You’re including THAT bar? How can you include THAT bar and say THIS bar doesn’t belong? Exactly how many drinks have you had? Bartender—cut her off!
Welcome back to the great Vegas Seven Bar Hall of Fame debate, an annual tradition that pretty much unfolds thusly: Our committee of dedicated drinkers gathers at a local watering hole … the first round of cocktails arrive … the list begins to take shape- (we love this, hate that) … the second round of cocktails arrive … opinions begin to differ, voices get louder … the third round of cocktails arrive … spirited discussions begin to devolve into contentious arguments … the first round of shots arrive …
Yes, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in four years of having this semiliterate, borderline-unconscious bar brawl, it’s that any discussion of the best bars in Las Vegas will produce opinions as varied as Bloody Mary recipes and as strong as Bacardi 151. And it’s clearly not just us. Just look at a few of the 20 bars our readers have voted into immortality and infamy: an Irish pub, a top-floor club, two sophisticated steakhouses, two down-and-dirty dive bars, a lounge in an upscale Strip hotel and a circular bar in a laid-back off-Strip hotel.
Now, it’s time to add five new members to these celebrated ranks. Once again, you’ll be helping us choose from a list of nominees that was determined—after much blood, sweat and beers; see above—by Vegas Seven’s expert panel of social drunks. As usual, all 31 nominees had to meet the following criteria:
1) Each bar must be at least 5 years old (opened in 2010 or earlier). After all, it’s easy to arrive with a big bang, but maintaining a loyal clientele and solid reputation—whatever that reputation might be—over a number of years is the stuff of which Hall of Fame careers are made.
2) Each bar must offer something unique in its atmosphere, quality and/or service. It must have character—that nearly indescribable something that distinguishes it from the dozens of other watering holes in our city.
Now we invite you to read on, and vote daily for your favorite nominee in each of five categories: classic, neighborhood, restaurant, cocktail/mixology and sports. After the voting closes at midnight July 9, our panel of boozehounds will reconvene and determine the Hall of Fame Class of 2015, which we’ll unveil in our July 16 issue. At that point we’ll all raise a glass (or two) to the victors—and begin drinking our way toward next year’s list.
3411 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-737-3500, CasinoRoyaleHotel.com
Serving since: 1992
Where you’re drinking: Center Strip, baby! Squeezed in between the Venetian and Harrah’s, the diminutive Casino Royale continues to thrive, thanks to some crafty marketing hooks that include the only craps table in Vegas dealing 100-times odds and a 25 percent daily rebate on slot losses. Tourists mix with informed locals at the long bar next to the table-games pit.
What you’re drinking: Only the best drinking deal on the Strip (and maybe in all of Vegas). That would be the ice-cold Michelob bottles, which Casino Royale deals 24/7 for only a buck. Heineken is $2.50, and a teeny Coors Light draft is 75 cents.
Trivia round: Want to wash down those beers with an authentic White Castle slider (or six)? This is the only bar west of the Mississippi where you can. –Anthony Curtis
2451 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-458-6343
Serving since: 1976
Where you’re drinking: In a Quentin Tarantino movie. Seriously: The Dispensary is Las Vegas’ best-preserved fern bar, with its clunky dining-nook furnishings, fake flowers, wood-paneled walls and softly churning water wheel. Occasionally ’70s and ’80s hits flood the room to complete the illusion. It’s some kind of wonderful.
What you’re drinking: Keep it unsophisticated. This isn’t a mixology bar or a place with a huge wine cellar; just order a gin and tonic, like your old man had to drink to get through the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years. And don’t be cute and ask for a weed menu. We’re not quite there. Yet.
