Snoop Dogg: The host with the most at Tao’s Snoopadelic Cabaret.

Best Pre-Party Vibe Dining

Dapper, thirsty and carnivorous Tastemakers agree that STK is the best place to eat some meat before you make your way to the party. The restaurant that prides itself on being “Not your daddy’s steakhouse” even provides a DJ to prime you for the next move. On Magnum Mondays, there’s no need to find the after-party; industry members happily settle in for the night with magnum-size bubbly for standard-bottle-size prices, sounds by DJ M!ke Attack and 25 percent off chef Stephen Hopcraft’s modern steakhouse cuisine. In the Cosmopolitan,

Best Underground Leader

After Afterhours made a national splash when a list of “DJ Rules” for the after-hours event—launched February 1 in the former Empire Ballroom space—went viral. The initial excitement over those anti-commercial commandments was supported by rare bookings, a dedicated following and a move to Holly Madison’s 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque. Now following a brief hiatus, After is looking to expand again at a new location. Several warehouse parties are already in the works, and we can expect a new residency launching New Year’s Eve and continuing Saturdays thereafter. Of the change, managing partner Thom Svast says, “We’re trying to bring house music back to its roots.” So, will the “DJ Rules” still apply? Svast says, “Absolutely.”


Best Champagne to Party With

That Brother Pierre Pérignon, upon allegedly “discovering” Champagne, actually spoke the words, “Come quickly, I’m drinking the stars,” is now generally accepted as apocryphal. But you’re swallowing it, along with lots of Dom Pérignon Champagne: Each year, Las Vegas’ on-premise (non-retail) accounts purchase more Dom than every bar, hotel and restaurant in California combined. From the humble 750-milliliter and the 6-liter Methusalah of 2000 Rose Gold rosé (at more than $100,000, the largest and most expensive Dom bottle available in Las Vegas right now) to the way-cool light-up Luminous bottles, Brother Dom is the life of the party.

You never know what’s going to happen—or who you’ll meet—at Lavo’s Party Brunch.

You never know what’s going to happen—or who you’ll meet—at Lavo’s Party Brunch.

Best Party Paraphernalia

Handheld cryo guns, toy laser shooters and glow sticks of varying sizes are among the bounty of props that turn up at Lavo Party Brunch. Attendees are lavishly adorned in souvenir necklaces and sunglasses to remind them of that one time in Vegas when they danced on the tables of a high-end Italian restaurant and stomped confetti into their omelets. In the Palazzo,

Best Club Freebie

In addition to the aforementioned props and novelties, some clubs offer foam glow sticks, branded hats and tees, and even swag bags for the ladies. But it’s free entry for locals that Las Vegans appreciate most. The rules for this perk vary depending on the club, the night, the scheduled talent and sometimes even the gender. Promoters and VIP hosts submit guest lists nightly, so getting in touch with one of these nightclub employees is usually the simplest route—Facebook is a great place to start.

Fashion Trend That’s Overstayed its Welcome

We’re not entirely sure why anyone thought that neon was OK to bring back at all, but according to our Tastemakers, y’all can cut it out now. A nightclub is not a rave, and layering multiple obnoxious neon garments really shouldn’t be done outside of a costume party. Oh, but on Wednesdays, we still wear pink.

Calvin Harris. | Photo by Brenton ho/Powers imagery

Calvin Harris. | Photo by Brenton ho/Powers imagery

Best Headliner Resident DJ

Choosy Tastemakers choose … Calvin Harris! The Grammy winner, Hakkasan resident and Forbes’ highest paid DJ for the last two years was also the first artist to place three tracks on Billboard’s Top 10 simultaneously. Yes, the Scottish DJ has some solid credentials to back up his status as a crowd favorite. And he’s pretty much guaranteed to sell out the house for every one of his performances. So, it’s no wonder the clubs love him, too.

Best Local Resident DJ

In addition to being a crowd-bouncing open-format DJ, Bree DeLano (a.k.a. DJ88) is the brand and entertainment director at Insert Coin(s) on Fremont Street. Under DJ88’s direction, and with her dope sounds, the video-game-themed bar has successfully kept up with all of the new kids to move onto the block over the last few years. In addition to a fair amount of travel gigs, DJ88 plays at her home venue on the regular, making Downtown even more of a Tastemaker destination.

