You know how to EAT THIS CITY. But where do you wash it all down? Do you know how to find the best brewpub? Uncover who makes the meanest bloody marys and the most sparkling mimosas?
This week we’re jetting off to America’s Playground, where showmanship and entertainment rule — right down to the craft and presentation of the cocktails. If the only drinks you imbibe when you hit Sin City are the complimentary casino cocktails, you’re definitely missing out. It’s time to expand your horizons and discover the artistry practiced behind Vegas’ best bars.
Our expert guides this week hail from Velveteen Rabbit — the shabby-chic craft cocktail and beer bar appropriately nestled in the heart of the Arts District. Opened in 2013, this whimsical Victorian jewel box is the maiden voyage for co-owners Pamela & Christina Dylag. So far it’s been a smash. The duo’s dedication to quality and authenticity is evident in every last drink. Trust when we say that the two owners, along with bar manager Davey Francis, are artists — using liquors as their palettes and shakers as their brushes. The drinks they serve up are as beautiful as they are delicious.
Menus at Velveteen Rabbit are seasonal and carefully curated to feature fresh and frequently house-made ingredients. They’re also adventurous, playful libations. This winter’s menu features “The Bird Lady From Home Alone 2,” with pisco, mushroom broth, ginger, lime, and reaper tincture; and a “Bootlegger Flip,” with buttered yam moonshine, sorghum bourbon liqueur, lemon, heavy cream, roasted marshmallow, and egg. If beer’s your thing, there are twelve taps rotating specialty beers, and a selection of bottled beers to boot.
Feeling inspired? Velveteen Rabbit hosts private cocktail classes to teach you and your friends the art of bartending. (Yes, you get to drink what you make.) Naturally, we were thrilled to have this dynamic trio walk us through the best of Las Vegas cocktail culture. They know their stuff and now you will too.
Who’s thirsty? Let’s go Drink This City (of Sin)!
BRUNCH COCKTAIL OR HAIR OF THE DOG
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A healthy debate over brunch and mimosas 📷: @phwaygo . . . . . #PublicSchool #BuzzFeast #Lunch #Dinner #HappyHour #DinnerDate #LateNightEats #LAEats #DTLA #Vegas #VegasDinning #VegasEats #FoodPorn #Eeeeats #Foodie #BuzzfeedFood #LosAngeles #Dallas #DenverEats #Atlanta #ATL #ShermanOaks #Addison #Brunch #Mimosas
Delicious and in good quantity, bottomless mimosas are a staple to any brunch, but here you can switch it up and grab (almost) bottomless beermosas consisting of oj, wheat ale, peach, and lavender: the perfect balance of fruity and floral (as if drinking an airy, goose-down pillow [that will subsequently render you inebriated]).
Public School’s Downtown Summerlin location is the booze-filled schoolyard you’ve always wanted.
Venture away from the traditional recipe and instead try a sister or a cousin to the original. Mariena Mercer Boarini, Property Mixologist of Cosmopolitan, kills it when it comes to exotic little gems. Just taste for yourself with the Mushroom Margarita, featuring huitlacoche-infused mezcal, triple sec, lime, and lava salt. A keynote of fungus (or “Mexican Truffle,” if you will) transports a tried-and-true recipe into an otherworldly affair.
Ghost Donkey is a mezcal-heavy discotheque-cum-speakeasy situated at the back of Cosmopolitan’s Block 16.
Drink your way through history at this Vegas mainstay, which offers a thorough list of classic recipes from the various ages. If you’re in the mood for something stiff, try a Remember the Maine, bearing resemblance to the Manhattan, except with a touch of cherry and anise. Live-action Drunk History before your very eyes. For the full experience, snag a seat at the back room’s long, wooden bar.
Downtown Cocktail Room offers punch bowls for smaller and larger groups (up to 12 people), so you can collectively booze it up with your buds — or start a marathon with yourself. Punch recipes change seasonally. Afterwards, stumble into the Sip n Tip, DCR’s kid brother bar, which offers a casual vibe and abbreviated menu.
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Carrot juice: It should be freed from its slavery to juice bars. Its vegetal brightness works wonders with agave, but loves gin, too. Our “Critical Hit” (h/t to lil’ Edwin) blends it with #OFTD, añejo tequila, & Lemon Hart Blackpool (the only spiced rum that matters). 🍋, canela, & aquafaba round it out. Hear that #vegans? You get all the texture & none of the 🐓. 📸 @mayed4life . . . . #juiceit #dtlv #lvartsdistrict #18b #keeptheartinthedistrict #mixology #drinksmith #stupidtermsfor #bartender #drinknerd #cocktailporn #cocktails #bartending #fridaymood #hashtagcloud #isthatmeta #liquor #booze #hooch #drinkyourvegetables #fuckjambajuice #justkidding #wellmaybe
Jammyland is a newer addition to the Arts District, and our pals down the street mix some truly exceptional cocktails. They offer a rotating drink list, so you’ll never grow bored or listless (at least, not under their watch). The bartenders know their way with a bar spoon, so try a menu item or wander off script.
PUB, TAVERN, OR BREWERY
Tenaya Creek has been a local brewery staple in Las Vegas for 20 years. Their brewery offers a tap room which features their usual favorites like Bonanza Brown and Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout, but they also pour some really fun one-offs only available onsite.
