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NOVEMBER 2014
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November 22 Alex Boyé Ham Hall, UNLV Click over to the Tube of You for Boyé’s videos: Africanized versions of pop songs you...   
Nov. 21, 7p; Nov 22, 6p & 9p. Adams has inspired a growing legion of fans in the U.S. and Europe with journeys of the heart via songs that draw...   
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Whether you’re toasting a milestone, sipping on a date night or sealing the deal, raise a glass to your new favorite drinking spots

 

CELEBRATE

Atomic Liquors

With free parking, an enormous bar, and indoor and outdoor seating, Atomic Liquors has few downtown competitors when it comes to throwing a party. But the joint’s spaciousness wouldn’t mean a thing if you couldn’t get a delicious cocktail or locally brewed beer when you want it. Atomic has that all sewn up, too. No matter the size of the crowd, friendly bartenders speedily serve up everything from Dark and Stormys to Tenaya Creeks at prices that all in tow can swing. Cheers: The Strawberry Fields ($10) is a mouth-watering concoction of gin, Campari, ginger, basil, and fresh strawberry that will have you channeling John Lennon all night. MO

917 Fremont St., 702-982-3000, atomiclv.com

Strawberry fields

Fizz

This glacial, future-luxe cathedral of shimmer and swank looks like a cocktail bar designed by C3PO, but its true origins are decidedly more terrestrial: Fizz is the brainchild of filmmaker David Furnish. Makes sense, given the cinematic verve of Fizz’s mansion ceilings and gleaming ovoid fixtures. If you want to mark a milestone with some theatrically posh bubbly among your closest friends, Fizz is the place for memory-making, with a menu that ranges from inspired variations on the champagne cocktail to drinkable desserts (the peanut butter-and-jelly Hercules) to one-percenter energy drinks (Fizz Deluxe, a $2,500 Dom Perignon-based brew topped with a gold-dusted rose petal). Yes, it’s a hangover, but take solace in the fact that it’s a thousand-dollar hangover. AK

Caesars Palace, 702-776-3200, fizzlv.com

 

Aces & Ales

There’s no need to argue over a few pitchers of crappy beer when you party at Aces & Ales, home to more than 150 different types of bottled craft beer ranging from casual favorites like Sierra Nevada to higher-end brews (hello, Firestone Walker and Goose Island). That’s not to mention the 50 tap beers on constant rotation and a generous tequila and cocktail menu. Community seating is encouraged at long, high tables; feel free to mix and mingle, inviting others to celebrate your birthday, new job or the fact it’s finally Friday. Large rooms are available for private parties and special events. JH

3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 702-436-7600; 2801 N. Tenaya Way, 702-638-2337, acesandales.com

 

Scarlet

There’s just something about being smack-dab in the middle of the Palms that makes party-times even party-timesier. You’ll feel like the center of the buzz in this gleaming bar that offers the best whiskey drinks this side of, well, anywhere. The staff is attentive; the seating, comfy and chic and full of little nooks, even though the bar’s presented as a centerpiece attraction. Dress to the nines and raise many a glass to that new promotion, birthday or engagement. JP

Inside the Palms, 702-933-9900, palms.com

 

Double Down Saloon

Sometimes you want your celebration to involve something special, something a little fancier, pricier, more decorous than usual, where you wash the car and wear your good shoes. But sometimes you just want to have a bunch of drinks, shout over a band and do shots. Thus, the Double Down. Gatherings here tend to be casual and impromptu, but make up in execution what they may lack in planning. The people you invited are there, along with the guy from Portland you just met and the Dutch tourist you were talking to earlier, as well as a bunch of bikers who are celebrating a birthday and some clowns … no, really, a bunch of people in clown makeup. The next day, you’ll have a few strange stories, a handful of vaguely incriminating photographs and a slight headache. And isn’t that how the day after the party should be? LTR

4640 Paradise Road, 702-791-5775, doubledownsaloon.com

 

BE SEEN

Gold Spike

Gold Spike

Despite what you might’ve heard, the Gold Spike is much more than a Zappos hangout. Yes, the young and fun crowd’s there on the regular playing life-sized Connect Four, but so are 30- and 40-somethings out for a night on the town. Endless seating options — from comfy indoor chairs to a kitschy-cool patio — and an open floor plan make it the perfect place to spot people you know or meet those you don’t. You could run into your next business partner while pool-sharking or spy the future love of your life perched on a barstool. Cheers: With a whole wall of self-serve hot sauce, you’d be a fool not to do a DIY michelada, so order your favorite lager with lime and go to town. MO

