Looking for a drink? You won’t have to go far—no matter where you are, there’s a Las Vegas bar close at hand. From high-end joints like twin taverns Parasol Up and Parasol Down at Wynn Las Vegas to loud and rowdy watering holes like the Double Down Saloon, you’re bound to find a liquor-swilling establishment where you’ll feel right at home. With such variety, singling out the best bars in Las Vegas isn't the easiest of tasks. That's where our guide to boozing in Sin City comes in. Whether you're after a cool beer or a bacon martini, we have the place for you…
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The best bars and lounges in Las Vegas
Gold-framed prints and paintings cover the walls and ceiling here, almost to the point of absurdity; there are even empty frames suspended in the air, and statues interspersed with shelves full of books. Somehow, it all works. A unique amalgam of lodge, bar and gallery, the Artisan is arty Vegas’s living room away from home. Thanks to the lack of gambling, it’s also one of the quietest lounges in town.
The oldest surviving freestanding bar according to local lore, Atomic Liquors reopened under new ownership after a two-year hiatus. Once a restaurant and later, in the 1950s, a viewing point for the bomb tests conducted in the desert, Atomic toughed it out for many years while Downtown faded away. This stretch of Fremont has greatly improved, so here’s to drinking at the Atomic again!
The ‘martinis and manicures’ concept featured on Sex and the City was made famous by the New York version of this chain; a shame, then, that cosmetology laws forbid full manicures here. The 1950s decor was salvaged from the Capri Salon of Beauty in Trenton, NJ, with lighting from the old Algiers hotel in Vegas; it’s matched by themed cocktails, such as the Platinum Blonde, the Prell and the Red Head. Bands and DJs entertain more or less nightly.
Having dramatically remade its restaurants, the MGM then turned its attention to its bars. Along with Rouge, the Centrifuge is the most eye-catching, a circular bar near the front of the casino with TV screens, dancing girls and excellent cocktails. It’s more expensive than it should be, but still worth a look nonetheless.
With velvety flock wallpaper, Frank and Dino on the jukebox, and a shrine (a martini, a coffee cup and a cigarette) dedicated to former manager Marty, this vintage bar is a Dom Pérignon ’53 among Vegas saloons. Hipsters, barflies and discerning locals head here at all hours for cheap drinks; many find it hard to leave.
The Chandelier is at the centre of the new Vegas bar scene – and a three-storey chandelier is at the centre of this gorgeous, multi-level bar. You’ll be surrounded by sparkle, and dazzled by your fellow cocktailers as you sip a Fire-Breathing Dragon – or ask your bartender to come up with something to commemorate the moment.
Part speakeasy, part garden gathering-spot, part gleaming hipster hangout, Commonwealth is among the latest in new bars to bet on the revitalisation of Downtown’s Fremont Street. With live music on the rooftop and an ‘invite-only’ lounge, Commonwealth may turn out to be the new face of Las Vegas’s long-forgotten neighbourhood.
You can look at the waterwheel, you can listen to the waterwheel, but you certainly can’t touch it. Sort of like the waitresses. The Dispensary is a throwback to old Vegas, complete with shag carpets, fake plants and leotard-clad serving staff who become more boisterous and less balanced as the night wears on (well, you try wearing high heels on a shag carpet). A dark, quiet answer to a bright and frenetic city.
No head for drink? Then hand over $20 for puke insurance: if you barf, staff will clean up. Otherwise, you’re on your own at this darkly chaotic bar. ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, they bill it, and with good reason: the music is loud, whether from the impeccably curated jukebox—filled with ska, surf, psychobilly and punk tunes—or the regular bands, and the vibe is welcoming. Acts that have graced its stage include TSOL, Dickies and the Supersuckers. It’s also known for its tasty alcoholic concoctions such as Ass Juice and bacon martinis (no one’s ever had two). Beers are a better bet.
Despite its name, this chic, upscale bar will make you forget you’re Downtown; or, at least, Downtown Las Vegas. Done out in deep, sexy reds and sheer curtains you can close for added nook privacy, this understated lounge will put you in the mood to leave with a date even if you didn’t come in with one. DJs entertain nightly, though the music is generally pitched at conversation-friendly levels.
This putatively Brit-styled joint is the place to go medieval. Windowless, with an eerie but romantic glow fed by candlelight and fireplaces, the Griffin doubles as an after-work beer pub and a late-night indie-rockin’ haunt. Tattooed hotties pull Stellas while a dollar stirs T-Rex and the Smiths from the juke.
Mixologists reign at the bar of this Italian/tapas restaurant, which aspires to a 1920s speakeasy feel. The bartenders focus on quality, tradition and innovation – the cocktail menu is arranged according to the history of spirits. Ask for a Bee’s Knees – a ’20s-era nectar of gin, honey and lemon.
While you’re sitting and sipping your Shark Attack and gazing into the 117,000-gallon aquarium, it might occur to you to wonder: where are the mermaids? Don’t fret: they, and their companion mermen, will be along in a while, diving in on the hour in the evenings (except Tue) and performing underwater versions of Swan Lake. Cheap drinks and jellyfish tanks add to the eccentric appeal.
Not particularly fancy, not particularly sophisticated, Money Plays isn’t the type of bar that’s trying to muscle in on the casino-hotel business. Instead, it’s just a good ole locals’ hangout, just down the street from Palms. Plenty of great beers on tap, darts, shuffleboard, and occasionally live music. Curious as to the type of bars Vegas residents frequent? Try this one.
Whether you’re Up or Down, there’s a Parasol cocktail for you. These two pricey, Euro-chichi hangouts overlooking the waterfall – which is lit up by projected images and colours – have more charm than standard casino bars, and are full of the sort of beautiful, wealthy people who like to hang out at this most chichi of resorts.
Scantily clad, buxom cowgirls – check. Mechanical bull – check. Pabst Blue Ribbon – check. Therein lies pretty much everything you need to know about PBR Rock Bar, located in PH’s Miracle Mile Shops right on the Strip. If beer’s not your thing, try one of the cocktails like the Hoedown Throwdown (Southern Comfort, vodka, and so on) served in a handled Mason jar. Toss back a couple and get ready for the bull.