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Happier by the hour: Vegas' best drink deals
Story by Lissa Townsend Rodgers and
Photography by Christopher smith
Wet your whistle, no matter your taste. Vegas has a happy hour for every kind of drinker. Here are our faves
chicken pizza. Desire to dine more authentically Big Easy? How about fried pickle chips, alligator tail and an Abita draft? As folks drift in for post-work meet-ups and pre-dinner drinks while day turns into night, you might have time for more than one option.
6435 S. Decatur Blvd., 767-8438.
Happy hour daily 4-6:30 p.m.
Sometimes, it’s all about the finest bang for the least buck. That’s the reasoning behind the Double Down’s $2 happy hour — and that’s $2 for every drink in the house, no limits, no exceptions. During the earlier hours, the punk-rock standby is quieter, less packed, more of a chill hangout for regulars to swap stories and make plans. Of course, if the setting doesn’t quite feel swank (lurid murals, Ramones on the speakers, ’60s Euro-horror movies on the TVs), focus on the taste of that low-price, top-shelf booze. Grey Goose martini? Two dollars. Courvoisier straight up? Two dollars. Pint of Boddingtons with a double shot of Johnnie Walker? 2 + (2 + 2) = six bucks. So, enjoy a dimly lit afternoon drinking the good stuff, where no one will ever find you. Appreciate the depth of the jukebox’s selection and the bartender’s skill as a raconteur. And, once it begins getting crowded, make your escape.
4640 Paradise Rd., 791-5775.
Happy hour Mon.-Fri. 12-5 p.m.
Start out at the Vanguard Lounge or the Downtown Cocktail Room, both of which offer deals on their adroitly mixologized cocktails. But once 7 p.m. hits, it’s time to drift a little further east on Fremont Street to The Beat, where the tourists may not fear to tread, but neither do they linger in Vegas’ own version of a “Portlandia” coffee bar. After 7 p.m., the ubiquitous PBR is only a dollar, and you also get a buck off their trademark peanut butter-and-jelly-and-bacon-and-jalapeño Slap & Tickle sandwich.
Flip though the vinyl, poke around the vintage posters, perhaps check out the Burlesque Hall of Fame or one of the art galleries. The second Thursday of each month features the “Little Tell,” (an offshoot of Dayvid Figler’s semi-monthly storytelling event) where some of our more interesting Las Vegans share tales of backyard boxing matches or managing a Spice Girls tribute act. There’s also trivia on alternate Thursdays. And, well, once things shut down, you can head to the Vanguard Lounge for reverse happy hour. We may be playing it cool, but we’re still playing in Sin City!
520 Fremont St., 409-5563.
Happy hour daily 7-9 p.m.
Summerlin’s Tivoli Gardens is a complex of bars and restaurants styled in an overblown Belle Époque-Renaissance/nouveau riche/Mafioso style. An exception to the extravagance is Bottles & Burgers, where the décor leans more toward industrial minimalism and the menu offers multiple variations on burgers and fries. During happy hour, selected wines are $6, with $2 drafts and specialty cocktails at a discount. Bottles & Burgers also offers options that straddle the wine-cocktail line, including a refreshing frozen take on the Bellini.
If you prefer something more elegant, gourmand/oenophile mecca Aureole also has happy hours in its two wine lounges. Two-for-one pricing on wines by the glass makes a flute of Roederer Champagne less reckless, but still completely indulgent. Cabernets, Merlots, Chardonnays and Rieslings from around the world are also there for the sipping. The restaurant features the eWinebook, those little iPad-like devices that store vast wine lists: Virtually flip through hundreds of bottles as the fabled wine angels whiz by in the dining room, and feel very high-tech and high-living indeed.
Bottles & Burgers, 450 S. Rampart Blvd.,
431-5453. Happy hour daily 4-7 p.m. and
Sun.-Thu. 9 p.m.-closing
Aureole, inside Mandalay Bay, 632-7401.
Happy hour daily 5:30-7 p.m.
