Downtown Las Vegas offers visitors the chance to experience the same excitement and nightlife that the city is known for, but with smaller crowds than the Strip. Next time you’re here, make sure to stop by these top-notch spots and grab one of their cocktails you won’t find anywhere else. Or you can just try all of them—decisions are hard.
Oscar’s Beef • Booze • Broads
KAREN HILL’S PALOMA
On the second floor of the Plaza, one can find a flurry of refreshing cocktails on Oscar’s cocktail menu. These cocktails include Karen Hill’s Paloma made with tequila, Jarritos, Pamplemousse Liqueur, and lime, the Fairy Nectar comprised of gin, Lillet Blanc, Domaine de Canton and plum bitters, and the Whiskey Dreamcatcher with Maker’s Mark, elderflower, apricot and orange juice. Paying tribute to the extended run at the Plaza of the popular and critically acclaimed music and comedy show, the Scintas, Oscar’s cocktail also offers The Scinta Affair that floats a tequila infused lemon sorbet in sparkling wine.
Oak and Ivy
APPLE PIE HARVEST
When it comes to the cocktail game, Oak & Ivy is a real standout. Nestled in an upgraded shipping container in the center of Downtown Las Vegas’ Container Park, Oak & Ivy’s trained mixologists combine both classic and innovative ingredients to bring patrons the ultimate cocktail experience. Their “Apple Pie Harvest” is all the rage and certainly something you won’t find anywhere else. To make the superstar staple, mixologists behind the bar combine Apple-scented Clyde Mays with Bar Keep Apple Bitters and finish it off with a pipette of Allspice Dram. And since this is Vegas, they blowtorch a brown-sugared Granny Smith apple slice topper right in front of you as well. Side note: they also have a cult following for their Moscow Mules (but you weren’t going to get only one drink anyways, right?).
Downtown Cocktail Room
The Downtown Cocktail Room (or DCR as locals call it) is a Las Vegas favorite due to its ever-changing seasonal menus. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall all feature deviations from their classic drink list, keeping locals coming back for new custom specials. One of their most unique drinks is a year-round keeper though, and comes with some unusual toppings. The “Mating Call” is a fusion of Cachaca (a sugar-cane spirit) and Yerba Mate tea, garnished with a cut of smoked cheddar and sugar-soaked blueberry decor. The mixologists at DCR surely stepped up the current sweet and savory culinary trend with this one since its ingredients combine to form a sultry smoky-sweet elixir. If this combo seems too adventurous you can always grab a friend and share one of their classic cocktail punch bowls, served exactly as the name hints.
Herbs & Rye
BLOOD AND SAND
If a cocktail menu organized by time period and a generous set of happy hours (both dinner and drink) pique your interest, then Herbs and Rye should be top on your Las Vegas bucket list. The restaurant’s “Blood and Sand” cocktail is listed under the Prohibition era, but there’s nothing secret about it—since it’s lit on fire before being served. The cocktail’s ingredients are listed on the menu as scotch, cherry heering, sweet vermouth, and orange juice with some zest—a combination sure to please even after the main display. Speaking of their happy hour—half price steaks? Order up.
Park on Fremont
DERBY BREAKFAST CLUB
Park on Fremont is the perfect place to catch breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ve got drinks to pair with their food for every meal. Shoot for an AM dining time and experience what many would say is their most unique doozy all day: the “Derby Breakfast Club”. Served in a mason jar, this drink is a twist on the classic Bloody Mary using bacon-infused vodka, hickory smoke, and fresh house-made Mary mix. What makes the drink really unique though is its toppings—a piece of perfect bacon and an entire pickled egg. Make reservations for the porch ahead of time and get a great view of Fremont Street while sipping and eating your drink.
Velveteen Rabbit is a cocktail bar featuring classic vintage decor, but their drinks are anything but old. The owners are two entrepreneurial sisters who are also expert mixologists. Their “Green Bitch” cocktail features a set of very unusual ingredients including Green Chartreuse, Strega, lemon, celery, egg white, simple syrup, and curry bitters. The components of the drink were carefully selected to offset the French herbal liqueur, creating a mixture that combines to form a perfectly balanced drink. PS: If you’re looking for a pick-me-up after the Green Bitch try the fluffy “Dorian Grey” – it’s an Earl-Grey infused vodka cocktail and comes with a shortbread biscuit.
Vanguard brings a perfect combination of superb mixologists and guest DJs to Fremont Street. This has made this lounge a favorite for locals and tourists alike. The space is decorated in super trendy industrial chic, which many consider a nice break from the numerous themed bars in the neighborhood. Their top-of-the-menu “Tennessee Rose” is a sure favorite for its whiskey flavor and sweet undertones- a.k.a. a combination of Bonnie Rose Apple Spiced Whiskey, Lime Juice, Sumac Grenadine, and Maple Syrup. If you’ve got steady enough hands, make sure to grab a the unique drink and head to Vanguard’s dance floor—where music and cocktail combine to form bliss.
Chandeliers and a glass bar wall may decorate Classic Jewel, but the real stunners are the drinks. “The Heat” lives up to its name as a blend of Sauza Hornitos Reposado, chili and jalapeños, sweet agave nectar, orange juice, and lime juice. Luckily, Classic Jewel’s mixologist allows you can choose the heat of your peppers on a scale of 0-2 before creating the drink, depending on how brave you are. One of the best parts though? If you really like “The Heat” you can even live above Classic Jewel (since it’s located at the base of a residential high rise).
PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME
Atomic Liquor is a staple in Las Vegas, mostly due its history of famous Vegas clientele and long-gone rooftop mushroom cloud shows—courtesy of a former government bomb-testing area a mere 50 miles away. While you may have missed the window for that explosive experience by half a decade or so, Atomic Liquor is still sending shockwaves through Vegas today for their stellar cocktails. Their “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” mix is quite a crowd pleaser and unlike other bars, actually includes the title ingredients and not just flavor. The drink is a perfect blend of rye whiskey, sloe gin, blackberry, and peanut butter served in a mason jar. It’s exactly as mouthwatering as it sounds. Just like mom used to make, right?