Beverage Director

The Best Bars in Las Vegas Right Now

Get vaccinated and get to drinkin'.

The Laundry Room/Commonwealth
Photo courtesy of The Laundry Room/Commonwealth

It's getting a lot easier to have a drink in Las Vegas. Nevada just opened up vaccines to anyone 16 and over (so sign up today if you haven't already), while capacity at bars, restaurants, and casinos is now bumped up to 50%. Reservations were required in the not-so-distant past—and may still be encouraged—but most bars are now just happy to see you wander through the door. And yes, you can play video poker. Long story short: things are a lot less confusing these days. So let's toast to the progress made in getting past this pandemic. Whether at a cocktail lounge, dive bar, or brewpub, there's a drink out there with your name on it. But if you really want to celebrate, bookmark this rundown of the best bars in Las Vegas, including some intriguing newcomers you need to know about.

The Front Yard
Photo courtesy of The Front Yard at Ellis Island

The Front Yard

Off the Strip

The Front Yard at Ellis Island is a two-level beer garden that sits inside a glass-window atrium. That means plenty of natural light during the day and the glow of the Strip at night. Even better—Ellis Island has an on-site brewery that's only gotten better in recent years. Some of the beer is even used in the food (like the beer-brined wings or shrimp cocktail with Michelada sauce). You've got six core brews plus six additional rotating taps for experimental recipes and seasonal specials. Can't decide? Just order a custom flight and try 'em all. The weekend brunch has plenty of fun dishes (like the brisket benedict and french toast waffle) that pair perfectly with whatever beer you happen to be drinking. And we all know: brunch season is in full swing here in Las Vegas. 
How to book: Walk-ins accepted, or RSVP via OpenTable.

Garagiste Wine Room | Merchant
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Garagiste Wine Room | Merchant

Downtown Arts District

Great wine shouldn't have to be expensive. That's the idea behind Garagiste, a neighborhood wine bar in the Arts District by a pair of sommeliers with a long history on the Strip. The already extensive list is growing by the day, featuring a variety of styles, countries, regions, and prices. Garagiste makes a point to champion the natural or "low intervention" wine movement and small producers that aren't easy to track down. It's an industrial, modern space of brick and glass without a single television in sight—although the record player near the bar is a nice touch. (Ask to pick out an album.) There isn't a kitchen, but charcuterie plates are available, and you can always bring in outside food, especially from Esther's Kitchen across the street. Bottles are available to go (with a 50% off retail discount) but if you plan to hang out for a while, there are more than 20 wines by the glass to keep things interesting. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

The Garden Las Vegas

Downtown Arts District

Inspired by the bar scene in West Hollywood and Chicago's Boystown, The Garden is a comfortable, inclusive bar for the LGBTQ community where everyone feels welcome. Hang out in a circular booth or grab a seat on the patio where pink bistro lights match the Nevada sky at sunset. The cocktails themselves are just as colorful and lean toward fresh and light flavor profiles. The fresh flowers in small vases show it's the little things that count. The Garden had the bad luck of opening during a pandemic, but is quickly finding an audience—especially during the weekend drag brunch or the two-for-one cocktail deals on Sunday nights. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome or RSVP via OpenTable.

The Laundry Room
Photo courtesy of The Laundry Room

The Laundry Room

Fremont East

The Laundry Room used to be a hidden speakeasy inside Commonwealth. It’s now expanded beyond its secret walls, completely taking over its sister venue through at least the end of 2020. Let’s hope the move is permanent, since the current version is one of the most rewarding bar experiences in Las Vegas. The drink list is an impressive mix of sophisticated classics and inventive creations, but things work out even better when you let the bartender come up with a custom cocktail based on moods and words — like smoky, aggressive, or Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Keep the ground rules in mind — no PDA and no cellphones (although texting is okay). The decor is all vintage and tables have been added to the rooftop patio, and drinks are accompanied with gourmet popcorn and vegan ice cream by Paradise City. Guests show their text reservation confirmation to enter through a secret side door.  