217 Las Vegas Blvd N., 702-476-1082, goldspike.com

 

The Barrymore

The swank feel of this classy — and classic — bar and restaurant recalls the days of the Rat Pack; Frank, Sammy and Dino would feel right at home amid the intimate environs decorated with golden movie reels and mirrors. We’re most at home, however, in the luxurious outdoor patio, The Barrymore’s conversation piece of conversation pieces; the stylish set come out in droves, so pick up a martini and a shrimp cocktail and be seen. JP

99 Convention Center Drive, 702-407-5303, barrymorelv.com

 

Petrossian 

It’s no accident that this elevated lounge is located adjacent to the hotel lobby — with its chic European feel and Steinway grand piano, Petrossian’s guests were meant to be showcased. Jet-setters come here for quick business meetings, caviar cocktails and tea service every afternoon from 1-4 p.m. There are a few semi-private rooms here but, for maximum exposure, sit by the piano. In the evenings, nothing less than cocktail attire will do. JP

Bellagio, 702-693-7111, bellagio.com

 

WATCH THE GAME

Crown and Anchor

Crown & Anchor British Pub

Club flags and uniforms hang from the A-frame beams here, the only spot for major futbol matches, from a Manchester derby (United v. City, and it’s pronounced darby) to the Three Lions (the English national team) in the upcoming World Cup. Arrive early for a seat, especially if you hanker for a steak and kidney pie, bangers and mash, or the staple fish and chips. Fuller’s London Pride from the tap is a treat; the ale is rare enough by the bottle. The Scotch egg is delectable and can be enjoyed standing up in tight confines — when nothing should shock your ears. A Scottish kiss? Hear those words and run like hell. RM

1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-739-8676, crownandanchorlv.com

 

The Rum Runner Lounge

With décor from the mid-’80s that’s not going anywhere anytime soon, the Rum Runner is hardly highbrow. That’s because there’s only one thing they care about: sports. Traditionally a Cheesehead bar, this time of year, you can catch basketball, baseball and even hockey. If you’re lucky, the regular bartender Garth might even take a shine to you and comp your already dirt-cheap drinks. Cheers: This isn’t the kind of place that puts a twist of ginger in your drink, so order up a satisfying $3 mug of beer or a well whiskey Coke. MO

1801 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-736-6366, rumrunnervegas.com

 

Hofbrauhaus

This keen replica of the legendary Munich brewhouse is a choice spot to take in a Deutschland World Cup match (especially on June 26, when the U.S. plays Germany). The huge beer garden will be cool compared to the outside swelter, and feature large-screen TVs. On May 25, only the Hotel de Paris will offer better viewing of the Monaco Grand Prix; here, however, you’ll preserve your eardrums and have the luxury of replays for the exotic Formula One race. Six varieties of kegs are shipped in from Germany and the steins are deep, so savor every sip. The sauerbraten and schnitzel are just as authentic. Bitte. RM

4510 Paradise Road, 702-853-2337, hofbrauhauslasvegas.com

 

The LVH

Twenty-eight giant screens and a massive 15-by-20-foot job make the SuperBook, the largest sports book in the world, a superb destination for any NFL Sunday. Drinks are still comped if you bet, an evaporating trend around town. The LVH increases its cachet with its 1,700-seat surround-sound theater, where they show up to 10 games. That’s Football Central. The usual beers and hot dogs are two bucks apiece. It’s just far enough from the Strip to avoid the amateur-hour antics of Joe Tourist. It’s easy in, easy out. And manager Jay Kornegay is without peer for the wagering opportunities his crew provides and for being approachable. Inquire about his Broncos at your own peril. RM

3000 Paradise Road, 702-732-5111, thelvh.com

 

Yard House

Yard HouseThe parched need look no further than this glorious establishment and its 100-plus beer taps. That includes the elusive Longboard, which transports me to Waimea Bay and the Eddie big-wave contest in memory of Eddie Aikau. Three dozen TV screens offer views of sporting contests from every angle of the expansive room. There are three Yard Houses in the valley, but this is no cookie-cutter joint. My favorite location, in Town Square, boasts several ciders and even has two beers for the gluten-challenged. The menu features entrees such as miso-glazed sea bass and ginger-crusted Norwegian salmon. But the fried chicken breast, served over spinach-corn mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy, turns common fare into a delicacy. RM

6593 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-734-9273, yardhouse.com

 

