From the whimsy of the Strip to the booming nightlife of the revived downtown scene, best-in-class examples of bartender staples as well as original creations dot plenty of menus. The outstanding drink lists and engaging atmospheres of these seven options leave particularly strong first impressions in a crowded scene, making them a must-visit for anyone interested in raising a glass to good times.
The Laundry Room
We’re not huge fans of gimmicks when it comes to finding a great drink, but the cocktails at the Laundry Room are well worth jumping through a few hoops for. The small hidden room located inside the Commonwealth bar (look for a candle with a magnifying glass on the wall) requires a reservation to get in, which patrons can get by texting a “secret” number. Finding the number is part of the fun, so we won’t spoil it here — just look for clothes pins. Make sure you show up on time and text again to let the staff know you’ve arrived. They’ll show you where you need to go and even let you skip the lines outside. Inside you’ll find a quiet 1920s-themed space manned by some of the most competent bartenders in town. Pad your stomach with free flavored gourmet popcorn while enjoying potent drinks from the bar’s robust cocktail menu or ask the bartender to invent something special based on your tastes. Just make sure you obey the house rules, which includes no photos.
Herbs & Rye
The only thing you need to really know about Herbs & Rye is that it’s where some of Las Vegas’s best mixologists like to to grab a cocktail when they’re off the clock. What the old Las Vegas style restaurant and bar lacks in ritz it makes up for in its exceptional execution of classic drinks spanning a range of eras from the mid to late 1800s to the mid 1900s, with a few modern options tossed in for good measure. Did we mention steaks are half off during happy hour?
Don’t judge one of the city’s trendiest bars located in the center of the trendiest hotel (The Cosmopolitan) by its excessive amount of bling — the Chandelier expertly balances just the right amount of Vegas fantasy with some of the tastiest cocktail innovations in the US. The triple-level bar wrapped in crystals is a prime location for people-watching and packs plenty of comfortable lounge seating from which to enjoy more drinks than you probably intended to have when you first arrived.
The South Beach born Delano replaced Mandalay Bay’s THEhotel in September of last year. Its lobby bar, named after a former president you might have heard of, is one of the first new elements to make a splash in the city, serving premium spirits in a stylish mid-century setting. Cocktail options are interesting but admittedly limited compared to other highlights on this list. A curated global survey of whiskies including options from India and Australia, plus plenty of wine and craft beer choices luckily fill in the gaps.
No drinking institution has a history that can match Atomic Liquors. It’s the oldest freestanding bar in the city and the former watering hole of choice for greats like The Rat Pack and Babs. It is also the setting for the infamous “pen” scene in Scorsese’s Casino. Early patrons used to watch nuke testing from the bar’s open roof deck — hence the name. Outdoor patio space is still a draw for the place today, though a nice place to sit wouldn’t mean anything without a knowledgeable bartending crew crafting innovative cocktails at reasonable prices.
The Bourbon Room
Even if you’re not a fan of Rock of Ages or the ’80s in general, The Venetian’s waterhole inspired by the Broadway hit is sure to please bourbon lovers. Its 11+ whiskey-inspired cocktails add more than a few interesting twists to the Kentucky export while the bar’s Angle Share reserve menu offers plenty of desirable pours for those who prefer savoring whiskey on its own.
The Mandarin Bar
One of the most sophisticated lounges in the city is perched on the 21st floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Its floor-to-ceiling windows are a highlight for those looking to marvel at the lights of Las Vegas from above. Combined with exotic concoctions like the Lychee Smash, composed of Hendrick’s, Aperol, muddled mandarin, pineapple, fresh lime juice and simple syrup — there’s no shortage of reasons to linger.