Lucky Day
Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Lucky Day

Lucky Day

Fremont East

Lucky Day is all about tequila and mezcal with a rotating collection of agave spirits that can total more than a hundred at any given time. Enjoy them as flights or in one of ten house cocktails. However, the bar itself is almost like something you'd see in New York or Boston—a long hallway with a small patio spilling out into the lights and energy of the Fremont East district. The ceiling is covered with an elaborate light installation. You can sit there for days and not see the same sequence twice. Munch on chips, guac, and house-made salsa in between sips. Or just come by Saturday or Sunday for the all-you-can-eat taco brunch. 
How to book: via their website.

Màs Por Favor Taqueria y Tequila
Photo courtesy of Mas Por Favor

At first glance, Más Por Favor looks like a bright, open taqueria in a Chinatown strip mall—which is pretty great all by itself. But off to the side is a secret hallway, modeled after a drug tunnel (with bags of "cocaine" as decoration), leading to a dark but wonderfully vibrant speakeasy parlor. The cocktails skew towards tequila and mezcal with a dynamic variety of flavors. Some go down a little too easy and if that's the case, switch to either red or white sangria (both exceptional and not overly sweet), which carry more volume and last a bit longer. Casamigos Margaritas are on tap with house-infused jalapeno bitters and other modifications encouraged. And yes, you can order the same delicious tacos sold out front. Request a dusting of Hot Cheetos for added spice. 
How to book: via their website.

AREA15
Oddwood Bar | Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of AREA15

AREA15

Off the Strip

Oddwood is the centerpiece of AREA15, a mixed-use art and entertainment space that's one of the coolest things to check out in Vegas right now. The bar is easy to spot. It surrounds the trunk of a colorful 24-foot tall LED tree, inspired by an art installation at Burning Man. The cocktail menu was created by Laundry Room mixologist Anthony Partridge, although the recipes are designed to be a little more simple and quicker to prepare. Still—there's a compelling mix of flavors, like the blend of whiskey, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla in the Chocolate Blink. Oddwood has the feel of a lounge with ambient music in the background, but the pace picks up after 10 pm when AREA15 is 21-and-over.      
How to book: via their website

Atomic Liquors
Photo courtesy of Atomic Liquors

The oldest free-standing bar in Las Vegas used to be a place where people would grab drinks, sit on the roof, and watch nuclear test explosions go off in the desert (since Nevada was into that kind of stuff in the '50s). Atomic Liquors eventually closed down but returned as a craft cocktail destination in 2012. It's been a huge hit ever since, and much of Nevada's radioactive history is documented with artifacts on the walls. In the wake of at-home bartending during the pandemic, Atomic Liquors noticed a renewed interest in well-crafted libations and responded with limited-edition specials that rotate throughout the season. Signature cocktails are updated twice a year, but don't worry—the bourbon-fueled Hunter S. Mash isn't going anywhere. A sister restaurant—The Kitchen at Atomic—operates next door with a shared patio between the two. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse celebrated its 20th anniversary (a lifetime for a Vegas Strip restaurant) with a full renovation last year that added renewed sparkle and energy to the dining room. The Creole-seasoned steaks are as good as ever. But what about the drinks? The restaurant has one of the best whiskey and spirits lists in not only Las Vegas, but the entire country—with more than 700 options from nine countries and an impressive focus on verticals. This is the stuff that's hard to find anywhere else. If dinner's not required, grab a seat in the lounge and pick the brain of your bartender. Not into brown spirits? Delmonico has 2,400 choices of wine as well.   
How to book: via Opentable.

Downtown Cocktail Room
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Back when Las Vegas was all about sugary libations and bottle service, the Downtown Cocktail Room came along with something different—inventive, complicated cocktails inspired by other cities ahead of the curve. The team works in a mixology "lab" to create clever drinks that rotate on and off the menu four or five times a year. Nothing is off limits, from absinthe and mezcals to anything and everything as garnish (including on at least one occasion, house-made chips and salsa). Drinks are half-off Tuesday-Saturday from 5 to 7 pm. Mike Morey's Sip'n'Tip is a hidden bar-within-a-bar with a looser vibe, its own menu, and a side alley entrance. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome or RSVP online.