Born and Raised

Owned by a cadre of native Las Vegans, BAR is the city’s best (if not only) sports bar and grill built for fans of Runnin’ Rebel basketball (and any other UNLV sport lucky enough to be televised). Rebel memorabilia adorns most wall space not flashed-up by one of the dozens of flat-screens. During college hoops season, every one of those screens is showcasing the Rebels, for better or worse. In a city where almost everyone maintains an allegiance to a team “back home,” it’s nice to have a spot where locals can gather and scream at the TV. And when the game hurts, there’s plenty of quality grub for you to emotionally eat. Cheers: With 20 beers on tap and 18 more by the bottle, the choice is amber. JPR

7250 S. Cimarron Road, 702-685-0258, bornandraisedlv.com

 

CATCH A BAND

Artifice

Artifice

We can’t put a finger on why this place feels so
comfortable and lived-in just a few years after launch, but it does. The historic location — in a 1950s electrical supply warehouse also once used as a laundry for the Lady Luck Casino — can’t hurt. Neither does the rustic, artsy interior. And with its huge dance floor/stage/performance space set aside from the main bar, Artifice does a great job of being something to almost everyone. The bar hosts a variety of DJ events, theme nights, artsy classes, spoken word and, yes, live music. We’ve seen everything here from indie rock to experimental jazz, from Tippy Elvis to The Clydesdale. Cheers: Artifice appears a whiskey and beer kind of place, but there’s a small menu of tasty cocktails as well. JPR

1025 S. First St. #100, 702-489-6339, artificebar.com

 

Boulevard Pool

The Boulevard Pool provides a sort of full-surround sensory overkill that adds an extra dimension to shows and excuses less-fabulous aspects (imperfect sound; pricey drinks), whatever band is playing. The location above the Strip puts you on-level with the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, the top of the Bellagio fountains and The Cosmopolitan’s giant Blade Runner-like sign, with the dark blue desert sky stretching above. The bands that play there tend to lend themselves to the extravagance of the setting — the Queens of the Stone Age and their soaring, epic rock; New Order’s glorious post-modern multimedia dance party; the Flaming Lips and their upbeat, whimsical floor show — raining beach balls and confetti down onto Las Vegas Boulevard traffic with no ill effects. LTR

The Cosmopolitan, 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-698-7000,
cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

 

Money Plays

Money plays

Humble stalwart Money Plays is as no-nonsense as watering holes come: It’s basically a functional envelope of strip-mall space containing a king-size bar with a complement of 100 bottled beers — from Rolling Rock to Rogue Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Ale — and 20 taps. It’s a friendly weekday stop-and-sip magnet for regulars, but Thursdays and Fridays, Money Plays hosts an 8 p.m. open mic organized (and painstakingly recorded, filmed and produced) by scenester superhero Mike Ziethlow of VegasOnTheMic.com. This is the place to catch serious music-scene talent, from strum-happy indie elves to bling-drenched crunk-rock crews. Second Saturdays feature artists hand-plucked from the open-mic scrum. Either way, it’s all music to your beers. AK

4755 W. Flamingo Road, 702-368-1828, moneyplayslv.com

Hard Rock Live on the Strip

The Dandy Warhols, Kid Meets Cougar, James … these are bands you could glimpse from the way-way-back of The Cosmo’s Boulevard Pool. If that’s wearing on you, check out the lineup at the Hard Rock Live (Black Flag’s coming, who knew?). This airy venue books local and national bands and has a spacious balcony overlooking the Strip. The sound and lights are always spot-on, but the best part is that it’s almost never crowded. This means you can get up close and personal with your favorite bands and potentially even have room to dance. Remember dancing at shows? Cheers: The drinks will probably not rock your world as much as your wallet; go for their $12 strong-pour mojito to get your money’s worth. MO

3771 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-733-7625, hardrock.com

 

HAVE A CONVERSATION

Blind Pig

The Blind Pig

Friendly and intimate, this gathering spot is perfect for meeting up after work and sampling cocktails — the drinks, such as Señor Pooh Bear, (a margarita with a honey-powder rim) are top-notch, and served by genuinely genial bartenders. Well-suited to conversation, the bar, tables and booths are set up to maximize connectivity. Whether you’ve come for a quick bite or plan to kvetch into the wee hours, this is the place to do it. JP

Panorama Towers, 4515 Dean Martin Drive, 702-430-4444,
theblindpiglasvegas.com

 

