Super High End
Mandarin Oriental Bar
When you get done being dazzled by the view from the 23rd floor—and believe us, it’ll take awhile—what you’ll start to notice is an attention to detail that would make a German automaker blush. The bar staff operates with an exacting precision. Only top-shelf bottles are on display, while bartenders do all their mixing out of view in a side room. It’s not cheap (signature cocktails run about $20), but it’s well worth bringing a lady friend to set the mood early in the evening. (Hint: Let her try the Smoke & Mirrors.)
5 p.m.-1 a.m. Sun-Thu, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri-Sat, in the Mandarin Oriental, 590-8888, MandarinOriental.com/lasvegas.
Dive-y and Lively
It’s been sporting casual cool since 1963, though it’s hard to tell these days, tucked into an old, anonymous stucco strip mall. It is easy to spot since it’s connected to Decatur Drugs, which is replete with a dining counter and daily specials written on a dry-erase board. If you can swing with that, then walk on in and hang with retired cops in gray Members Only jackets and out-to-pasture change gals with tall hair who line the bar. The mixed drinks are fine—never worry about your whiskey sours lacking whiskey—and the cheap drafts (just $1.75 during happy hour) don’t hurt Decatur’s reputation. Oh, and the elevated bar tables and stark lighting only accentuate the Spillane-esque feel of this place.
Happy hour 3-6 p.m. weekdays, 546 S. Decatur Blvd., 870-2522.
For the Sports Fan
32 Degrees Draft Bar
If a sports book has a bar, it’s generally a no-frills afterthought. Here there are 96 thoughtfully selected beers on tap and they’re brought to you by smart, amiable and often attractive bartenders in sports jerseys. (Trust us: Jay Cutler never looked so good.) And for some actual frills, sit at one of the tables surrounding the bar and the aforementioned draft beer will be brought to you by the book’s spunky and voluptuous wait staff. The bonus is that there’s good food nearby (including this hot little deal: 18-inch pizza and 60-ounce pitcher of any draft beer for $18). And, oh yeah, there’s sports, as seen on the all-out big-screen blitz—and you can wager on the games just a few yards from your stool.
24/7, in M Resort, 797-1000, Ext. 6015.
Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis
If you just like to sit and listen—comfortably with a stiff drink, and without a gaggle of tourists or loudmouth schnooks—this is your place. The grand piano sits against the far wall of the swanky steak house’s spacious lounge, so you can keep the music ambient if you want. But this music is good—especially on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when three-year-regular Peter Love performs—so we want to set our martini (half off 5-7 p.m. daily) on the counter that snakes around the piano and pull up a white-leather chair. We love Love because he’s more than a piano monkey who can play name-that-love-tune; he’ll also slip in a set of acoustic guitar. Because sometimes on a late Friday night, against the clatter of the casino just outside the door, you need a soulful rendition of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush.”
Live entertainment 5:30-10 p.m. Sun-Thu, 5:30-11 p.m. Fri-Sat, in Green Valley Ranch, 2300 Paseo Verde Drive, Henderson, 617-7075.
Frankie’s Tiki Room
OK, maybe we shouldn’t call it a kitsch bar. This stylish and doggedly traditional tiki lounge, the half-Polynesian love child of Double Down Saloon owner P Moss, goes past high kitsch and into lowbrow art. Virtually everything inside—the hand-carved tiki idols and booths, the custom-made tiki mugs—is directly inspired by Don the Beachcomber, Aku Aku and other great tiki bars of the past. Kitsch? Not hardly. Frankie’s Tiki Room is a Museum of Modern Intoxica, and its drinkable exhibits will knock you on your Krakatoa.
24/7, 1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 385-3110, FrankiesTikiRoom.com.
If we could have a redo on our home’s patio, it’d look just like the Roadrunner on Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road. This little outdoor escape built of stone has all the elements of backyard fun (fire pit, mini bar, television, shade, mature vegetation) without those pesky responsibilities of homeownership (i.e., serving and cleaning up after your friends). And all of it comes together rather organically, unlike many contrived outdoor spaces around town. There’s nothing better than sitting out there on a spring evening, sipping a tall Shiner Bock and deliberating between the Dr Pepper Marinated Tacos and Cowboy Barbecue Plate.
24/7, 2430 E. Pebble Road, 948-8282; 9820 W. Flamingo Road, 243-5329; 921 N. Buffalo Drive, 242-2822, RoadrunnerLasVegas.com.
