By Marilyn Hawkes
Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon? Groth Hillview Vineyard Chardonnay? Yeah, we’ll tap that – literally, thanks to the innovative vino vending machines at Sorso Wine Bar, which feature 32 ever-changing wines on tap.
But it’s not just the novelty of fermented grape juice from a spout that makes Sorso special. For those who’ve had long day at the office or an exhausting afternoon soothing cranky toddlers, Sorso Wine Room at Scottsdale Quarter provides a stylish space to catch your breath, spread your proverbial wings and enjoy some first-rate happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m.
If you’re feeling friendly, pull up a chair at one of the communal tables or snag your own in the airy dining room replete with low-slung booths and metal chairs, exposed light fixtures, wood accents and industrial-chic exposed-pipe ceilings. Peruse the electronic menu (displayed on a tablet) and choose from two-for-one glasses of house pour wines, half-off bottles of house pour wines or two-for-one draft beers. The hook? You can order both glasses at the same time, but the server will deliver them separately so you get a fresh glass when ready. The catch? Two-for-ones are per person, so it’s not a buy-one-for-me, get-one-free-for-you deal for pairs or couples. But servers are attentive and they always make sure to get your last-minute order before happy hour ends.
While you’re sipping (Sorso means “sip” in Italian), enjoy live music – typically a crooning guitarist, playing at just the right volume so you can still have a conversation with your tablemates. The room has a sophisticated, contemporary vibe reminiscent of big-city bars and if you close your eyes, you might imagine you were in Chicago or New York – minus the honking taxi cabs, of course.
The happy hour food menu includes three for $10 bruschetta with a choice of Gorgonzola and honey; goat cheese and olive tapenade; roasted red tomatoes and avocado; sun-dried tomato pesto; and arugula and pesto with feta and tomatoes. All choices are top-notch thanks to the crunchy toasted bread, but the creamy and tangy goat cheese paired with the salty tapenade really tingles the taste buds, as did the garlic-studded sun-dried tomato pesto topped with spicy arugula.
Other good happy hour choices: half-off the ortaggio plate, a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and hummus ($6); and half-off a trio of house dips and grilled, crusty crostini bread ($5).
While not a happy hour special, the wine-on-tap makes a fun foray – just insert a self-serve card similar to a hotel key, place your glass underneath the displayed wine of your choice, push the button and get a sample (1.5, 3 or 6 ounces) to roll around on your tongue. It’s a great way to try out new wines without making a commitment to a full glass or bottle. No need to worry about how many samples you’ve imbibed – the card keeps a running tab.
Sorso stocks more than 150 varieties of bottled wines in its cellar, and for beer drinkers, Sorso pours 14 different craft brews. It also features a weekday lunch special with lasting merit: From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., select any salad or sandwich on the menu and a glass of wine or draft beer for $15. And if you can’t drink at lunch, Sorso will let you defer your drink until after work. All you have to do is bring your lunch receipt. Now that’s a long, fine finish.