West Wing Bar

Deep in the bowels of the MGM behemoth lurks a hidden gem, a quiet oasis of refinement and solitude, far away from the madding crowds of lions and strollers and vomiting party girls. The West Wing Bar is tucked away near the northwest corner of the hotel, a bastion of old-school class inexplicably languishing mere feet from the Strip, at the end of an alley behind M&Ms World. The vibe is low-key 1960s bachelor pad — plenty of comfy mid-mod-style sofas, and jazz playing at just the right volume to allow for the lost art of long, rambling conversations. Cheers: Make like a Mad Man with a good old-fashioned Old Fashioned ($12). SJW

MGM Grand, 702-891-8521, mgmgrand.com

 

Champagne’s Café

Champagne’s Café has always felt like the kind of place where two hoods get together to plan a hit in a Scorsese movie — velvet wallpaper, dim lighting, Dino giving way to Creedence on the jukebox. Even if your chat is of a less sinister nature (and let’s hope it is), Champagne’s still makes an excellent backdrop for swapping stories or consoling the broken-hearted. Weekend evenings bring in karaoke and a rowdier crowd. But a loaded housewife doing a wandering-pitch rendition of “Strangers in the Night” might be just the thing to fill any awkward conversational pauses. LTR

3557 S. Maryland Parkway, 702-737-1699

 

Huntridge Tavern

We all try to come up with a classier favorite when asked by out-of-towners, but it’s hard to beat the Tavern. It’s a neighborhood bar that on any night of the week could be serving a mess of punk-rock cyclists, a theater group getting out of rehearsal, or a bunch of old-timers barely holding down barstools. More often than not, though, the place will have an empty booth waiting and a cold round of the world’s cheapest Long Island iced teas ready to go. Cheers: Don’t make a rookie mistake by ordering anything but a $2 beer or $3 well drink. MO

122 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-384-7377

 

McMullan’s Irish Pub

The home to the valley’s best trivia night (Tuesdays 8 p.m.) is a great gathering spot to get together and catch up over a great pint and a plate of Irish nachos. Hole up in a cozy nook and shoot the breeze, but rest assured, you won’t be forgotten — the attentive waitstaff always seem to know when you’re ready for the next round. JP

4650 W. Tropicana Ave. #110, 702-247-7000, mcmullansirishpub.com

 

Herbs & Rye

Herbs and RyeThis building bleeds old Vegas. We’re thankful, then, that Nectaly Mendoza rescued it from a series of ill-advised runs as a video poker joint, reclaiming what was once the Ruvo family’s old school Venetian Ristorante and turning it into this wonderful Italian steakhouse and classic cocktail bar. Even before several recent aesthetic tweaks, H&R’s lounge was a stellar spot to meet for a chat. Now that the TVs and the DJ booth have been permanently removed in favor of a listenable mix of period-correct swing and jazz, there might not be a better off-Strip spot for a second date or business meeting. Cheers: While we deeply dig the Hemingway (a hand-mixed daiquiri, natch) our fave libation is the sneakily potent Ford, a turn-of-the-20th-century orange-tinged gin martini variant. JPR

3713 W. Sahara Ave., 702-982-8036, herbsandrye.com

 

ENJOY THE AMBIANCE

Gaudi Bar

Gaudí Bar

Yes, it’s a casino bar. But at what other casino bar are you going to feel like you’re being bear-hugged by a psychedelic jellyfish from another dimension? Constructed in homage to Antoni Gaudí, the Spanish architect whose melted-waxwork buildings followed a strange music all their own, the Gaudí Bar commands the Sunset Station casino floor like an undulating, radioactive mushroom. Okay, so Gaudí considered his buildings to be avatars of his deep meditations on nature and God; the Gaudí Bar is anything but. But it is an avatar of delightfully frivolous, fruity and oversweet $5 happy-hour novelty martinis (the blue one tastes like puréed bananas, the pink one like tropical Lifesaver soup) — and with each successive sip, the ceiling breathes deeper. Of course. AK

Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Road, 888-786-7389, sunsetstation.sclv.com

 

Tower Suite Bar

Sneak a peek into the lives of the One Percent at this swanky, old-school lobby bar located at the base of the snooty Wynn Hotel’s even snootier VIP tower. Sip a cocktail surrounded by lush potted palms, gleaming brass fixtures and gorgeous mosaics, and watch the comings and goings of the Other Half — bluebloods and capitalist kingpins and high-class escorts, oh my. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a reality TV star or celebrity athlete — but the real fun is watching the wealthy crones of the Old Guard turn up their man-made noses at these nouveau riche poseurs. Cheers: Drown your ennui in a classic martini ($12). If you ask nicely, the bartender might even add a dash of Botox. SJW