Golden Tiki
Photo courtesy of Golden Tiki

Golden Tiki

Chinatown

The music heard at the front door suggests you're either about to take a ride on the Pirates of the Caribbean or enter the most indulgent tiki bar in Las Vegas. Golden Tiki counts a dancing skeleton, conch shell chair, and overstuffed treasure chest among its kitschy decorations. It's also hard to overlook the shrunken head collection and a pair of animatronic birds who exchange dirty jokes. The cocktails go well beyond the expected rum-and-fruit-juice staples with complex, well-balanced creations heavy on carefully chosen spirits. Some come topped with Dole Whip—a frozen pineapple treat dispensed from a machine that first became popular at Disneyland. Like all good tiki bars, the drinks are rated on the menu by strength-level. 
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be booked via Resy.

Herbs & Rye
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Herbs & Rye

Off-Strip

Thrillist once asked top bartenders in Vegas where they got drinks on their downtime. All of them said Herbs & Rye. The cocktail bar by which all others are judged is frequently singled out as not only one of the best bars in Vegas, but the entire country. That's because every bartender here appreciates and understands both the art and history of classic cocktails. The menu itself is divided into different American eras, from 1776 through today (touching on prohibition, tiki, and Rat Pack periods for example). The back bar alone is worth your attention—with liqueurs, spirits, and mixers you won't easily find elsewhere. Feel free to challenge the staff, who are always eager to make something new and different with the resources at their disposal. The food includes pasta and steaks (with the latter half-off during both the regular and reverse happy hour). Sister steakhouse Cleaver has a similar but smaller cocktail menu (and is easier for scoring a last-minute reservation).  
How to book: via their website.

Oak & Ivy: An American Whiskey Den
Photo courtesy of Oak & Ivy

Located inside the Downtown Container Park, Oak & Ivy makes the most of a small bar with just a handful of seats, although hanging out on the rooftop at sunset isn't bad either. The whiskey selection is strong and put to good use in plenty of great cocktails, including a Whiskey Smash made with fruit-infused water that changes with the season. The Moscow Mule is available in nine variations and made with house-brewed ginger beer. New recipes come and go with the season, but the Apple Harvest is here to stay—an apple whiskey sour with a torched apple pie garnish that tastes better than dessert.
How to book: via Opentable.

 

The Sand Dollar Lounge
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

You know things are returning to normal in Vegas when the pool tables are back at the Sand Dollar Lounge. A legit piece of Vegas history, the bar has a legacy of live music that dates back to 1976, but the drink menu is the best reason to visit. The best-seller right now is the Lupita, featuring flash-infused basil tequila and house-made orgeat, but the coolest one is the Thai Tea Trippin'—a combination of rum, spiced tea, milk, and sugar with the dairy component filtered out, leaving behind a creamy taste, but no cloudiness. The beer list is strong too. Not picky? Try your luck with the "Beer Roulette" machine, which dispenses random cans for $5. The pizzas (with a custom dough by Chris Decker of Metro Pizza) compete with the best in town with creative recipes and crisp, fresh ingredients on top.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

Velveteen Rabbit
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Velveteen Rabbit

Downtown Arts District

Opened by two sisters who just wanted a good place to hang out, Velveteen Rabbit is a social drinking spot that understands the art of the craft cocktail and the value of an expansive beer list. The collection of antique furniture doesn't quite match, but seems to fit the quirky spirit of the place just fine. With local artwork hanging on the walls and a history of hosting up-and-coming musicians, it's hard to find a bar that is so supportive of the Arts District community while making some of the most unique and creative drinks anywhere in Las Vegas. The daily 5–7 pm happy hour has discounted house cocktails for $12 and Montucky lager with a shot of rye for $8. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

Rosina
Photo courtesy of Rosina

Rosina

Venetian

Rosina is one of three sister bars in the Venetian Cocktail Collective. Each is great, but while The Dorsey and Electra have a high-energy atmosphere to match the inventive nature of their cocktails. Rosina is an intimate, stylish art-deco spot that focuses on classics—with ice and glassware to match. If you want a Dark 'n Stormy or an Airmail done right, this is where you want to be. A traditional Mai Tai served in a skull is especially fun. Ask about the latest secret menu, serving modified takes on old favorites like a Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Champagne cocktails. Rosina shifted to limited hours during the pandemic (Friday-Sunday), but will hopefully return to full operation soon. 
How to book: via Opentable.

