No, Casino was not shot at this legendary dive, but Robert De Niro supposedly dropped in during filming (probably either hoping to soak up some of that Vegas mob vibe or looking for a café, which doesn’t really exist). 3557 S. Maryland Pkwy., 737-1699, ChampagnesCafe.blogspot.com.
If there’s anything better than Tom Colicchio’s menu, it’s waiting to peruse it at his bar. It’s a long, handsome number that is home to about 200 bottles of dead-sexy single-malts, which flirt with you from the backlit wall. In MGM Grand, 891-7318, MGMGrand.com.
It calls itself “The Last Neighborhood Bar in Las Vegas,” and while some colleagues might dispute that, Dino’s says it in neon. And, as any Downtown resident will tell you, it does a Hall of Fame job of backing it up. 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 382-3894, DinosLV.com.
Double Down Saloon
It’s been a goddamned pillar of our community since 1992, which is a credit to Las Vegas in its every detail: the psychedelic murals, the punk and garage bands, and the wildly eclectic jukebox selection. And then there’s Ass Juice, the magical shooter served in miniature toilet bowls. 4640 Paradise Rd., 791-5775, DoubleDownSaloon.com.
Downtown Cocktail Room
Those successfully able to locate the door walk inside and are treated to a most intoxicating combination of dim lighting; inspiring artwork; an original, seasonal cocktail menu, and a groovy, bohemian vibe. Pick your poison—we prefer whatever cocktail the bartender thinks fits our mood—then sink into a booth in the back room or hold court at the bar. 111 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 880-3696, TheDowntownLV.com.
If the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation time-traveled back to December 1972 to hold a swinger’s party, this dark, sexy make-out chamber would be the place. People come from all over the universe to sit around the pit of firewater and drink bowl-size cocktails (the mighty Scorpion!) delivered by servers who wear long black gowns and sit down to take your order—a classy touch. In the Peppermill, 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 735-4177, PeppermillLasVegas.com.
Yes, we’ve done a good job of importing “authentic” pubs to Las Vegas, but this place is a favorite because it feels authentically authentic. Unlike a lot of our replicas, McMullan’s not only makes you feel like a regular, it inspires you to actually be one. 4650 W. Tropicana Ave., Suite 110, 247-7000, McMullansIrishPub.com.
The two spacious bars at N9NE were among the first to capitalize on the trend to attach nightlife-quality lounges to restaurants. The dynamic bartenders here are well-equipped to both mix and converse at this steakhouse bar, which, for several years now, has reigned as one of Vegas’ authentic see-and-be-seen hot spots. In the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Rd., 933-9900, N9neGroup.com.
The world-class bartenders here at this lobby-side lounge have greeted guests since Bellagio opened its doors in 1998. While many hotels have succumbed to the pressure to stay young by bringing in DJs and bar-top dancing cocktailers, Petrossian has stayed classic, an island of adult pursuits that starts and ends with a good drink. In Bellagio, 693-7111.
Vegas “operators” of all ilk—from wise guys to guys who are wise to them (i.e. columnist John L. Smith)—have gravitated to the Tap House since it took over from the old Black Whale in the early 1980s. If the walls here could talk, well, let’s just say they’d never talk again. Capisce? 5589 W. Charleston Blvd., 870-2111, TapHouseLV.com.