Given how brutally we dispatch our hotel-casinos, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of Las Vegas’ best bars have gone the way of a used cocktail napkin. Here are seven establishments that we wish were still around to consider for inclusion in our Hall of Fame:
Calamity Jayne’s Nashville Nevada
Las Vegas’ rock ’n’ roll scene was born in this club on Boulder Highway, run by its eponymous cowpunk diva. Opened in 1988, the place attained legendary status after hosting early performances by such up-and-comers as Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, along with established names from Warren Zevon to Branford Marsalis. Calamity’s was padlocked in 1992 amid a flurry of drug and money-laundering charges.
Green Shack Restaurant
Opened in 1932, the Green Shack sold fried chicken and bootleg whiskey to Hoover Dam workers. When Prohibition ended, it became a proper restaurant and popular bar, where Frank, Dean and Liberace were known to drop by and listen to themselves on the Rock-Ola jukebox. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, but that didn’t stop it from being torn down in 2005.
The physical space still exists on the Circus Circus Midway, but today’s family-friendly ice cream and corn-dog parlor is merely a hollow shell of the spot where an ether-addled Hunter S. Thompson coldcocked his attorney after said attorney asked a cocktail waitress about fucking a polar bear. Thompson disciples would swarm this joint if it still served booze, but it remains staunchly dry and geared toward the under-12 set.
A giant steakhouse and disco owned by Paul Anka, and frequented by mobsters and showgirls? Put us on the guest list! Opened in 1978, this swinging spot was the Studio 54 of Vegas long before the official Studio 54 arrived. In fact, you might’ve seen Bob Hope shaking his not-so-groovy-thing to Donna Summer, which is way freakier than anything you’ll ever witness at one of our dayclubs.
Mad Dogs & Englishmen
These days, Las Vegas is home to a handful of “British” pubs, but Mad Dogs & Englishmen used to be the only place where you could raise a pint to the Queen in an appropriate setting. The bar’s location between the Strip and Downtown drew a few adventurous tourists, along with locals who came for the fine beer, good food and interesting roster of bands. Mad Dogs turned off the taps in the spring of 2000.
Pussycat a Go-Go
The Strip’s first rock ’n’ roll club, the Pussycat a Go-Go opened in 1964, replete with befringed go-go girls frugging in cages and the kitty-cat logo on everything from matchbooks to the mosaic behind the bar. In its heyday, you might have seen Tina Turner or James Brown cutting loose on the dance floor, Sly and the Family Stone playing a residency or Jim Morrison getting arrested on the doorstep. The club closed in 1971.
Venus Lounge/Taboo Cove
When the Venetian opened, it lured tourists with fake canals and singing gondoliers. But those in the know flocked to the retro/Rat Pack Venus Lounge and the adjacent tiki bar, Taboo Cove. The latter was crammed with hand-carved tikis and cute rockabilly bartenders making exquisite rum drinks, while the Venus offered performances by the likes of Dita Von Teese and Richard Cheese. Both opened in 2001; the Venus closed within a year, while Taboo Cove limped along until 2004.