More is always more in Las Vegas, where bigger isn’t just better, it’s the city’s modus operandi. That being said, there’s a vibrant bar scene outside of all the mega-clubs that dominate Vegas nightlife. Whether pre-gaming for the high-end club experience or looking for something a bit more intimate and idiosyncratic, there’s plenty of only-in-Vegas options here.
1. The Chandelier
As extravagant as you would expect
Get shrouded in light at this three-story nightspot in the center of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on The Strip, which is indeed fashioned to look like a giant chandelier, complete with over two million crystals sparkling in unison with the bubbles in your champagne. Each level is tailored to engender a different atmosphere, with the bottom floor offering a more lively casino bar experience with a DJ, the second floor a craft-cocktail destination and the top floor a cozy lounge with views as indulgent as the sips.
Insider Tips: This bar gets busiest around the 9pm time so you should go for it in…
Once synonymous with low-brow thrills — we’re talking deep-fried Twinkies and biker bars — Downtown Las Vegas has gotten a face lift in recent years, with the Fremont East Arts District in particular becoming much hipper and less-touristy. And one of the anchors of it all is Commonwealth, a chic, wood-grained bar with a pre-Prohibition design, an exquisite craft cocktail menu, one of the more extensive beer selections in the area and a roof-top patio for getting some air and taking in the surroundings. And for those in the know, there’s the private Laundry Room, a hidden backroom that can only be accessed by texting the club and making reservations well in advance (702-701-1466).
3. Double Down Saloon
Adding some grit to all that Vegas glam is the city’s best, most iconic dive bar, the Double Down Saloon, located but a few minutes east of The Strip. With a graffiti’d decor, a killer jukebox, bizzarro B-movies playing on the TVs behind the bar and free punk shows most every night at 10 p.m., this is the place to get weird and adhere to the Double Down’s motto: “Shut up and drink.” Try a shot of the club’s infamous Ass Juice or trademark Bacon Martini and then be sure to invest in the $20 puke insurance just in case.
4. The Golden Tiki
The shrunken voodoo doll heads of various Las Vegas notables — from Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil to mixed martial arts superstar Randy Couture — that adorn this wild-eyed tiki bar set a suitably freaky, free-wheeling tone for this popular hang nestled in China Town west of the Strip. A killer cocktail menu of rum-based drinks — which can all be ordered for two and served inside a pineapple — and a nautical decor consisting of skeleton-festooned pirate ships and treasure chests make this one of the most fun spots in town to knock back a flaming drink or two (a 151 shot of fire can be added to any cocktail for $1). And don’t even think of leaving without posing for a couple of pictures inside the giant oyster shell here.
5. On the Record
This newer nightspot at Park MGM on The Strip, which opened in late 2018, lives up to its name with a vinyl record store doubling as its entrance on the casino’s second floor. The rock ‘n’ roll vibe continues inside with Rolling Stones, The Who and Guns N’ Roses-themed pinball machines and a red double-decker bus evocative of British Invasion-era London serving as the DJ booth on the patio out back. There’s a trio of private karaoke rooms here for rent, a hidden speakeasy behind a wall of cassettes and if all that wasn’t enough, the bartenders will craft you a cocktail based exclusively upon your musical tastes, meaning you can finally indulge in some Megadeth-inspired libations.