Trivia round: The Dispensary features live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays, curated by UNLV bandleader Uli Geissendoerfer. The band sets up right next to that water wheel. –Geoff Carter
1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-384-7377
Serving since: 1962
Where you’re drinking: This bar adjacent to a drugstore sits at the outskirts of Downtown, the Arts District and the Huntridge neighborhoods, thus drawing the fringe dwellers of all three. The red-vinyl booths, veneer finishes and vintage beer signs feel like a mellow, old-school dive, but bands, DJs and theme parties occasionally goose the atmosphere.
What you’re drinking: Whatever you like. The price of a domestic beer on the Strip will buy the finest of top-shelf liquors at the HT. If you owe your friends a round (or two), this is the place to pay your debt.
Trivia round: Noted chef and curmudgeon Anthony Bourdain visited the Huntridge for a 2014 episode of his show, Parts Unknown. By all reports, he fit right in. –Lissa Townsend Rodgers
Mountain Springs Saloon
3325 Hwy. 160, Mountain Springs, 702-875-4266
Serving since: 1957
Where you’re drinking: If the bras and dollar bills hanging over the bar didn’t tip you off, the Mountain Springs Saloon is a popular spot for the motorcycle crew to take a break from the road to enjoy live music, tasty barbecue and, of course, a refreshing beverage. The bar is low-ceilinged and sprawling, with pool tables and a small stage, but there’s plenty of outdoor space for shuffleboard, horseshoes or just hanging out.
What you’re drinking: Not only is the air a bit cooler up here, but the beer seems colder, too. Order that Manhattan once you’re back in the big city.
Trivia round: The last Saturday of the month is pig roast day! –LTR
310 Spring St., Goodsprings, 702-874-9362, PioneerSaloon.info
Serving since: 1913
Where you’re drinking: Picture a true frontier saloon—the ornate wooden bar, the wall-mounted animal heads, the timeworn wood-slat floor, even the bullet holes in the walls—and take nothing away. The Pioneer is the real deal, right on the desert’s doorstep in Goodsprings near Jean.
What you’re drinking: Beer is a good choice; whiskey another. Both are cheap and appropriate to the surroundings, and both pair well with the burgers from the bar’s kitchen. Just don’t overdo it or fail to designate a driver: Good luck getting a cab out here.
Trivia round: Clark Gable spent three miserable days at the Pioneer in January 1942, drinking, chain-smoking and waiting for news of his wife Carole Lombard, who perished when her plane crashed into Mount Potosi. Some say that Lombard’s spirit still haunts the premises, endlessly trying to comfort him. –GC
Stage Door Casino
4000 Audrie St., 702-733-0124
Serving since: 1976
Where you’re drinking: The Stage Door has been holding down its corner of the Strip since before The Cromwell—hell, since before the Barbary Coast. For almost four decades, they’ve been pouring beers and shots for a crowd that’s more velvet painting than velvet rope. Sure, the place is small and smoky, and the soundtrack is sports on TV competing with classic-rock radio (the glassed-in booth here is for cashing paychecks, not a DJ). But isn’t that kinda comforting in this bottle-service-and-Versace neighborhood?
What you’re drinking: $1 for a beer, $2 for a shot and $3 for a hot dog and a beer. That’s something both Teamsters and tourists can appreciate.
Trivia Round: Bring cash. The Stage Door doesn’t want your stinkin’ plastic. –LTR
Don’t Tell Mama
517 Fremont St., 702-207-0788, DontTellMama.com
Serving Since: 2009
Where you’re drinking: Even in a time when dueling-piano bars have largely superseded regular, I’ll-be-here-all-week casino lounges, there’s something charmingly atavistic about Don’t Tell Mama, named for a Kander & Ebb song from Cabaret. Maybe it’s the smoky room; maybe it’s the smell of wine and cheap perfume. Or maybe it’s the borderline rebellious feeling one gets from going to a bar, getting one’s drink on, and then singing “Just a Friend” at the top of one’s lungs while friends drunkenly cheer you on. Don’t Tell Mama keeps that feeling real.