Wynn Las Vegas, 702-770-7000, wynnlasvegas.com

 

The Saloon at Bonnie Springs Ranch

When you’re all Vegased out, head to the western edge of town, past the last subdivision, and follow Blue Diamond Road through the canyon to Bonnie Springs Ranch — a weathered wooden relic from a bygone age, when men were men and their showgirl wives retired to the boonies to open dude ranches. Aside from its petting zoo and Old West shtick, Bonnie Springs also offers a classic frontier-style saloon, complete with sawdust floors and dollar bills stapled to the ceiling, and a wood-burning stove in the corner for those frosty winter nights. After a few beers, you won’t even feel like you’re in this century, let alone Vegas. Cheers: It’s a saloon; what else but a shot of whiskey ($5) with a beer back ($4)? SJW

16395 Bonnie Springs Road, 702-875-4191, bonniesprings.com

 

The Lady Silvia

Lady SilviaWalls of gilded book spines surround an array of brocade chairs set on a black and white checkerboard floor in this dimly lit lounge. A little hideaway inside SoHo Lofts, The Lady Silvia’s perfect for sipping a cocktail and soaking up the sparkling speakeasy atmosphere. Patrons are as likely to be treated to a live DJ spinning spacey dance music or Nina Simone softly singing in the background. That’s the surprise of this chicly re-imagined Korova Milk Bar aesthetic: You never know what you’ll find. Cheers: The Sidecar ($11) with its citrusy homage to cognac will make you want to move in for good. MO

900 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #140, 702-405-0816, theladysilvia.com

 

Rio Las Vegas Wine Cellar & Tasting Room

Improbable but true: There’s a drafty, stone-brick Italianate wine cellar buried in the rum-drunk neon-feathered treehouse that is the Rio, which causes brain-hurt if you think about it too much. But going from clamor to calm is part of the pleasure of spiraling down the staircase into the couches, cubbies and bottle-stocked cloisters of this hideaway. Other pleasures: a flight menu in a range of prices and themes — try The Tango for a tour of lively South American reds, or plunge into the Shiraz/Syrah menu for four glasses of fruit-forward fun — and polite, efficient service from soft-spoken waiters who know to let the wine do the talking. AK

Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, 702-777-7962, riolasvegas.com

 

Seahorse Lounge at Caesars Palace

One of the few venues at Caesars that hasn’t been revamped, the architecturally stunning Seahorse Lounge is a source for both wonderment and merriment. The wonderment comes in the form of a 1,700-gallon centerpiece aquarium filled with Australian potbelly seahorses; your visit alone could be spent watching these entrancing animals gracefully float through the water. The merriment comes in one of the best specialty cocktail lists in town. JP

Caesars Palace, 702-731-7778, caesarspalace.com

 

Bar + Bistro

Bar & Bistro

It’s hard to beat a place with a patio, and the Arts District’s Bar + Bistro boasts a big one, complete with a fire/conversation pit and various chairs and tables (both sunny and under cover) where you can get cozy with your Stella and, hey, if you’re feeling it, grab some grub. Some lean toward the vegetarian paella, but we prefer a plate of fresh roasted pig from the wood-burning spit, which when it’s spinning infuses the entire joint with a lazy luau vibe (not to mention a glorious wood aroma). Pair that with bluegrass by locals Out of the Desert, or perhaps a little accordion music, and you have a perfect Sunday spot to sort out what happened last night. Cheers: The Bloody Marys are magnificent; try yours with beer as a Michelada Preparada. JPR

107 E. Charleston Blvd. #155, 702-202-6060, barbistroaf.com

 

Peppermill

We’ll admit we’re not fans of the TVs inexplicably hung everywhere (here’s hoping that those over the sunken conversation pit eventually disappear). But not much “Old Vegas” remains, on the Strip or anywhere, so it’s nice that this velvety make-out pad still swings like the 1970s never stopped. Gas up the Caddy, grab your honey, park in the back (being certain it’s the Peppermill lot!), and slide in the rear entrance like a made man. What’s this? Neon-lit mirrors and ferns? A water-filled fire pit? Servers in classy cocktail dresses? Yes, yes, yes! Cheers: The fishbowl-sized Scorpion is perfect for snuggling and sharing. JPR

2985 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-735-4177, peppermilllasvegas.com

 