Best of the Irish
McMullan’s Irish Pub
Last year, Vegas Seven picked this as the best pub of the Irish bunch, and we’re standing by it. We did retest the subject and found its attributes too numerous to ignore. McMullan’s is the most comfortable authentic Irish-style pub in town, featuring live nightly music, weekly bar quizzes, daily beer specials (including a Beer of the Day for $4) and bartenders who—with a spring in their step—know how to pour a pint. (Ahem, not everybody does.) What’s more, the cozy pub has tap tables, a variety of private/public drinking spaces (including a separate one for the draw-poker smoker crowd) and hosts myriad community-minded events (such as the recent St. Baldrick’s fundraiser). What we like most is McMullan’s versatility: One weekend they’ll host the pregame for Wranglers hockey fans, the next they’ll be the home of Iowa football. 24/7, 4650 W. Tropicana Ave., 247-7000, McMullansIrishPub.com.
While most college bars are busy pushing $1 PBR or serving rubbing alcohol disguised with cranberry juice, the Freakin’ Frog is pouring frosty pints from one of 15 featured taps or pulling hard-to-find microbrews from its fully stocked coolers. This bar takes beer seriously and has a menu of more than 1,027 varieties available at present. It isn’t just the overwhelming selection of beer (now the largest in the country) that brings people into the Frog; the menu of classic bar food and a tendency to book all the best local bands help. The Crack N Cheese Triangles are deep-fried morsels of mac-and-cheese goodness that are addictive (hence the name). The bar also features the Whiskey Attic, where a more discerning set can sample one of the largest stashes of whiskies in the country handpicked by the Frog’s owner, Adam Carmer, who also happens to teach classes on beer and liquor at UNLV.
11 a.m.-late., 4700 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 8, 597-9702, FreakinFrog.com.
Downtown Cocktail Room
Mustachioed bartenders? Check. A small, well-groomed selection of high-end and artisan spirits? Check. An ever-evolving, on-point seasonal cocktail menu showcasing avant-garde mixology trends and original creations? Check and check! DCR owner Michael Cornthwaite knows what adventurous cocktailians want and he gives it to them. Staff is always one step ahead of the season, working on the next menu from the moment the new one goes into effect. New products are carefully assessed before they are added to the tiny, jam-packed liquor shelves. The monthly Mixology Monday series brings together in-house talent with visiting and local bar stars, exposing cocktail aficionados and neophytes alike to the DCR cocktail culture.
4 p.m.-2 a.m. Mon-Fri, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat, 111 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 880-3696, TheDowntownLV.com.
Lobby Bar at the Royal Resort
Chic hotel lobby bars remain an urban tradition Las Vegas has yet to fully embrace. There are some notable spots (Rumor, the Artisan, Vesper at the Cosmopolitan) but not since the Algiers’ classic lobby bar has a place with the understated cache of the Royal attracted those looking to escape to Vegas past. If rolling up feels like a Diamonds Are Forever time warp, wait until you step inside, where gleaming white marble, exotic art and sculpture, and brass light fixtures are a mash-up of Viva Las Vegas and Fun in Acapulco. Local impresario Ryan Pardey held his Christmas Day bash here, while DJ Rex Dart, revered for his work at the Double Down Saloon and Frankie’s Tiki Room, spins on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The U-shaped bar is worked by a barkeep hailing from the Hard Rock, and the tabletop shuffleboard and sit-down video game console are nods to the past it so pleasantly evokes. With renovations coming to the pool and restaurant, watch for the Royal to be the cool spot for locals looking for a low-key break from the Cosmopolitan.
8 a.m.-midnight Sun-Thu, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri-Sat, 99 Convention Center Drive, 735-6117.
Sure, you can go to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and pick up a randy tourist on a sugar high any night of the week. But Blue Martini is where locals go to pick up locals. It has the luxurious but laid-back vibe of a spot that’s nicer than a bar but chiller than a club. Three separate rooms allow for bountiful flirtation opportunities. The Town Square location helps weed out visitors. And with a selection of 42 martinis, studs and studettes can also enjoy something a little more sophisticated than a red slushie while scoping the scene.
4 p.m.-3 a.m. Mon-Thu, 4 p.m.-4 a.m. Fri, noon-4 a.m. Sat, noon-3 a.m. Sun, in Town Square, 949-2583, BlueMartiniLounge.com.