What you’re drinking: Stiff drinks, fortified with liquid courage—and they’re made by bartenders who are just as likely to stride confidently to the stage and sing a few songs themselves. That’s a thing that happens, quite often.
Trivia round: Too many bridesmaids, graduates and tone-deaf drunks waiting to sing before you do? There’s another Don’t Tell Mama—the original, located on West 46th Street in New York City. –GC
610 E. Naples Dr., 702-794-2300, FreeZoneLV.com
Serving since: 1998
Where you’re drinking: This is not a place where you show off your Prada while ordering bottle service and listening to obscure EDM tracks. Rather, Free Zone is a chill, cheerful gay bar where you drink unlimited beer, dance to songs you know the words to and come however—and whoever—you are. There’s karaoke two nights a week, drag three nights and evenings dedicated to both “boys” and “ladies.” You can also just hang out playing video games while watching off-duty Cirque performers break-dance.
What you’re drinking: There are beer and liquor busts starting at $5. Too lazy to walk to the bar? Hail one of the charming guys or gals patrolling the floor with a tray of shots.
Trivia round: One Monday each month, the Nevada Poker League meets at the Free Zone for a poker night of the non-video kind. –LTR
Fun Hog Ranch
495 E. Twain Ave., 702-791-7001, FunHogRanchLV.com
Serving Since: 1997
Where you’re drinking: Wood-paneled (a friend calls it “naughty pine”) and festooned with porcine ephemera, Fun Hog Ranch is a nice, cozy gay dive. The bartenders are attentive, the crowd is friendly (pencils are provided atop the bar, should one prove friendly enough to give you a phone number), and the overall vibe is one of relaxed debauchery.
What you’re drinking: Cheap beer, shots and mixed drinks, and lots of ’em. Booze specials are common here—there isn’t a day of the week that doesn’t feature a beer bust, a buy-one-get-one special or an early-morning happy hour.
Trivia round: “If it’s got tits/testicles or tires, it’s sure to give you trouble,” read signs on the bathroom doors. Fun Hog also has Studz, the only gay-themed pinball machine we’ve encountered. Find out what happens when you light up “Tom’s Ball-Buster.” –GC
511 Fremont St., 702-382-0577
Serving since: 2007
Where you’re drinking: Part of the first wave of Fremont East bars, the Griffin feels older than it is, thanks to its cellar-like vaulted ceiling, always-burning fire pits and general lived-in feel. The first Griffin is still serving drinks in Los Angeles, but ours sure feels like a Vegas original—a kind of clubhouse for locals who like their drinks stiff and their bars smoky.
What you’re drinking: They’ve got Hamm’s on tap, as well as a smartly curated selection of local and national microbrews. Mixed drinks are made well, but keep them simple—there are almost always people waiting behind you.
Trivia round: The CD jukebox is one of the best in the city, meaning it’s your chance to play DJ. We recommend lots of ‘80s metal and current indie selections. –GC
842 S. Boulder Hwy., Henderson, 702-564-2121, JohnnyMacsWings.com
Serving since: 1984
Where you’re drinking: Upon walking into Johnny Mac’s for the first time, you’d probably be inclined to categorize it as a restaurant more than a bar (and certainly the pizza and Buffalo wings are legendary). But stick around for a couple of pops and you’ll begin to appreciate why this Boulder Highway institution has been a home away from home for Old Henderson’s blue-collar crew for more than three decades. Think of the place as Old Henderson’s version of Cheers, and proprietor John McGinty as Sam Malone.
What you’re drinking: Easy: a round of shots and a pitcher of beer. (You caught the blue-collar part, right?)