Best Bottle Presentations

If a high-roller is going to spend big bucks on a bottle of alcohol, there better be some bells and whistles along with its delivery—literally. Hakkasan is one of the largest and most extravagant clubs in the world, so it’s expected that its bottle presentations also live up to those standards. Whether it involves spelling out the big spender’s name in flashing lights above the head of a famous DJ, trotting out an entire marching band or creating a personal light show with confetti and hot dancers, Hakkasan delivers grand presentations to match its grand prices. In MGM Grand,

Best Nightclub Ripe for Revision

It’s last call for LAX in Luxor—or a least it should be, according to our Tastemakers, who say they are ready for a fresh new experience from parent company Hakkasan Group. The group will understandably be busy for a while, transforming Pure in Caesars Palace into megaclub Omnia, which is slated for a spring opening. But perhaps once all the confetti has settled there …? (Another club Tastemaker-tagged for a facelift is 1 Oak in The Mirage. Light Group is a little busy right now, too, what with its shiny new Aria casino bar, Alibi, and the imminent renovation of Haze nightclub, also scheduled for a spring debut; rumor has it Aria’s Gold Lounge is on the docket, too.)

Best Nightclub Visual Display

Boasting a massive LED wall and Cirque du Soleil performers dangling from the ceiling, Light Nightclub takes the cake when it comes to visuals. The vast box-like room seems to envelop you in darkness, providing a stark contrast to the glow from the oversize visuals on gargantuan screens surrounding a central DJ booth. It also gives you something to look at in the club other than your phone. In Mandalay Bay,

Best DJ Roster

Hakkasan Group is killing it where music is concerned, boasting a roster of elite DJs and performers who play Hakkasan nightclub and Wet Republic dayclub at MGM Grand. Exclusive contracts with the likes of Calvin Harris, Tiësto, Steve Aoki and Afrojack mean that Hakkasan can count a number of its affiliated artists on Forbes’ 2014 list of the world’s highest-paid DJs.

Best Industry Night

Sunday Night Swim at XS pops off weekly during the warm summer months. Industry folk love to take advantage of having access to one of the best nightclubs in the game, and XS provides the perfect night for locals to gather under the stars. But this is no off night: The DJs on these nights go hard, with past acts including Major Lazer, Zedd and Avicii gracing the stage. Sunday is also the only night partygoers can hop in the pool during club hours without being swiftly kicked out. In Encore,

Nervo. | Photo by Joe Fury

Nervo. | Photo by Joe Fury

Best DJ Duo

Liv and Mim Nervo not only make a darling DJ duo as residents who rock the decks at Hakkasan, but they’re also twins. Who better to work together on floor-bumping beats than sisters so in-sync they practically know which song the other plans to play before it’s even queued up? They also each have a rad fashion sense that perfectly balances the other. Mim’s lady-hawk and edgy style in contrast to Liv’s long locks and feminine taste make them a couple of very sexy sirens, both to behold as well as to hear.

Best Undiscovered Vodka Flavor

Proving that, despite their commonalities, our Tastemakers are a diverse crew, there were nearly as many unique responses to this question as there were Tastemakers. Of those, answers ranged from juniper (thus: gin) and beer to abstinence and money, while others—such as avocado, chamomile and cigar—show more promise for marketability. But above all, our Tastemakers have a taste for spice; they’re holding out for wasabi and sriracha.

Best After-hours

Drai’s After Hours is the reigning champ—and by a landslide. Other post-party venues have come and gone or just not reached the bar that Drai’s sets with its late-night shenanigans. Partygoers look upon it fondly because of the memories that have been made—or forgotten—in its notorious basement. Whether during the Barbary Coast, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall or Cromwell eras, Victor Drai’s red-lit parlor and old-school, supper club-style nightclub has turned many a long night into day. In the Cromwell,

Best Drink for Going All Night Long (and Beyond…)

OK, we get it: Red Bull gives you wings. But seriously, no other beverage (except water) even made a dent in this category. Why? Two words: Tony Cordasco—the local Red Bull king has Vegas’ nightlife scene on lock, and his industry ‘field trips’ are the stuff of legend. Plus, it tastes like Sweet Tarts and (if you must) it mixes with spirits. Moving on.