Elicit Hookup Bar
Oh-so-very-unique and from another time entirely is the cavernous Fireside Lounge, secreted behind the Peppermill’s diner. Within, couples in the making and breaking canoodle in booths almost entirely obscured by faux-liage, devilishly illuminated by flat-screens showing concerts as the lights play off the disco-mirrored ceiling. Drinks are exotic, cliché and forever entombed in the ’70s and ’80s (when was the last time you enjoyed a Pink Squirrel?) as is the water/fire fountain, an enduring romantic notion lifted straight from a Superman movie. There is simply no place better to cuddle up with a superhero. Or, alternatively, a villain.
24/7, in the Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge, 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 735-4177, PeppermillLasVegas.com.
Book & Stage
Turning its spotlights on with soul singer Mayer Hawthorne, Book & Stage is reminiscent of a classic lounge during Vegas’ glory days. A sports book by day, the intimate spot is an open area on the casino floor, allowing any bystander to stop and hear the music. The stage is the best thing to happen to live music in Las Vegas, not just because of its unbelievable lineup, which has included Aloe Blacc, Foster the People and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but the bands typically play two shows per night and perform for four nights. The lounge is small and friendly enough that fans have the opportunity to meet and greet the stars.
24/7, performances at 10 and midnight nightly, in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7939, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.
The Library at Marquee
Part fraternity house, part mixology den, part Ivy League stacks—it’s a combo that does the trick every time. The Library bar occupies the top floor of the Marquee nightlife/day-life complex and serves a discerning subsection of clubber. With a roaring fireplace, supple leather seating, book-lined shelves and a bar menu that will hijack your attention from even the sexy librarian getups on the servers, the Library is soigné to the extreme. When the in-room DJ cranks up the Dewey decibel system, class is in session.
9:30 p.m.-5 a.m. Fri, 9 p.m.-5 a.m. Sat, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Mon, in the Cosmopolitan, 333-9000, MarqueeLasVegas.com.
Herbs & Rye
Bar owner Nectaly Mendoza is everything you would expect from a neighborhood bar owner: warm and welcoming, beloved by his regulars, and he knows his way around a cocktail. Mendoza’s west-side bar and restaurant has become a second home to industry members and locals who show up in force to dine on tasty Italian bar eats and sip authentic re-creations of cocktails whose recipes hail from history’s greatest bartenders. Historically accurate, the menu forgoes modern brand interference in favor of rich description and a sense of place and time. We recommend starting with a Brandy Crusta, then moving on to a Bees Knees before finishing with a Blackthorne.
5 p.m.-2 a.m. Mon-Thu, 5 p.m.-3 a.m. Fri-Sat, 3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036, HerbsAndRye.com.
It’s been the undeniable center of attention at the Cosmo since the moment it opened in December, redefining and utterly eclipsing the typical casino center bar. Just an ice cube’s throw from the resort’s nightlife venues and restaurants, the Chandelier is like a vortex, pulling patrons in to its three-story world of mixology, DJs and sociability. The queen bee at the center of this buzzing hive of activity is GM/property mixologist Mariena Mercer, who incorporates her own winning concoction—as well as those of her compatriots Kristen Schaefer and Andrew Pollard—into her menu of imbibables.
24/7, in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7979, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.</p>
Dino’s has several attractions: cheap suds, pool tables, capable bartenders and—wait for it!—the most festive and freewheeling karaoke ever discovered by a rumbling loudspeaker! The dynamite location encourages everyone—from knowing regulars to curious tourists—on Las Vegas Boulevard to stroll in and absorb the low-key sincerity. For three nights a week, Dino’s gives a broad welcome to anyone to try their pipes at the mic. The music genres (we’ve heard anything from metal to country to ‘80s new wave) make anyone game. Do you deserve any more than this?
24/7, karaoke 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Thu-Sat, 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 382-3894.
No pictures, please, no pictures … This fairly well-hidden lounge rides the fine line between respecting the club membership’s need to party in relative privacy and any venue’s obvious need for marketing and promotion to survive. Still in just its preview phase, Savile throws weekly parties in honor of fabulous notable locals and their fabulous causes. Soon, 250 of the worthy ones will be grandfathered in as members, after which memberships will be granted solely by committee. Members will then access Savile via a dedicated door, while the remainder will present themselves to gatekeeper Mike Diamond, who sorts the wheat from the chaff. Our sincerest condolences to the chaff.