Trivia round: As evidenced by the helmet affixed to the wall behind the bar, McGinty is a Buffalo native, which explains why his place has been a sort of therapy chamber for long-suffering Bills fans on autumn Sundays. (It also explains why the wings are so damn good!) –Matt Jacob
3240 Arville St., 702-368-4180
Serving since: 1999
Where you’re drinking: This west-central neighborhood dive bar is long, narrow and owns its attitude. Surfboards and Buffalo Bills banners (again with the Bills!) compete for wall space, video poker commands the bartop, and animated bartenders—lit by colored lighting—pour your poison. It can feel a little territorial on your first visit, but if you let that stop you, you will miss out on some of the best bar food in town, slung with proper New York skill from the tiny kitchen of Naked City Pizza.
What you’re drinking: The typical dive-bar selection of beer and booze, at fair prices. And remember: If you give attitude, you’ll get it.
Trivia round: These folks are actually from New York. As is the case at Johnny Mac’s, if you’re not a Bills fan, you might want to keep that to yourself … –James P. Reza
3805 W. Sahara Ave., 702-871-4952
Serving since: 1964
Where you’re drinking: Tucked back off Sahara Avenue just west of Valley View Boulevard, Shifty’s is a dive bar and proud of it. Operating for 50 years—including a four-year stint as Squiggy’s—this in-the-know joint serves up inexpensive drinks, killer karaoke on Wednesdays and weekends, and some of the best video poker schedules this side of the Strip (see Page 18).
What you’re drinking: $3 drafts and $5 shots about sums it up. Whichever route you go, pool is on the house.
Trivia round: While it’s not obvious that Shifty’s even has a kitchen, you can get one of the best steak deals in town for $10 (the quality of the cut varies from week to week). –AC
7700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-736-4939, BootleggerLasVegas.com
Serving since: 2001 (1972 original location)
Where you’re drinking: After 29 years at Tropicana and Eastern avenues, the Boot kicked over to a new spot far south on Las Vegas Boulevard. Sidle up to one of the high-back red booths on a Monday night for Kelly Clinton’s “karaoke” night (wink, wink), and you’re likely to run into any number of Old Vegas movers, shakers, entertainers and moneymakers. Sit in the bar after 11 p.m., and it’s all industry, all the time, while multiple flat panels screen everything from sports to election returns.
What you’re drinking: During dinner hours, most patrons quaff wine or a classic cocktail. Late night, it’s vodka and whiskey. Booze prices are fair, and bartenders are quick (quicker for gamblers).
Trivia round: The founding Perry family started in Vegas in 1955 by helping Lou Ruvo’s family with the original Venetian restaurant (on Fremont Street); daughter Lorraine Hunt was lounge singer Lauri Perry long before she was our lieutenant governor. –JPR
Level 107 Lounge
In the Stratosphere, 702-380-7777, StratosphereHotel.com.
Serving since: 2010
Where you’re drinking: “The lounge one floor below the observation deck.” That’s exactly what you’ll tell the Stratosphere tower’s elevator attendant. This way you can soak in a 360-degree view of the Valley while avoiding Level 108’s $20 cover. Expect dim lighting, funky furniture (think spaceship chic) and booths packed with tourists near the Strip-facing bar.
What you’re drinking: Cocktails during happy hour (we recommend the sweet and velvety Chocolate Masterpiece, made with Godiva liqueur). From 4-7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. daily, drinks are 2-for-1 (no mix and match), plus all appetizers are half-off. Score the same deal from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Mondays with your Nevada ID.
Trivia round: When enjoying the view, position yourself opposite Downtown—and remember, the restaurant below rotates, but the bar doesn’t. –Camille Cannon
Piero’s Monkey Bar
365 Convention Center Dr., 702-369-2305, PierosCuisine.com
Serving since: 1987 (1982 original location)
Where you’re drinking: As ever more bits of our city are lost to progress, places like Freddie Glusman’s Piero’s near the Las Vegas Convention Center are among the few joints where Old Vegas still exists in concentrate, as evidenced by the interesting collection of classic Vegas characters (both sitting next to you and posted on the walls). This is one of those spots where celebs escape and local power takes center stage, negotiating over drinks at the classically styled dark wood bar (surrounded, of course, by primates).
