Best Afterhours: The Artisan
Whether it’s because Artisan Afterhours is hassle-free or tourist-free (or both), the gothic hot spot still dominates the late-night hours as the go-to place to keep the party going. DJs are able to dig deeper into underground sounds where the music and vibe takes precedence over selling bottles. You’re pretty much guaranteed to run into industry buddies chilling on the patio with a hookah as the sun rises. And even though it gets packed on weekends, you’ll never encounter that annoying door hold in an effort to make the place look busy or sketchy hosts trying to give you the shakedown. 1501 W. Sahara Ave., ArtisanHotel.com.
Most Sophisticated Pre/Post: Gold Boutique Nightclub & Lounge
Before hitting the gym for a strenuous workout, your trainer will advise you to warm up. And before hitting the showers, you need to cool down. As your personal nightlife trainer, Vegas Seven prescribes a proper pre/post in the dark, opulent environs of Gold to prepare you for a vigorous night of partying at Haze. Here you’ll become acclimated to sophistication, cocktails and proximity to sexy people. Most of the lounge’s decorative allusions to Viva Elvis disappeared with that Cirque du Soleil show, and thankfully, no snakes, spiders or tennis balls have been incorporated since the arrival of Zarkana just down the hall, so if Haze is not on your itinerary, Gold is the best warm-up or cool-down for seeing the show, as well. You wouldn’t want to pull a hammy either way. In Aria, LightGroup.com.
Best Local Headliner: Tabú Ultra Lounge
Sure there are plenty of local DJs spinning up and down the Strip—some even have parties named after them. But the party that truly embraces and highlights the spinner who is front and center is Forbes Fridays. Bay Area native Eric Forbes worked his way up the ranks from being a Studio 54 bartender back in the day to the weekly headlining gig at Tabú. Taking a cue from his last name, Forbes Fridays comes complete with his face on faux bills, so even the most non-baller can make it rain and feel like a million bucks for at least one night. In MGM Grand, AngelMG.com.
Hottest Makeover: Lily Bar & Lounge
Taking what works and making it bigger isn’t just a great idea, it’s our birthright as Americans. So Light Group did what any red-blooded American nightlife company would do and in February it unveiled Lily, taking the former Caramel space at Bellagio, expanding it and making it even more plush and cozy. The only more American improvement than that? Throwing steak at it. Wait, you can order off the Fix menu? God bless this country. In Bellagio, LightGroup.com.
Best Hip-Hop party: The Beatles Revolution Lounge
Now that the lines of genres in club music are beyond blurred, you can at least guarantee you’ll get a healthy dose of real hip-hop on Thursdays at Revolution. And we’re not just talking about the music, but the accompanying culture as B-boys and girls get down with the Good Foot crew in the dance challenge, surrounded by graffiti art. Open bar for ladies until midnight is always a bonus, too. In The Mirage, Mirage.com.
Best Cocktails: Savile Row
A perfect Manhattan, served up in an elegant piece of glassware is a great accessory for that custom suit or chic satin dress. In a bustling nightclub, it can also be the demise of both. Nightclub bartenders tend to encourage simple cocktails that stick to the [spirit]-and-[mixer] formula that saves them time and you dry-cleaning expenses. However, within the attractive and petite Savile Row you can have your craft cocktail and hot DJ sounds, too. Under the watchful eye and tasteful palate of lead bartender Ray Srp (also a portfolio mixologist for TEAM Enterprises—think Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose), Savile Row offers a menu of cocktails that would easily fit into a mixology bar. Like a bespoke glove. In Luxor, AngelMG.com.