The opulent new Mayfair Supper Club inside the Bellagio -- occupying the space once inhabited by Hyde -- rang in the New Year and the new roaring '20s when it officially opened to the public on December 31, 2019. This modern supper club concept is an over-the-top spectacle paying homage to the Jazz Age, and it is one of the most exciting spots on the Strip right now. It's part luxurious restaurant and part non-stop entertainment venue. There are singers, dancers, musicians, and performers in the dining room surrounding you at nearly all times during your meal, and the talent is top-notch. Yes, it's pricey, but the value is in the complete dinner-and-a-show package, including attention-grabbing cocktails that befit the theatricality of everything else in this place. Old Fashioneds are served in smoking boxes, champagne cocktails are topped with cotton candy, and a lemon drop martini is served in a "citrus bubble."
This mezcal and tequila bar located inside the Park MGM comes from renowned mezcalera Bricia Lopez, who is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico and whose family has been in the spirits business for generations. Mama Rabbit is her first concept outside of Los Angeles and boasts the largest selection of agave-based spirits in the United States, with over 500 labels total. In addition to their expansive selection of mezcal (and non-agave!) cocktails, the bar also has roving margarita carts and bottle service. Sit on the front side of the bar (facing the casino floor) to enjoy the art installations by world-famous street artist Okuda that are laden with slot machines because #Vegas.
Rarely does the experience of a pricey cocktail in Las Vegas justify its expense. Such is not the case at Mr. Coco-- located inside the radically overhauled Palms on the third floor of the Fantasy Tower -- where the exquisite presentation is one half of the cocktail experience. (The other half being, of course, drinking it.) Mr. Coco has a relatively modest list of specialty and classic cocktails that are beautifully presented inside this luxurious space. The experience starts with a "cocktail amuse bouche" before guests even enter the elevator, and if you think drinks like the espresso martini seem a bit too basic for a cocktail bar of this caliber, go ahead and order it -- there's nothing "basic" about it.
It took a really, really long time for the standard Las Vegas Strip bar to latch onto the craft cocktail trend in a meaningful way (and I would argue that, with the exception of a few select properties on the Strip, there is still a way to go). Though the Dorsey inside the Venetian is only four years old, its opening was the exact moment in time when the Strip got serious about cocktails. The first venue of the Cocktail Collective, (which also operates two other excellent bars inside the Venetian and Palazzo), this is a gorgeous, gilded bar with a drink program that is approachable enough for the Vegas masses but sophisticated enough to satisfy the biggest aficionados. For funsies, get a group together and try one of its spectacular "disco punch bowls." Be sure to check out a guest bartender pop-up or one of its other special events.
Juniper inside the Park MGM is a posh little cocktail lounge tucked off to the side of the casino floor. This place makes good on its name with the largest gin selection in Las Vegas, an extensive collection of both American-made gins as well as interesting gins from around the world, with each one's unique flavor profile described on the menu. If you've got juniper fever, this is the place to go. Order "A Little Birdie," "Carnival," "No Judging," or "Cucumber Cooler" for something extra-Instagrammable.
The Golden Tiki, located in Las Vegas' underrated Chinatown, is part of the new wave of tiki bars that have risen to popularity in tandem with the craft cocktail renaissance. Equal parts badass craft cocktail bar and kitschy tropical joint, the Golden Tiki is a favorite hangout for locals and tourists in the know. Check out their unique collection of "shrunken heads" (featuring the likenesses of many local celebs) and, ladies, make sure you take a trip to the restroom for some good ol’ phallic fun, as the women’s bathroom is complete with a penis door handle, risqué artifacts, and nudie wallpaper.
The Mob Museum is all about the history and influence of the mob in the United States, with an emphasis on its role in developing Las Vegas. No history of the mob is complete without a reference to Prohibition, when the booze continued to flow on the underground because of the American mafia. The Underground at the Mob Museum is a full-service cocktail bar that also doubles as the museum's speakeasy and bootlegger exhibit, and it even has its own distillery where moonshine is made. Order something from its menu of Prohibition-era craft cocktails, like the "Underground Old Fashioned," served (spoiler alert) in a hollowed-out book.
Yes, this place is essentially an Italian food theme park (though smaller in scale than most of its counterparts). And as part of being about all things Italian, that also means all things Italian booze -- aka lots of amari. If you're not familiar with the term "amari," then just know that it refers to the family of Italian herbal liqueurs to which Aperol belongs, since the Aperol spritz has had a bit of a moment recently. Eataly has one of the best selections of such liqueurs in Las Vegas, so if your palate leans towards the bitter, this is where to go for a full education.
Las Vegas was a little late to the secret speakeasy game, but even so, we have certainly embraced it in our own unique way. Ghost Donkey is a tequila and mezcal bar out of NYC with a "hidden" location inside the Cosmopolitan at the back of the Block 16 Urban Food Hall (look for the "Exit" door with a donkey on it). It's probably a good thing that this place takes a bit of effort to find, because it is tiny, and it is also usually packed. Try a mole-tinged Mezcal Negroni with some chicken nachos to soak it up.
