Vodka Drinkers: You Need This Concord Grape-Rosemary Shrub Cocktail
Opened by a pair of sisters who were inspired by the arts scene in places like Portland, San Diego, and Tokyo, Velveteen Rabbit offers a constantly rotating menu of cocktails based on seasonal ingredients. The bar takes its spot in the arts district seriously: it's decorated with stylish, Victorian-inspired furniture, guest musicians play frequently on the back patio, and local artists are featured on the small booklets that replaced the old wood board menus. Cordials, liqueurs, and bitters are made in-house.
This bar and lounge is known for its spectacular view of Las Vegas from the 64th floor of the Delano resort, but the bartenders here are also recognized for their rare attention to detail and craft cocktail program. The menu is divided into sections that match moods, the mixers are house-made, and there's a classic Old Fashioned setup for any bottle of aged liquor. If you want to share the love, Skyfall recently added drinks that are designed to be shared by up to eight people. Grab your friends and try the Pink Flamingo Punch, a combo of Absolut Elyx, Champagne, dry vermouth, Aperol, strawberry syrup, and lemon juice in a flamingo-shaped decanter. It's the perfect way to enjoy a post-dinner drink, especially after a meal next door at Rivea.
Located inside a renovated shipping container, Oak & Ivy is just large enough for the bar itself and a few stools, but there are plenty of seats out on the patio. This place also has a boss whiskey selection that's perfect for drinks like the Apple Harvest (which tastes like dessert) or the Whiskey Smash, made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and fruit-infused water that changes with the season. Oak & Ivy also offers a choice of nine different mules on the menu, all made with house-made ginger beer.
The big draw at VISTA is the high-tech atmosphere: the bar is surrounded by LED screens that show panoramic cityscapes of global destinations like New York, Dubai, and Shanghai, along with animated effects like fireworks and rain storms. The drinks are pretty great, too: favorites include an infused pineapple mule, shareable punch bowls, and five martinis named after each of the five boroughs of New York. (Check 'em out on Martini Mondays.) If you need a jolt back to the reality of Las Vegas, the Caesars Palace sports book is only a few steps away.
Off the Strip
Extremely popular with the service industry crowd, Herbs & Rye truly stands out from the pack with a team that's mastered the art of handcrafting a drink. There are 45 cocktails on the menu, representing different eras through history, but the bartenders welcome challenging requests and have 500 spirits on hand to play with -- including some that are extremely hard to find. There's a personal touch here, too: the bartenders here believe that mixology isn't only about the drink, but also how a bartender mixes with his customer. Two more things: the happy hour is the best in Vegas (with half-off steaks to go with deals on drinks), and it's closed Sundays... so plan accordingly.
Named after a drink ordered by James Bond in the Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale, Vesper is a lounge that's elegant and stylish in a way that would make 007 proud. The menu is divided into cocktails developed from original recipes, and traditional drinks made with a contemporary twist. If you're seeking a mystery suitable for any spy, order the $16 Dealer's Choice, in which the bartender creates a custom cocktail based on your choice of three descriptors.
Surrounded by wood carvings, video poker, and endless kitsch, this classic old-school Tiki bar is a big locals' favorite and one of those dive bars in Vegas you have to try at least once. The lighting is turned down extra-low, so squint your eyes carefully and look closely at the tropical drinks on the menu: the number of skulls next to each one corresponds to their level of alcohol. The Fink Bomb is a popular choice among the regulars; it's made with 160 proof rum, coconut rum, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice. Oh.... and it has five skulls.
Red Rock Resort
One of the best places to grab a drink west of the Strip, Onyx Bar recently revamped its look and menu, with an emphasis on whiskey, bourbon, and Scotch. That includes a special barrel-aged Tennessee whiskey blend only available at Red Rock. The Blood & Sand cocktail mixes Johnnie Walker Black with fresh orange juice, Cinzano sweet vermouth, Luxardo "Sangue Morlacco" cherry liqueur, and an optional float of mezcal. If cocktails aren't your thing, order an experimental whiskey flight and puff away on a high-quality cigar.
If you're looking for a fun drink, go for the Don Sandia, a tequila, watermelon, and lime creation served inside a hollowed-out cucumber. It's typical of the ambitious cocktails served at Clique, a stylish, modern bar that recently opened at The Cosmo. Some drinks feature fresh-pressed juice, while others are prepared tableside for large groups. The food is nearly as fun, with snacks like mini lobster tacos, honey Sriracha popcorn, and deep-fried Oreos.
The Mandarin Bar could easily get by on atmosphere alone. Located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, this spot features a spectacular view of the Strip, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the side of the building. However, the team here has given careful attention to the mixology program, offering up classic cocktails often served with a modern Asian twist. Among them, you'll find the signature Golden Leaf martini, made with Hendrick's gin, muddled mandarin oranges, Aperol, lime, pineapple juice, and edible gold garnish. Don't forget to ask about the Zodiac Cocktails, designed to match each astrological sign. You get one free on your birthday.
Part of the Fremont Street bar scene long before the area's recent resurgence, the Downtown Cocktail Room often enjoys "best-kept secret" status, thanks in part to a trick door that's hard to open on the first try. The team of mixologists here are more like mad scientists, coming up with a rotating list of 10 drinks that change with each season. The latest clever cocktails include the Sweet Georgia Brown, a bourbon drink made with barbecue sauce (trust us), and the rum-drenched Mango No. 5, with a small dish of chips and mango salsa served as the official garnish. A few classic drinks stay on the menu year-round, and the deep selection of absinthe is served in 2oz pours.
This lobby bar fits in perfectly with the modern elegance of the Bellagio, with long Spanish stone tabletops and comfortable couches that are well-suited for large parties. The signature drink, called The Lily (of course), is a purple, prickly pear-flavored concoction with Stoli Vanil, blood orange, and fresh lime juice, topped with a flower. There is also a spin on a Manhattan, with chocolate bitters and brandy-infused cherry juice added to the Jack Daniels and sweet vermouth. If you get hungry, your bartender can order snacks like yellowtail sashimi and kale Caesar salads from the nearby FIX restaurant.
Located near the front door of The Cromwell boutique hotel, Bound features a cocktail menu crafted by famed European mixologist and martini master Salvatore Calabrese. Choose your drink from a hefty book that serves as the menu. If you can't decide, consider the Breakfast Martini, which uses the same kind of orange marmalade that you might find on your morning toast, or a choice of espresso-infused cocktails, served in traditional Italian moka pots.
A recent addition to the casino floor of the Mirage, this comfortable, elegant lounge often features live piano music, which is a nice change of pace from all the EDM at other bars on the Strip. The cocktails are creative and colorful, like The Green Muse, where Rutte gin is offset by matcha tea and seasonal herbs. There's also a nice selection of flights for fans of bourbon, whiskey, and Scotch. If you have an extra $175 to spend, you may want to sip on six servings from the esteemed Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
It's hard to miss this bar: it passes through three floors of The Cosmopolitan, surrounded by lights and decorations to make you feel, yes, like you're inside an actual chandelier. The bottom floor is a busy social spot, while the third floor feels like a slightly more secluded lounge. The middle floor is geared towards those who prefer a stylish, handcrafted cocktail, and it's where you'll find The Verbena, an off-menu creation of ginger, lemon, and tequila. It's recommended you take a bite of the edible flower used as garnish before you sip the drink.
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