Mandarin Bar

Up, up and away from the bustle and Strip hustlers, this lobby bar is the choice spot for peering down at the crazies and thinking, “Ah, but for the grace of the Mandarin Oriental, there go I.” Located 23 stories up the eerily serene hotel (yes, that’s where the lobby is), the Mandarin Bar plants a previously unseen level of urbane sophistication on the Strip. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide the kind of glorious vantage normally reserved for boisterous nightclubs — without the lines or the shots of Fireball. You’ll want to spruce up a bit before coming here, but it’s well worth the effort. Luxurious, pricey, and upscale. JPR

CityCenter, 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-580-8888, mandarinoriental.com

 

NETWORK

Velveteen Rabbit

Velveteen Rabbit

It’s hard to believe that a bar hosting daring DJs and live indie rock has emerged as a great networking spot, but it has. Perhaps it’s the Rabbit’s location, clearly downtown but away from manic Fremont East. Maybe it’s the bar’s “backyard” patio, or its wood shutters lifted to invite the sunlight inside. Or, the purposeful and deep beer menu. Whatever it is, this Arts District craft cocktail bar attracts all number of attorneys, media types and downtown suits almost every weeknight during happy hour, when well drinks are an easy five bucks. It seems like at least once a week, some downtown office or meet-up group has made Velveteen Rabbit the designated spot for an after-work social. Time to make it yours. JPR

1281 S. Main St., 702-685-9645, facebook.com/velveteenrabbit

 

Charlie Palmer Steak

It’s the ultimate steakhouse bar, complete with dark wood paneling, master craftsmen mixing the drinks and the smells of delicious meat wafting in from the restaurant. The bar at Charlie Palmer Steak is quick and convenient; you can use the Four Seasons valet for easy-in, easy-out access, but the convenience doesn’t come at the price of quality. There may be more people checking out the Four Seasons new indoor/outdoor venue Press, but skip that, head to the bar at Charlie Palmer’s and get yourself an old-school martini. SS

3960 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-632-5120, charliepalmer.com

 

West Wing Cigar Lounge

The city’s newest cigar bar has only been open for a few weeks, but already it’s become a gathering spot for people looking to relax as well as do business. Fashioned in a political theme, complete with a mini-Oval Office replica, the lounge boasts a growing cigar selection, a top-notch drink menu obviously curated by an expert, and a friendly, welcoming staff. Leather couches and chairs offer enough privacy for important conversations, but enough openness to enjoy the room. A small but delicious dinner menu means you won’t have to leave to get a good meal, either. Cheers: First, try a Scotch (they’ve got plenty) and then chase it with a Turkish coffee. SS

4265 S. Durango Drive, 702-901-4222, westwingcigar lounge.com

 

Gordon Biersch

The Las Vegas outpost of this chain has been around for a long time, and it’s not hard to see why: The oldest Sin City outlet is conveniently located in the power-drenched Howard Hughes Center, a natural gathering place for lawyers and consultants with offices nearby. It’s also a centrally located meeting spot for politicos coming from opposite ends of the valley. The eponymous beer is always a good choice, but there’s a fully stocked bar if you want something stronger, and a menu that ranges from artery-clogging death all the way to live-forever healthy. SS

3987 Paradise Road, 702-312-5247, gordonbiersch.com

 

The Capital Grille

Only in Las Vegas could a mall be a political meeting place, but then again, only in Las Vegas will you find one of the top steakhouse chains sitting comfortably over the Strip. The curving, narrow bar doesn’t boast the restaurant’s beautiful views of the Wynn, Encore or the Palazzo, but it has been a gathering spot for politicos for a long time. Regulars know to either use the valet, or to find a parking spot in the mall’s garage near one of the elevators that take patrons up the back way, closest to the bar, where one can enter and leave without striding through the restaurant. The bartenders here are attentive and good at their job, whether it’s a busy Friday night or a quiet Wednesday afternoon. SS

3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-932-6631, thecapitalgrille.com

 

McCormick & Schmick’s

It’s the bar where the infamous 2006 incident in which then-Congressman Jim Gibbons (a future one-term Nevada governor) was accused of trying to sexually assault cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo began. The popular seafood chain’s bar is actually kind of small compared to the rest of the restaurant, but it’s an excellent happy-hour meeting place for the Hughes Center crowd anyway. There are seats at the bar, tables and cozy booths. Although the décor suggests tradition (mahogany, brass, stained glass) the bar serves up trendy cocktails as well as old-school stuff. SS

335 Hughes Center Drive, 702-836-9000, mccormickandschmicks.com

 