10:30 p.m.-6 a.m. Fri-Sat, 11 p.m.-4 a.m. Wed, in Luxor, 262-4529, SavileRowLV.com.
Pull up a stool at the front of N9NE Steakhouse, turn around and watch the show. Recent guests to the Palms stable include Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, World Series-winning Giants pitcher Sergio Romo and Jamie Foxx, who didn’t win any kind of sporting championship recently but is probably looking to add that to his résumé. UFC head Dana White is a regular. If you go, make sure to check out the latest from mixologist Dave Herlong, who stays on top of seasonal cocktails, sure, but has also tailored drinks to fit ersatz celebrations like National Margarita Day and Frank Sinatra’s birthday.
5:30-11 p.m. weekends, 5:30-10 p.m. weekdays, in the Palms, 933-9900, N9NEGroup.com.
It’s a place for men. Robust, manly men drinking robust liquors and smoking robust cigars, while sporting robust moustaches. Casa Fuente sports 50 kinds of cigars under the Arturo Fuente label, 32 scotches, 28 other whiskies and another 17 high-ticket scotches and cognacs on its Black List. So named, we suspect, because you’d have to be a pirate with a chest full of booty to catch a robust, manly drunk off the selections there. They range from a 30-year Ballantine at $55 to the insane $1,100-a-pour Glenfiddich 50. If you can scrape together the dough, though, it will rewire your brain as you drop through a rabbit hole of complex and potent flavors.
10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun-Thu, 10 a.m.-midnight Fri-Sat, in the Forum Shops at Caesars, 731-5051.
It’s not just that you’re sucking in the smoke of a zillion cigarettes going back to 1969. It’s not just that your significant other only spent nine bucks on you over the last five rounds. It’s that you’re getting broken up with while heinous karaoke crimes are being committed to Tonic’s “If You Could Only See” for minutes that stretch like months. The real salt in the wound? Everyone else around you is having a time.
24/7, 3557 S. Maryland Parkway, 737-1699, ChampagnesCafe.blogspot.com.
Enter this dress-up Aria restaurant, a showcase for star Chicago chef Shawn McClain, through the lounge, where the bar is topped in rich black granite. Beautiful bartender Leann Kruger was mixologist Francesco Lafranconi’s star pupil, and she mixes a mean Aviation peppered with sassy conversation. Mayor Goodman and visiting chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten are frequent visitors, here to taste items from a terrific bar menu, including Wagyu beef tartare, or a Warm Goat Cheese Crostini that goes great with any of the bar’s many single-malt scotches.
5-11 p.m. Mon-Sat, in Aria, 590-7111.
Nora’s Wine Bar
The Enomatic—a French contraption that dispenses wine from opened bottles by the ounce while keeping them vacuum-sealed for freshness—is all the rage at upscale wine bars in Las Vegas, giving the customer a lot more flexibility. Nora’s has three stocked with 16 wines each, such as the excellent Ribolla Gialla ’07 from Jermann at $16 a glass. The terrific bar menu, by chef Giovanni Mauro, includes arancini (deep-fried Sicilian rice balls) and a soothing pappa al pomodoro soup. No wonder this place is as much social club as local watering hole.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun-Thu, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri-Sat, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 940-6672, NorasWineBar.com.
No one is going to confuse this space with a hotbed of handcrafted mixology, but its drinks do come in a specific way sure to please those looking to start out their night with buzz firmly in place: Big. Add the prospect of ginormous libations to the roster of its 31-week Rock the Roof battle of the bands (starting March 17), and Diablo’s gives you a place to rally before you decamp to Haze, Marquee, Rok, Studio 54 or Tabu. You’re even in stumbling distance of The Bank and Chateau—just put away that 44-ounce ’rita before you try to slip past a bouncer.
Restaurant 11 a.m.-11 p.m., bar open till 2 a.m., 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 730-7979, LightGroup.com.
Home Plate Grill & Bar
When the table-service bottles finally run dry and the nightlife industry needs to unwind away from all of the hustle and bustle on the Strip with a late-night cocktail or nine, many find themselves at Home Plate enjoying the pizza, video games, full arcade and often times substantially generous shots. Home Plate’s convenient location near Interstate 15 and industry-friendly nighttime bar staff ensure this local hot spot as one you will almost always find someone to gossip with about all the things that happened at your nightclub throughout the week.