What you’re drinking: Glusman’s extensive cellar flows into a list that includes 31 wines and bubbles by the glass ($12-$25), plus nine pages of bottles (from a $35 La Marca to a $6,800 Rothschild). Otherwise, it’s likely a gin martini, olives, up. Whether you’re wooing a date or a business deal, you come to Piero’s to unleash the power of the wallet.
Trivia round: According to Glusman, Martin Scorsese paid a $30,000 daily location fee to Piero’s for filming parts of his Vegas opus, Casino. –JPR
In Encore, 702-770-7000, WynnLasVegas.com
Serving since: 2008
Where you’re drinking: “Sophisticated” isn’t usually how you describe a celebrity-themed restaurant these days, but Sinatra keeps it Chairman-classy. Both the dining room and bar are airy, elegant spaces with garden views, adorned with touches of orange and a few tasteful portraits of the man himself. Frank, Dean and sometimes Peggy or Billie croon in the background.
What you’re drinking: Frank took his cocktails seriously, and so does Sinatra. The gorgeous, mirrored bar is abundantly stocked and adroitly deployed: Try a Sinatra Smash or Flame of Love. Or just ask for two fingers of Jack on the rocks, like Ol’ Blue Eyes routinely did.
Trivia Round: That Grammy you see? It’s for “Strangers in the Night.” That Emmy? It’s for Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music. And the Oscar? From Here to Eternity, baby! –LTR
Top of Binion’s Steakhouse
128 Fremont St, 702-382-1600, TopOfBinionsSteakhouse.com
Serving since: 1988
Where you’re drinking: Off the beaten path yet in the middle of it all, the Top of Binion’s Steakhouse features an impressive view, from the so-close-you-could-almost-touch-it Plaza to the farthest reaches of Red Rock. The 24th-floor space has remained virtually unchanged for decades and is a classic example of wood-paneled, velvet-wallpapered, old-school Vegas. Enjoy the unironic retro atmosphere before the freaking hipsters finally discover it.
What you’re drinking: You’re in a classic steakhouse overlooking the lights of Las Vegas. Translation: This is not Miller time. Have a proper cocktail, you cretin; ask the bartender to shake you up a Manhattan, martini or Old-Fashioned.
Trivia Round: Top of Binion’s was once the Mint Casino’s Sky Room, until Binion’s bought the casino and folded it into the Horseshoe. We still weep for the loss of that gloriously Googie Mint sign. –LTR
In the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com
Serving since: 2010
Where you’re drinking: It’s difficult for the average casino “center bar” to maintain an identity separate from its surrounding casino floor, but this opulent, three-story masterpiece, swaddled in millions of chandelier-like crystals, manages to do just that. It actually contains lounges on three separate levels, each offering a different kind of intimacy.
What you’re drinking: This is a world-class mixology bar, offering original libations such as the Cat’s Cradle: Fords Gin, Hum liqueur, house-made plum liqueur and lemon, topped with Dry lavender soda in a tumbler rimmed with flora-infused sugars. That degree of thought and care goes across the menu.
Trivia round: The Chandelier’s bottommost level occasionally hosts offbeat lounge acts, such as YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox, who played there in January. –GC
Frankie’s Tiki Room
1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-385-3110, FrankiesTikiRoom.com</em>
Serving since: 2008
Where you’re drinking: Imagine a human turducken of Thor Heyerdahl, Walt Disney and Charles Bukowski. This authentic tiki bar, a labor of love by P Moss—owner of inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Double Down Saloon—is at once a retreat from Vegas and the most extreme case of it. Here you’ll experience lowbrow art and high-potency potables like you’ve rarely enjoyed before.
What you’re drinking: The menu is a mix of classic tiki drinks (think a Lapu Lapu or mai tai), and original creations such as the Lava Letch and Fink Bomb. You can even purchase the custom tiki mugs they’re served in—just know that the combination booze high/sugar coma will knock you on your ass.