Downtown Cocktail Room

Downtown cocktail roomA bar that took a chance long before Zappos.com moved into City Hall or the Fremont East area even existed, DCR, as it’s known, is a great place to meet with lawyers, local government officials, or consultants after work. You may even catch a glimpse of downtown’s major domo, Zappos chief Tony Hsieh, whose love affair with downtown is said to have begun in this very bar. Specialty cocktails are a must when you drink here. Let your bartender be your guide. SS

111 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-880-3696, thedowntownlv.com

 

Triple George

The bar is the main feature of this downtown watering hole, a see-and-be-seen area that shares space with private dining booths for more sensitive meetings. It’s a great spot for the happy-hour crowd from downtown’s legal and government sectors, even as it’s seen a greater influx of tourists since the renovation and open of the adjacent Downtown Grand. The menu is unchanging, save for the specials, which are always excellent. (The “Downtown Wings” are the hidden secret: They’re among the best in the valley.) Wash them down with beer, or a glass of wine from the corner wine cabinet. SS

201 N. Third St., 702-384-2761, triplegeorgegrill.com

 

Morton’s

An expanded bar in this steakhouse at Flamingo and Paradise roads was a welcome addition for political types who like to see before they’re seen. (People just entering from outside, especially before sunset, haven’t had time to allow their eyes to adjust to the low light inside.) The bar is ridiculously well-stocked, the happy hour menu is top-notch, and there’s a wine tower in the corner to tempt you to drink more, or even stay for dinner. Parking requires either valet (in the front) or a short walk (in the back). They will make any drink you desire, but there’s just something about sipping a classic Scotch or a sparkling martini in a steakhouse. SS

400 E. Flamingo Road, 702-893-0703, mortons.com

 

Hank’s

The steakhouse inside the Green Valley Ranch was named for Las Vegas Sun founder and publisher Hank Greenspun, back in the days when the Greenspun family had an interest in the casino company. All that’s left now is the name, but thankfully, the quality of the restaurant or its bar hasn’t changed. The bar is ultra-modern, with underlit tables, plenty of metal accents but an old-school piano for live music. It’s very spacious, so there’s almost always a seat, and for Henderson-based business types, it’s extremely convenient. The martini is a specialty (they claim the finest in Las Vegas), but there are virtually no limits to what you can imbibe here. SS

2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, 702-617-7075, greenvalleyranch.sclv.com

 

 

ESCAPE THE STRIP (WHILE ON  THE STRIP)

Hyde Bellagio

Hyde Bellagio

The name, of course, like any clever place worth checking out, is a pun. Hyde Bellagio is a patio bar hidden behind the Bellagio fountain, but the bar is also the Strip’s laidback alter-ego. The white canvas furniture and greenery make you feel like you’re in the Hamptons instead of the sleek house that Wynn built. Arrive before 10 p.m. and skip the cover charge, the scene and being seen. After a couple different water shows and a few drinks, your inner Hyde may be tempted to reveal itself, but that’s okay, no one can see you. Cheers: $17 might be steep for a Bellini, but it’s pretty cheap for the experience of being beamed to another place and time. MO

3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-693-8700, bellagio.com

 

Comme Ça

The so-called deluxification of the Strip in recent years hasn’t changed the ground game much. In casinos, on sidewalks, at bars, the shambling masses still clutch well drinks, light beers and daiquiris in Eiffel Towers and Statues of Liberty. But there are small islands of civility and good taste on the Strip, such as at Comme Ça. Their 18A cocktail menu is a faithful throwback to Prohibition, when a nationwide federal crackdown, ironically, inspired a sort of cocktail rebellion-cum-renaissance that focused anew on craft. And craft is in full effect here — in the rich and complex Sazerac, in the bitey but smooth Gordon’s Cup, and in mischievous riffs such as the Mezcal Old Fashioned. AK

The Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7910, commecarestaurant.com

 

Press

This non-gaming resort from the luxe Four Seasons brand has long been the place to get away from the ding and the bling of the Strip. Even better, the property recently accomplished a welcome freshening, and in adding the Press lounge to what was before a staid and quiet lobby, they reinvigorated their status as the place where in-the-know locals go for a quiet respite. Echoing the country club feel of the hotel’s Verandah, Press offers comfy indoor-outdoor seating replete with fire pits, couches and twinkly lights, and offers a selection of tasty small plates (including something very much like New York’s famous, trademarked Cronuts), and a menu of classic and tiki-style cocktails. Service is excellent, and happy hour prices make us even happier. JPR

Four Seasons, 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-632-5000, fourseasons.com

 