The Dr. Feelgood at NoMad. Mezcal + fino sherry + suze + genepy + avocado + lime + cucumber + aleppo chili. An absolutely delightfully balanced sour and smoky libation with a deliciously smooth mouthfeel. The NoMad is a beautiful bar with dark wood and rose gold accents. It’s my favorite new hotel on the Strip.
Cornish Pasty Company’s “Stuck in Lemba.” Lemba Rum, Apple/clove syrup, lemon juice, expressed orange. Las Vegas is known for its heat, and boy does it get hot here. What people don’t realize that in the winter months, it really does get cold. So when the cold comes, the people of Las Vegas need warming up. Thankfully Jessie Grrrrl at Cornish Pasty Co. crafted this wonderful winter warmer out of Lemba Spanish rum, fresh lemon juice and a house made apple/clove syrup. All melted together with just the right amount of warm dilution to get you through a nippy winter night of bar hopping.
THEMED COCKTAIL at IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE BAR
The Kiss My Asteroid at OPIUM at Cosmopolitan by bartender Mariena Mercer. Peach nectar vodka, champagne and a garnish of Pop Rocks, is like a French 75 for astronauts that are on a crazy bender. OPIUM is a wildly fun immersive theatre experience at the Cosmpolitan. It’s set in space, so Mariena (property mixologist at Cosmopolitan) created a super(nova) cosmic cocktail for the occasion. It’s the perfect accompaniment to this hilariously unpredictable show (unlike any other show in Vegas).
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🥂CHAMPAGNE WISHES & CAVIAR DREAMS 🍾 camembert-infused vodka + lingonberry-cava syrup + benedictine + rue grappa + black truffle salt + caviar 🌹Care to indulge? ❤️ 📸: @theonlybsco 💫 . . . #fancy #champagnewishes #caviardreams #imbibe #indulge #dtlv #18b #lasvegas #champagnecocktail #wintercocktail
Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams at the Velveteen Rabbit by bartender Derrick Henninger. Camembert-infused vodka + lingonberry-cava syrup + benedictine + rue grappa + black truffle salt + caviar. This decadent treat uses sparkling (cava) in an unexpected way by infusing it with seasonal lingonberry and creating a syrup with it. This is definitely a unique libation, especially served with a spoon of caviar.
Lipstick & Cigarettes at Esther’s Kitchen by bartender Keith Bracewell. Applejack brandy + Benedictine + lemon + cinnamon syrup + cherry bark vanilla bitters + angostura + egg whites + lambrusco. This is the perfect cocktail to have before an incredible dinner at Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District. It’s like drinking a billowing cherry cinnamon cloud.
UNUSUAL COCKTAIL or COCKTAIL WITH SURPRISING INGREDIENTS
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Today we celebrate 12 years of serving craft cocktails in Downtown Las Vegas. As the second bar in the Fremont East District, we've witnessed the incredible growth of the community firsthand. By connecting thousands of people over the last dozen years, we like to think that we played our part in changing the face of the Fremont East District. Cheers to how far we've come as a community…and how far we've yet to go!🥂 — #DCR #DowntownCocktailRoom #FremontEast #CocktailBar #DelightfulDrinks #DowntownLasVegas #DTLV #DTLVArtsDistrict #DowntownVegas #FremontStreet #TravelVegas #DowntownLV #FremontStreetExperience #CocktailGram #CocktailPorn #MixologyArt #Mixologist #Drinkstagram #DrinksPorn #CraftCocktail #CraftCocktails #CocktailOfTheDay #ClassicCocktails #HandCraftedCocktails #Photography #PhotoOfTheDay #PicOfTheDay #POTD
DCR’s “One Size Fits None.” Meletti Amaro, Passion fruit, horseradish, Belgian wit. No rational mind would assume passion fruit and horseradish would pair well together, however when it comes to Downtown Cocktail Room, rationality is rarely the focus. With just two years under her belt in the craft cocktail scene DCR’s GM Jackie Loran seems to be thoroughly enjoying thinking outside of box.
This bright and citric libation sits beautifully over crushed ice. Let the sweetness of the passionfruit jump out of you in front before the bitter amaro and spice from the horseradish finish pleasantly for an all around wonderful experience.
COCKTAIL MADE BY A FRIEND
A Gin Sour by Alex Penalosa at Corduroy. Tanq10, cynar, orange slice, grenadine, lemon. If I’m being honest, I don’t drink a lot of cocktails when I go out, but on the rare occasion I do it’s gotta be from a bartender who also spends days bludgeoning their palate with flavors from all over the spectrum, because that’s the only kind of person who’s going to know how to balance all those elements. Alex Penalosa, Corduroy’s raven haired Rapunzel, is exactly that kind of bartender. Leaning Tanqurey10 and Cynar against house made grenadine and lemon, Alex didn’t reinvent the wheel for me (because none of us actually want to wrap our palate around something like that). What he did was perfectly showcase all the best elements of the ingredients without making them so pronounced that I had to think too much about them.
Thank you, Christine, Pamela, and Davey for taking us on a tour of Las Vegas Best Bars!
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Join us next week for more DRINK THIS CITY! Meanwhile, hit us in the comments — where should we travel next?