has a distinct personality and offerings, making both worthy of a visit – alone or as a duo.

Devil’s Hideaway and Idle Hands

401 S. Mill Ave., Tempe

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Choose your own adventure at this new Tempe bar and speakeasy (2024)
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