Best for sports viewing
Sure, for the finals you might want to be in a roomful of screaming fans, but usually it’s better to watch the game in a slightly more serene atmosphere. Such a place is Henderson’s Urban Grill, a spot with an extensive menu, comfy seating and multiple television screens. However, it’s not your typical over-themed sports pub: While the bar area is set up stadium-style with three levels of seating, there are shining woods and cool tones, with minimal use of autographs and jerseys.
The staff is pleasant and quick to change the channel or pour a refill. Drink specials range from $3 beer (if Bud and Sam Adams cost the same, why would you?) to $5 well drinks. The food starts with the usual bar fare, but mixes in Southwestern and Asian influences and adds polish — mini beef tacos with pico de gallo and avocado cream and pork lettuce wraps with creamy yuzu sauce. Sometimes a birthday party might come in or a band might start up, but hey, who can’t use a little diversion at the bottom of the fourth?
9510 S. Eastern Ave., 432-3200.
Happy hour daily 4-7 p.m.
At AMERICAN FISH, happy hour is rather like “build you own tasting menu” time. Michael Mina’s ARIA outpost is a low-key celebration of American classics. The space is curiously bucolic, with wood-grained walls as well as fake trees and mirrors creating an infinite forest over the bar. If you find that unsettling, you can watch the bustle and flow in the white-tile-and-stainless kitchen, where the swift-moving staff assembles exquisite food.
All of the dozen-plus dishes on the lounge menu are $5 and every one of them is a winner. The Shrimp & Grits are spicy and creamily cheesy. Truffled Mac & Cheese is dotted with chunks of mushroom and green peas and the scrumptious Maine Lobster Roll is a fresh, creamy concoction on just-baked brioche. Unlike many happy hour menus, there are even dessert options. The drinking is worthy of the dining, with cocktails lovingly crafted from fresh, house-made ingredients: Old-school standouts include a well-balanced sidecar and a Moscow Mule served in the classic metal mug.
3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 590-8610.
Happy hour Sun.-Fri. 5-7 p.m.
At its essence, happy hour is supposed to be happy; to raise one’s spirits from being ground down by toil and stress all week. Sunday happy hour at Drink & Drag is the spot most likely to turn a bad mood into a good (or at least meh) one. The room is spacious and stylish and the “girls” are impeccably turned out, flawlessly made-up and as charming as debutantes. Not enough? Bottle beers, wines and well drinks are all $2, with drafts a mere $1. Feeling peckish? Hot dogs and nachos are two bucks, or flag down one of the transvestites with the cigarette-girl tray of Moon Pies and snack cakes.
Still not enough? Pool is free, as are board games (Operation!) and bowling is only a dollar a game. If you’re lucky, they might be showing a double bill of “Serial Mom” and “Mommie Dearest.” Haven’t turned that frown upside down, yet? Just wait until a half-dozen drag queens in Reagan-era MTV realness launch into a vivacious lip-synch of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
450 Fremont St., 489-3724.
Happy hour Sun. 4 p.m.-4 a.m.
Simon draws a mix of visitors and locals, with a fair number of regulars. Poshly mid-century, with glittery chandeliers, low banquettes and sleek retro furniture, it looks out through glass doors onto a blue-toned area with pools, lounges, cabanas and shimmering mosaic tile. You could be in Miami, you could be in Los Angeles, you could even be in certain parts of South America, but at Simon it doesn’t feel like Vegas — and that’s an important part of happy hour in and of itself.
The bartenders are quick with a joke and adroit with a cocktail shaker. With most options for $6, the varied happy hour provides selections from far and wide — from wok-seared edamame to pizza to sushi to pigs-in-a-blanket. Have a fruit-laden sangria or one of their wickedly delicious mojitos and sense yourself drifting even further away.
4381 W. Flamingo Road, 944-3292.
Happy hour Mon.–Fri. 4-7 p.m.
Pick up your Desert Companion today at one of these Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Jamba Juice locations.
Also available at Clark County and Henderson libraries.