Bar 24/7, dining 9 a.m.-6 a.m., 4785 Blue Diamond Road, 875-4663, GoHomePlate.com.
Fun Hog Ranch
When last we checked in with Vegas Seven’s experts on the LGBT party scene, promoter Eduardo Cordova and promoter/DJ Lisa Pittman were pretty united in their choice of Fun Hog as the place to be—and they still are. “Located on Twain and Paradise, it’s a fun, interactive, campy place with darts, games and cheap drinks,” they wrote, awarding the Ranch the Best Gay Bar nod in Seven’s inaugural nightlife issue (Dec. 23). “It’s like a gay PT’s!” Extra points are to be awarded for website’s promotion of the venue’s “exposed wood” in a “rustic atmosphere.”
24/7, 495 E. Twain Ave., 791-7001, FunHogRanchLV.com.
Dimly lit, yet widely stocked, you will find here the best selection of beer available anywhere downtown. Plus, the Griff has barkeeps with little discretion for the welfare of your liver. It is one of the few places to go where you are comfortable among all walks of life, lawyers next to junkies next to poets, the ideal pre-madness pint, the perfect post-mayhem nightcap, and, incidentally, the inspiration behind The Griffin Rule: Quite simply, when you get a person’s number in any bar that resembles the Griffin, you do not call them the next day. Period.
9 p.m.-3 a.m. Sun, 5 p.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Sat, 511 E. Fremont St., 382-0577.
You may not even find a parking spot in the packed lot this karaoke nightclub bookends with the sadly floundering Forbes KTV, once a major attraction in these parts. After 11 p.m., Café Moda is a darkened Filipino supper club, dotted with dining tables (and people actually seated at them) craning their necks to watch either an extremely good or extremely bad karaoke performance. Trays of delicious, exotic smelling things sweep by the bar. Most nights the crowd is Southeast Asian—largely Filipino—and Pacific Islander though posters of Latin nights wallpaper the entrance by the fireplace. But on weekends, the feel is that of some exotic, far-East port of call, a nightclub unlike any on the Strip and a chance to hear all the same club tunes (with lasers and fog!) between sets.
4 p.m.-4 a.m. Sun-Tue, 4 p.m.-5 a.m. Wed-Sat, 3400 S. Jones Blvd., 220-4488, CafeModaLV.com.
Sitting directly in the epicenter of the cougar-haven that is Summerlin, Kona Grill has a distinct advantage over its competition in this category. Its proximity to the cougar’s natural habitat combined with a reverse happy hour that brings in its preferred prey makes it the perfect stalking grounds for a lady on the prowl. The best time to spot the notoriously nocturnal cougar is during Kona Grill’s reverse happy hour from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m.-midnight on weekends. This is when the Grill’s expansive patio is crowded with young men looking to save a few bucks and knock back a $7 sake bomb or two before going home or moving on to another location. They can be found often lurking at the bar, looking much younger than their natural 40 and over and more often than not wearing something bedazzled. They often travel in pairs and prefer to order happy hour wine over their prey’s traditional sake bombs. If it’s Wednesday and Kona is thin on the cougars they have a tendency to gather at the runner-up in this category, Rosemary’s, for the half-price ladies night on Tuesdays. If even Rosemary’s disappoints, third runner-up Nora’s Wine Bar is right across the street.
Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m., in Boca Park, 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 547-5552, KonaGrill.com.
Queen Victoria Pub
In the heart of the Riviera hotel-casino sits a tribute to decadence, opulence and ostentation. Alright, so it’s just the cracking new British boozer, aptly titled the Queen Victoria. Top grub, top totty (ask an Englishman) and ample space for a big night with a large crew or an intimate cheeky night out with the bird—you’re covered at the Vic. Just superb for watching sports—obviously plenty of soccer, TVs everywhere!—or playing sports (read: darts). So get down your local and get the pints in. Bottoms up.
Open 24/7, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 794-9260, QueenVicLV.com.
Rum Runner Lounge:
If you’re looking for a little healthy competition between friends, we picked out the best bar to rack ’em up, tee-off or hit the bull’s-eye. Located near the UNLV campus, Rum Runner has seven pool tables, a foosball table, shuffleboard, darts, shuffleboard bowling, Golden Tee Arcade 2011 and even a pinball machine. Bonus round: They’re known for their burgers and a good selection of cheap beer.
24/7, 1801 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite 7, 736-6366, RumRunnerVegas.com.