Trivia round: The quarter-operated “Vice Tester” in the corner was custom-built for Frankie’s by famed pop artist Josh “Shag” Agle. We usually pull up “smut,” “booze” or “bad television.” Sounds about right. –GC
In Sunset Station, Henderson, 702-547-7777, SunsetStation.SCLV.com.
Serving since: 1997
Where you’re drinking: In a casino—or, to be more precise, smack-dab in the center of Sunset Station’s casino. Yet, despite being surrounded by felt tables and ring-a-ding slot machines, you don’t feel like you’re in a casino. Attribute that to the cool center-bar vibe and stunning architecture that seemingly was ripped from the drafting table of famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. The pièce de résistance? A killer 6,000-square-foot, 12-ton mosaic stained-glass ceiling. If we knew who among the Station Casinos brain trust rubber-stamped this beauty, we’d gladly buy them a drink.
What you’re drinking: Gaudi Bar sports one of the most extensive martini menus in the Valley—including dozens of creations from the imaginative mind of bartender Russell Prunty—and they’re all $5 during happy hour (4-7 p.m. daily).
Trivia round: If it’s important for you to keep your conversation private, know this: The bar’s circular acoustics are such that patrons on the opposite side of the bar can hear you as clearly as the person sitting next to you. –MJ
Herbs & Rye
3713 W. Sahara Ave., 702-982-8036, HerbsAndRye.com
Serving Since: 2009
Where you’re drinking: This unassuming central Valley building is where Lou Ruvo’s family presided over their venerable Venetian Ristorante for 31 years. Fast-forward past a couple of ill-advised “makeovers” into suggestively named video poker bars, and in steps booze maestro Nectaly Mendoza to make the old new again, birthing a top-notch, speakeasy-style watering hole and Italian chophouse. If you visited Herbs & Rye in the beginning, the past few years have seen the food and service improve substantially, while maintaining the joint’s heart and soul: the ass-kicking classic cocktail menu. Herbs might be the perfect date spot, but the friendly crowd and staff makes even solo drinkers happy.
What you’re drinking: Don’t let the extensive drink menu fool or intimidate you; this is no froofy martini joint. Skilled bartenders mix up multiple pages of perfectly balanced classics. Our fave is the Ford.
Trivia round: During two daily happy hours (5-8 p.m.; midnight-2 a.m.), most steaks and well drinks are half price. Hint: Don’t order from the Dark Ages drink menu, and don’t ask for flavored vodka. Just don’t. –JPR
6020 W. Flamingo Rd., Suite 10, 702-873-8990, NorasCuisine.com
Serving since: 1991
Where you’re drinking: In a place that cared about its cocktail menu long before anyone else even had one. Nora’s bar isn’t simply an adjunct to a restaurant, but an important part of drinking culture in Las Vegas in its own right. This is, after all, where it is said that the “proper cocktail” was reintroduced to a Las Vegas long thought lost to cheap beer, free drinks and premade mixers. At Nora’s, handcrafted cocktails and bar-made mixers have been the norm for decades.
What you’re drinking: Yes, there is plenty of wine, and a tasty house-made sangria as well. But that’s not why you’re here. The cocktail menu, pared down from previous years, now lists five classics (Manhattan, negroni, etc.), seven house specialties (“Pear of Berries”) and a recent addition of four keg cocktails, including sangria. Most of the bartenders are more than happy to go off-menu for a knowledgeable drinker; try Rudy’s Sazerac for a potent New Orleans sipper.
Trivia round: Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim is said to have tipped back a few here before he reinvigorated classy Strip drinking with his impressive property-wide cocktail program that opened Steve Wynn’s Bellagio. –JPR
In the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com
Serving since: 2010
Where you’re drinking: In a classic yet modern cocktail bar at the nexus of a casino resort. “The mission for Vesper was to redefine the way Las Vegas was drinking, stretching the boundaries of a top-level cocktail bar in the lobby of a casino,” says Vesper’s opening general manager, Andrew Pollard, now a beverage development specialist with Wirtz Beverage Nevada.