Best Juice Bar

If you haven’t noticed, most nightclub staffers are in pretty good shape (see Page 20). If they’re not hefting large-format bottles over their heads at the club, they’re doing snatches and thrusters at CrossFit. But when they’re not doing either, they’re at Juice NV, undoing the effects of whatever happened the night before with this “urban farm stand’s” most popular juice blends: Jump Start, Beets by Waits and Unicorn’s Blood. 9500 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 110,

Photo by Al Powers

Photo by Al Powers

Best Celebrity Club Host

Gin and juice, hookers and weed—who wouldn’t want to party with Snoop Dogg? Ironically, the hip-hop legend has cleaned up his act for Las Vegas, launching Snoopadelic Cabaret this past summer, a speakeasy-inspired residency at Tao. The emcee and headliner blends his DJ sets with live performances. If you haven’t had a chance to party with the Lion himself yet, the Snoop D-O-double-G-man will bring back the next installment of his 1920s-themed party on New Year’s Eve.

Best Nightlife Side Job

When Las Vegas nightlife people feel the tug of responsibility, they have any number of day-job choices from which to choose. Historically, however, most seem to fall into one of four camps: commercial real estate, sneaker boutique, street-wear line or starting a gym. But the newest and most preferred Tastemaker day job is, well, just see the award for Best Juice Bar.

Best Splurge Experience

It’s easy to splurge in Las Vegas, but the $800 per person private lift to and from Electric Daisy Carnival is on every Tastemaker’s wish list. The 15-minute trip for up to seven ($5,000 total) departs from Maverick Helicopters headquarters, affording an aerial view of both the Strip and the lights of EDC. (Not to mention the whole avoiding traffic thing.) Unfortunately your ticket doesn’t get you entrance into the festival, but you still look like an extravagant badass upon arrival. So if you have six friends and an extra five grand lying around, you’ll know what to do with it next summer.

Best Date-Night Dining

Don’t take a seat by the windows if they’re open—you’ll have to text each other to converse—but by all means do secure a reservation at Giada’s for that big date-night dinner. This place is dressed to impress, with seats that you can’t help but pull out for your date (hint: there are handles on the backs) and soft, complementary lighting in which everyone looks better. With small plates and whole chicken cacciatore for two, you can work on your sharing skills before spoon-feeding chocolate amaretti cake to one another. In the Cromwell,

Best Post-Club Grub

Drunk munchies are a Las Vegas tradition. And our highly regarded Tastemakers prefer the rainbow sugar and throwback vibe of the Peppermill, which is within wobbling distance of many Strip clubs, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 24/7. After a sobering meal and restorative cuppa, you can then swing by the cheesy-yet-charming Fireside lounge and start Round 2. 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South,


Best Anti-Hangover Drink

Resqwater’s guerilla marketing must have worked. Tastemakers love the little blue bottle now found on hotel-room nightstands, in mini-bars and all over a certain Vegas Seven beverage editor’s home. Resqwater contains organic prickly pear extract, organic cane sugar, B vitamins, N-acetyl L-cysteine and milk thistle, which is said to metabolize acetaldehyde, the compound that makes you feel crappy the morning after imbibing. Aside from teetotaling, there’s no better way to beat a hangover.

Biggest Nightlife Story of the Year

True, Marquee Dayclub’s experiments in drone bottle service are pretty cool. But the aforementioned news that the Las Vegas nightlife mother ship, Pure, will be remade over by Hakkasan Group as Omnia is what’s on the tip of Tastemakers’ tongues right now. Designed by the Rockwell Group, Omnia will be “a completely different experience from Hakkasan,” Hakkasan Group president Nick McCabe says. “The new nightclub is not about eclipsing Hakkasan; it’s about satisfying our guests’ desire for a second Hakkasan Group nightlife experience in Vegas.”

Photo courtesy of Hakkasan Group

Photo courtesy of Hakkasan Group

Contributors: Kat Boehrer, Camille Cannon, Jessie O’Brien and Xania Woodman.

2014 Nightlife Awards