Legacy Club
Photo courtesy of Legacy Club

A great drink is even better with a great view. And that's especially true at the Legacy Club on the 60th floor of the new Circa resort on Fremont Street. With a strong whiskey selection, artwork honoring Vegas casino magnates, and an exhibit of gold bars, this penthouse venue goes heavy on macho swagger. Yet in reality, the Legacy Club is one of the best places to bring a date in Vegas. The servers are knowledgeable about the menu (a nice change of pace from other cocktail bars on the Strip), so don't take suggestions lightly. The Nevadan lives up its name, using Frey Ranch rye distilled on an upstate farm. Drink prices are on the high side, but those sweeping Vegas views are included. Enjoy 'em from the indoor lounge or the outdoor patio. 
How to book: via their website.

Berlin Bar
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Berlin Bar

Downtown Arts District

Berlin Bar has style, but isn't too fancy. A beer-and-a-shot is the drink of choice here—a dive bar with a loose German theme. Lots of kitschy mismatched decor, chalkboard art, stickers, and artwork from local artists (that's also for sale). So where does the name come from? The owners actually planned to open the bar in Berlin, but COVID hit and they stayed put in Vegas instead. If beer's not your thing, try the Sandia (a Casamigos margarita with fresh watermelon juice). Food includes a soft pretzel charcuterie board and the same gourmet franks served by the Dude, Where's My Hotdog food truck. The infamous Ass Cobra is topped with ramen and asparagus. The patio gets busy on weekends with a long fire pit and a great view of the Stratosphere tower. The soundtrack of dirty, fuzzy rock fits the vibe just fine. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

Ada’s
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Ada’s

Tivoli Village

James Trees' pizzeria (which closed during the pandemic) is now back open as a wine bar with an all-new look. The wines are fantastic, affordable, and chosen with the input of the entire service team, who are all trained sommeliers. There's a heavy emphasis on natural wines and with nearly 100 bottles and more than 20 options by the glass, there's something for everyone. Even beer, if that's your preference. Best of all—Ada's is free from pretentiousness. It's just a fun, loose place to hang out. The tapas menu by Chef de Cuisine Jackson Stamper includes imported cheese and charcuterie, a variety of Spanish-inspired bites, and an Argentinian-inspired skirt steak (which is the most expensive item on the menu at $22). If you still want that pizza, Trees recently opened Al Solito Posto, a more formal restaurant in the same shopping plaza. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

The Shag Room
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

The Shag Room

Virgin Hotels

The Bar at Commons Club and The Shag Room are right next to each other, almost feeling like one big lounge at the brand-new Virgin Hotels. The Bar at Commons Club (ironically, nowhere close to The Kitchen at Commons Club on the other side of the casino) is more open and designed to attract walk-ins near the main entrance. It's got a moody, retro vibe and operates around the clock. Try the Bloody Brilliant, a strong mix of cognac and bourbon with star anise syrup (and if you need extra sweetness, blood orange gumdrops on the side). The Shag Room is more intimate, secluded, and geared toward reservations, although it's relatively easy to grab a seat early in the evening. The lounge feels like an old-school private club with thick carpeting and VIP tables inside Moroccan-style tents. Large parties may prefer bottle service, but The Chai is a nice smooth cocktail, mixing tequila with cardamom and masala tea. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome or call 800-693-7625 to make reservations.

Rockstar Bar
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Rockstar Bar

South Strip

Now that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is gone, maybe this will help fill the void? Well, maybe a little bit. Rockstar Bar lives up to its theme with guitars and artwork dedicated to rock legends. It also has a full stage and is one of the few places advertising live music right now with party bands and tribute acts playing every Friday and Saturday. Sound and lights were installed by a former tech for Aerosmith. How's that for cred? The venue just opened in March, founded by a team with a long history in Vegas nightlife. So yeah, they know how to have a good time. You'll find Rockstar Bar inside the Las Vegas Golf Center (across from Town Square), serving drinks and grab-and-go snacks for anyone at the driving bays or just hanging out on the patio. The Strip views are a nice bonus. The kitchen serves food, including burgers and pasta on weekends. 
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He's a shot of sweet vermouth balanced by a few dashes of bitters. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.
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