What you’re drinking: Since its opening, Vesper has been a proving ground for bartenders who want to master both high volume and high-quality service. Embodying that duality, your drink is as likely to be a creative, original twist on a classic. The faces behind the stick and in the executive offices have changed greatly over time, leading to a period of choppy water for Vesper. But a renewed spirit has settled over the staff, which is restoring the bar to its former glory with each hand-shaken Ramos gin fizz.
Trivia round: A special section of property mixologist Mariena Mercer’s latest Vesper menu features the Cosmo’s Signature Sips, including reposado and añejo tequilas hand-selected at the Casa Noble distillery in Mexico. Fancy. –Xania Woodman
Backstop Sports Pub
533 Avenue B, Boulder City, 702-294-8445, BackstopSportsPub.com
Serving since: 1993
Where you’re drinking: In its original form, the Backstop was a recreational hall for Hoover Dam workers. Now it provides Boulder City locals and Vegas visitors with pool, darts and shuffleboard, as well as newfangled entertainment such as television, video games and liquor (Boulder City was dry until 1969). The Backstop is a large, windowless, well air-conditioned room adorned with throwback bar signage—the giant Budweiser Clydesdales under glass are especially cool—and sports memorabilia ranging from the usual jerseys and pennants to outsider-art paintings of football huddles.
What you’re drinking: Shots, beers or—if you wanna get fancy—liquor plus a mixer. As a sign on the wall says: “Our house wine is Jägermeister.”
Trivia round: The gorgeous, vaulted mahogany bar is actually half of a bar that was part of boxer Jim Jeffries’ tavern in Los Angeles circa 1904. –LTR
Big Dog’s Draft House
4543 N. Rancho Dr., 702-645-1404, BigDogBrews.com
Serving since: 1988
Where you’re drinking: In a large, rustic-style bar and restaurant, reminiscent of a barn. Check out a live band on the patio or gaze through giant windows at the wonder of beer being made in the on-site brewery. Big Dog’s sometimes combines the two by hosting music/beer festivals. The menu is vast, but the cheese curds and giant burgers remain favorites.
What you’re drinking: Big Dog’s is renowned for two things: Wisconsin football and craft beers. Try the Black Lab Stout, Red Hydrant Ale, Tailwagger Hef one of the seasonal selections. Or, if you’re not imbibing, there’s also a tasty house-made root beer.
Trivia Round: Thirsty for a Big Dog’s cold one, but can’t make it out to the Draft House? No worries: You can find their beer at various grocery and convenience stores across the Valley. –LTR
Born and Raised
7260 S. Cimarron Rd., 702-685-0258, BornAndRaisedLV.com
Serving since: 2010
Where you’re drinking: It might seem odd for a stylish local bar to set up shop in a strip mall that’s next to a children’s dentistry and a hospital, but the location hasn’t stopped Born and Raised from drawing in a loyal clientele, particularly fans of UNLV teams. TVs of assorted sizes on one wall preside over the main lounge featuring a collection of offbeat furniture—it gives the whole place a tasteful vibe for a crowd that tends toward “Well, we can’t go to Hakkasan every night.”
What you’re drinking: The Fresh to Death Bar-garita. Hey, if a bar still has a Jersey Shore reference on its cocktail menu in 2015, you know it’s good.