Stage Door Casino

The Strip does not lack for bars — every property is rife with mixology bars and piano lounges and margarita joints and Irish pubs and country saloons. But one thing you cannot find in the vast Caesars/Harrah’s dominion is a decent dive bar. For that, you must go about 50 yards off the Strip, to the Stage Door, a classic dive. It sits in the shadow of the monorail with a mini-mart and Italian restaurant. They have Jäger shots and hot dogs and cheap beer, the game — several games — on the televisions overdubbed by a soundtrack of Journey, AC/DC and other classic FM radio rock. Hunkered down around the bar are teamsters, tourists, conventioneers, bachelor parties and bemused locals. Yes, locals, which should tell you how un-Strip the Stage Door is. LTR

4000 Audrie St., 702-733-0214

 

 

UNWIND

Rí Rá

Ri Ra

The Guinness (and other beers) never stop flowing, and around every corner, there’s a new adventure. But it’s the homey feel that makes this Irish standout feel like you’ve found your own neighborhood bar — right on the Strip. Rí Rá has multiple bars in multiple rooms, each painstakingly created with genuine artifacts from the Emerald Isle. JP

Mandalay Place, 702-632-7771, rira.com

 

Hard Hat Lounge

After a hard day of work — or in the middle of it, we’re not judging — sometimes you just want a drink, without dealing with inscrutable cocktail menus, throngs of fancifully moustached hipsters or soul-crushing pop music. Enter The Hard Hat Lounge. We’re not certain if the mural-adorned, dim-and-smoky venue’s claim of being the oldest continuously operating tavern in Las Vegas is true, but we do know this: Drinks are cheap and strong (a Pabst and a shooter is always $4), charming early-evening bartender Nora remembers your libation of choice, and despite the preponderance of Fox News-tuned TVs, the atmosphere is relaxed, genial and best of all, free of the bullhonky from your workaday existence — or the outside world altogether. PJP

1675 Industrial Road, 702-384-8987, hardhatlounge.org

Frankie's Tiki Room

Frankie’s Tiki Room

The story of Frankie’s is well-documented: Respected bar proprietor enlists pedigreed tiki designer to remake old Vegas bar into a modern classic, tended by friendly faces who create a killer menu spotlighting both old- and new-wave rum bombs. What’s not as well known is that Frankie’s is an excellent place to disappear any time of the day or night. Maybe it’s Frankie’s stance, just-far-enough from downtown. Or perhaps the pitch-black-at-noon ambience. Or the uniquely memorable Vegas aura of perfume, tobacco and hair spray. Whatever it is, whenever we drop in, the place is perfectly busy and populated by exactly one person we know well: the barkeep. Cheers: Three Dots & A Dash is Frankie’s mod interpretation of the Navy Grog; one will get you just groggy enough to forget the day. JPR

1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-385-3110, frankiestikiroom.com

 

Embers

Inasmuch as Vegas’ urban chi is devoted to a pure expression of the strip mall consumer-plex, Boca Park is close to a model entry, a muscular hybrid of midmarket and yupscale, utility and pleasure. But, damn, does it ever tire you out. Embers is a posh-ish video poker bistro that does oasis duty amid Boca Park’s asphalt lagoons and stucco cliffs, with its dark woods and dim lighting — even patio-noshing against the parking lot is classed up with a babbling fountain and rows of lighted trees. Cheers: Classic cocktails are as omnipresent as light beer these days, but these people get it right. The Aviation is perfectly proper, but The Vesper is potent, head-whirling therapy in a glass. AK

740 S. Rampart Blvd. #7, 702-778-2160, emberslasvegas.com

 

Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Hookah Lounge

Babylon SpiceSlipping into Paymon’s is like embarking on a magic carpet ride, next stop Nirvana: Even in the searing depths of July, this sumptuously appointed chillspace is dark, cool and supremely peaceful. Settle back into mounds of plush, embroidered cushions, order a cocktail, and watch your worries go up in a cloud of fragrant flavored smoke. The gentle one-two punch of hookah and booze will have you comfortably numb in no time, and before you know it you’ll have forgotten all about your bad day/broken heart/bench warrants. Cheers: the mellow, rum-based Babylon Spice ($8) pairs perfectly with a bowl of stress-evaporating coconut-flavored hookah. SJW

8380 W. Sahara Ave., 702-804-0293, paymons.com

 

Laguna Champagne Bar

You’ve got that surge of adrenaline from a concert or a casino win, but it’s a school night — what to do? Why, head to this charming lounge where bartenders specialize in imaginative champagne cocktails. And you thought nightcaps were out of style! JP

The Palazzo, 702-607-7777, palazzo.com


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