When I visit Las Vegas and I’m not at a sports book or on the gaming floor, I’m probably hiding out in a bar.
Lucky for me, in recent years Sin City has become one of the greatest drinking cities in the country. The town is home to two of my all-time favorite mixologists—Mariena Mercer, who runs the cocktail program at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; and Juyoung Kang, who runs the bar program at Delmonico Steakhouse inside The Venetian. I’ve written about their respective bars before, but here are some new faves.
The hottest bar in downtown Las Vegas—Fremont East, to be exact—opened in December 2015 and has drawn rave reviews for its eclectic approach ever since. What makes F. Pigalle so great? For starters, Pigalle serves fondue. Cheese, shrimp, beef, and chocolate are among the options; most dishes are priced around US$20. F. Pigalle serves wine, too—in baby bottles. Yes, you read that right: baby bottles. According to a buddy in the industry, the bottles are an obtuse reference to a Parisian glass tax levied on stemmed glasses in the early 1800s (the whole place has a bit of a French vibe). What I love most about this place are the cocktails. Mixologists offer a list of specialty cocktails. One of the best of the bunch: Violet Beauregarde, which features Hendricks Gin, Thatcher’s Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime, blueberry-lavender syrup, champagne, and violet perfume.
Located next to Rivea at the top of Delano Las Vegas, Skyfall Lounge has some of the best views in all of Sin City. Cocktails here are rooted in the classics, but have been reinterpreted using contemporary techniques, unexpected flavors, and ingredients. As such, the menu is broken down into three distinct profiles: brown, bubbly, and martinis. My personal favorite feature at Skyfall is the old-fashioned service through which any bottle of aged spirit can be ordered with an old-fashioned cocktail set up. (I’m not as much a fan of the nightly DJs playing house music; that’s just not my scene.) Despite the name, there is no James Bond theme here—just killer cocktails and an epic view.
Viewfinder Tip: Ask about to-go cocktails; many of the top Las Vegas bars now offer negroni in bottles and other cocktails you can take when you leave.
Palms Casino Resort is far enough off the Strip that many visitors consider it an afterthought. SOCIAL makes the resort worth visiting. The bar, situated in the center of the casino floor, has a cocktail menu that is the brainchild of Mia Mastroianni from Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. From the “Old Fashioned Hacker,” made with black walnut bitters and rye, to a twist on the classic Gold Rush with lemon juice and rosemary-infused honey, each drink is a unique creation found only at SOCIAL. The bar also boasts fun hashtag cocktail stencils, color-changing “OMG blue ice cubes,” and SOCIAL Bowls, which bring large-format cocktails to groups of six to eight. Guests can choose from 10 different bowl options, each priced at US$140. It’s the ultimate party splurge.
Looking forward, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw some love at Beerhaus, which was slated to open in April 2016 as part of The Park, MGM’s grand approach to T-Mobile Arena on the south end of the Strip. This place will be a craft brewery-style pub with more than 50 beers on tap or in bottles and cans. The draught list likely will include hard-to-find beers such as The Bruery Humulus Lager from Placentia, California, and the rich Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout from Longmont, Colorado. Bar food at Beerhaus will include savory roasted sausages and rotisserie sandwiches with premium meats such as porchetta, beef brisket, and free-range chicken. Guests will be invited to eat and drink at picnic tables in front of the restaurant and play games such as Connect Four while they eat. Sounds like my kind of watering hole.
When you travel, what do you look for in a bar?