Trivia round: Four years ago after a Halloween show, Marilyn Manson couldn’t find a karaoke place open at 4 a.m., so he went to Born and Raised to sing Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” six times and ended up pulling a knife on a limo driver, later hand-waving the incident off with “I’m sorry I went nuts, but I’m a rock star.” That’s our Mary. –Jason Scavone
9295 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-562-2050, Brooksys.net
Serving since: 2010
Where you’re drinking: Who knew one of the city’s best sports bars would be housed in a funky, castle-looking building on West Flamingo Road, adjacent to the Las Vegas Ice Center? Did we say “adjacent to”? Well, that’s technically true. But the entire north wall of the bar is a window overlooking the rink. No wonder this is a popular landing spot for hockey players and fans—in fact, with games being played on the regular, you get free live hockey with your evening libation.
What you’re drinking: Crown Royal and Yukon Jack. Keep it Canadian, out of respect.
Trivia round: Wayne Gretzky runs his $15,000-a-player fantasy camp at the Ice Center. Time it right and you can see the Great One from the comfort of a table at Brooksy’s—without having to spend the price of a Civic to embarrass yourself on the ice in front of the greatest player of all time. –JS
Crown & Anchor
1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-739-8676, CrownAndAnchorLV.com
Serving since: 1995
Where you’re drinking: Around the corner from UNLV, next to a tire shop on Trop, might not evoke a village in the English countryside, but the original Crown & Anchor has the lived-in charm of an ages-old watering hole, even if it’s just entering its 20th year. It also has soccer flags on the walls and fútbol matches on the telly. Lots of ’em.
What you’re drinking: British Isles suds, of course. Crown has 10 beers from Great Britain and Ireland on tap. We’re always partial to a pint of Smithwick’s. Your mileage may vary, but come on—do you really need another Newcastle or Guinness?
Trivia round: With the Women’s World Cup in full swing, this is your home for that. Ditto for 9 a.m. English Premier League soccer and 6 a.m. rugby matches and any other sport that’s exceedingly British and starts over here at an ungodly hour. –JS
276 N. Jones Blvd., 702-870-0255, FourKegs.com
Serving since: 1977
Where you’re drinking: Until recent Downtown developments, Las Vegas was almost entirely a strip-mall city when it came to local watering holes. But don’t hold that against this cramped west-side haunt. Sure, it’s a typical sports and video poker bar, but longtime Las Vegans swear by the Kegs’ square Sicilian pizza, while many got their first taste of hot wings right here. It’s lasted in the same location since the year the first Star Wars was released (and about 35 years longer than your average Las Vegas resident), and it has the character to prove it. Forget the chains; dig in here.
What you’re drinking: Nothing too frilly is poured from these kegs, and that’s how the regulars like it. A few drafts, a few bottles and most of the hard liquor you know is available—and at prices that make the Strip seem an expensive planet away. Keep it simple, stranger.
Trivia round: UNLV-kid-gone-big-time Guy Fieri raved about the Four Kegs’ stromboli on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, and it’s legit—although we still go for the pies. –JPR
Multiple locations, SteinersPub.com
Serving since: 1998
Where you’re drinking: In the sturdiest pub in Las Vegas. And that’s not a metaphor: Almost all the décor in Steiner’s is heavy wood, giving the place a feeling of solidity, in the best way. If global warming comes for us all and we end up suffering through Midwest winters in Southern Nevada, we can all be cozy here.
What you’re drinking: Beer, beer and more beer, thanks to an impressive list of bottles and more than two dozen drafts, includes a house brew. One of Steiner’s strengths is a tremendous happy hour, with two-for-one beers and well drinks from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. That means you can get a pair of 22-ounce domestic drafts for less than 10 bucks, putting you in range of sixer-at-home prices.
Trivia round: Each summer, Steiner’s organizes a one-day bus trip to a Major League Baseball game (this year: Angels at Dodgers on August 1) that includes unlimited beer and cocktails there and back. For day games, the bus departs at about 6 a.m. We can’t recommend an early round of pancakes highly enough. We’ve seen people tap out by Barstow—it ain’t pretty. –JS
Senior writer Lissa Townsend Rodgers talks about our Bar Hall of Fame on on 97.1 the Point. Listen to the broadcast below.