This elegant, Art-Deco cocktail bar is located just off the casino floor, and offers a welcome respite from the chaos in an intimate setting that feels a world away. Another concept from the Cocktail Collective, Rosina features a selection of shaken, stirred, and bubbly classic cocktails. If you want to color outside of the lines, order the "seasonal fix" or just ask the knowledgeable staff to mix you up something fun. Some of the tables are even equipped with a "champagne call button," with which you can alert your server that you're running low on bubbles and order up some speedy refills.
Jammyland in the DTLV Arts District serves nontraditional Caribbean cuisine along with a rotating lineup of inventive seasonal cocktails. Taking some inspiration from the modern tiki movement, the cocktails mostly just exist as Jammyland's own unique concoctions. The patio is an excellent spot to relax and enjoy a cocktail when it's nice out. (So, unlike in most other cities, not summertime.)
The third and final entrant from the Cocktail Collective is Electra, located inside the Palazzo. This beautiful lounge exists in a space of its own creation, somewhere between nightclub, casino bar, and cocktail lounge. Electra has a massive portfolio of spirits, with a list that goes especially deep on rum and mezcal. The drinks appeal as much to the nightclub party crowd (who, quite frankly, are mostly just looking to get drunk and don't care too much about how they get there) as well as to the cocktail crowd. For a little bit of whimsy, order one of its giant frozen drinks for four, served in brightly colored ceramic puffer fish.
Before there was the Mayfair Supper Club, there was Rose.Rabbit.Lie., a "modern supper club" concept that has evolved a bit since opening in 2014. One thing that thankfully hasn’t changed is its "Craft in a Bottle" cocktail program, offering a selection of cocktails served in large-format flasks. If that's a bit too much for you (c’mon), then order their award-winning "Whistlechops & Applesauce" Old Fashioned made with its private label Whistlepig 10-year rye.
From the same folks behind Herbs & Rye -- long a locals' hotspot famous for its outrageous happy hour -- comes Cleaver, a steakhouse and cocktail bar with similar dels, like half-off select steaks, apps, and well drinks for the majority of the hours that they're open. While the drink offerings aren't quite as robust as those at Herbs & Rye, there are still plenty of cocktails spanning centuries of classics, and this bar also has quite a distinct atmosphere. It's not every day you see a giant oil painting of Chris Farley dressed for the French Revolution.
Located inside the downtown Container Park, a retail and restaurant destination made entirely of shipping containers, Bin 702 does a lot with very little. (In fact, it’s done so much that it’s expanded into a second location in the Arts District, 18bin.) With an excellent selection of fun and inventive cocktails -- most around $10 and under -- as well as an equally fun and inventive selection of grilled cheese sandwich variations, Bin 702 is one of the best places to grab a cocktail and a quick bite while you're scoping out the fast-evolving Fremont East. If you like overloaded Bloody Marys, try the "Bin Mary," which is garnished with mini-sandwiches.
The NoMad Bar is basically the house restaurant for the NoMad Hotel, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. But the "bar" portion of NoMad Bar isn’t treated as an afterthought. The beverage program is created and managed by award-winning bar director Leo Robitschek, whose NYC NoMad Bar has received plenty of national accolades. Order one of its specialty house cocktails, stick with a variation on a classic, split a "cocktail for two," or go for broke with a "Cocktail Explosion," a supersized shareable cocktail -- not punch -- that serves 4-8 people and is served in a nearly two-foot-tall glass vessel.
The largest rum collection in the state of Nevada (according to its website, at least) is housed inside a renovated-but-still-kitschy dive bar with a nautical theme and Polynesian leanings. This dive tiki joint is located on the Eastside in an area that wouldn't be at the top of any tourists' must-see lists. But for those who have an insatiable appetite for dive bar charm and Polynesian kitsch -- and rum! -- this is a worthwhile spot to spend an evening.
New hotel, same SkyBar. Located high above the Las Vegas Strip on the 23rd floor of the Waldorf Astoria, formerly Mandarin Oriental, the SkyBar delivers top-notch cocktails along with a top-notch view. The cocktail menu also pays homage to Las Vegas culture and history, which is a fun approach for both locals and tourists. Try the "Golden Knight," because when in Vegas.
Sage inside Aria is one of the best restaurants on the Strip, but it continuously flies under the radar. Not only does it boast one of the best bourbon collections anywhere in Las Vegas, but it is also, to this drinker's best knowledge, the only place in the city with roving carts touting an extensive selection of absinthes served flaming. Their regular cocktail menu is bomb, too.
The legendary blues bar has gone through a bit of a revamp recently, transitioning from a divey locals joint with live music to a seriously legit cocktail bar. The drinks program is top-notch, and finally got some well-deserved attention during its "Miracle on Spring Mountain" holiday pop-up this past holiday season. Now that this place is having a moment, it's worth noting that, even without all the kitschy holiday décor and cocktails, this is still a serious cocktail bar punching high above its weight class. Also, if you're into clean air, the bar just went totally non smoking as of January 1, which is something we can all breathe easy about.
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 also has 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.
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. A few classic drinks stay on the menu year-round, and the deep selection of absinthe is served in two-ounce pours. Be sure to check them out during "Halfy Hour,” when everything is half-off. For a more intimate experience (read: the bar is very small and the crowd very local), seek out the even-more-secret Mike Morey's Sip 'N Tip, located in the back of the bar.
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.
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.
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. 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.
You can’t 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 a garnish before you sip the drink.