Flashy and loud, with clanging, smoky casinos and gambling everywhere you look, “Sin City” is not always an easy place to get a truly great drink. But dig a little deeper than the lights and showgirls and you can discover gems from hard-working food and drink industry folk bringing the real amid the faux.

While there are craft distillers across Nevada, there are few in Vegas, namely under-new-ownership Las Vegas Distillery, rum-focused Desert Cane Distillery, and one-of-a-kind show, experience, fine dining restaurant, and distillery, Lost Spirits. While many Vegas cocktails still run achingly sweet, even at spots like the Golden Tiki and other “craft cocktail” bars, there are still plenty of spots — some refreshingly divey, some craft-focused and nuanced — offering a welcome respite from The Strip’s chaos.

The Laundry Room

The Laundry Room tucked inside Commonwealth

Opened by Corner Bar Management inside pre-Prohibition-decor Commonwealth, The Laundry Room is a hidden “speakeasy” inside a clubby bar. Where Commonwealth is loud with DJs, Laundry Room is an intimate 22 seats with an upright piano for live music. Jazz enhances the seductive room under a vintage door-lined ceiling with drippy candles and Victorian furniture. Reservations ensure a relaxing respite — valuable in party-hard Vegas — while a red light outside indicates there are available seats.

Drink This: The good news is drinks are also lovely, as this is one of Vegas’ most creative menus. Cocktails by lead barman Anthony Partridge and team are partnered with popcorn in flavors like curry or chocolate, grouped by cocktail styles like sours or “bittered boozy.” Drinks cover the gamut, going vegetal with the Dill (rye whiskey, lime, cucumber, habanero, salt) or Found It (gin, lime, cucumber, rose, mint, egg white, bubbles). Especially intriguing are drinks like Mint ’n Mushroom (rancio wine, génépy, Fernet Branca Menta) or bright-bold That Curry Place (gin, ouzo, lemon, habanero, bitters, cucumber, mint, curry).

Ski Lodge at Superfrico

The Ski Lodge at Superfrico

Ski Lodge, hidden inside Superfrico in the Cosmopolitan hotel, might be the most campy-fun bar in Vegas. It looks just like its moniker suggests: a cozy camp lodge in the Alps, complete with board games, wood walls, faux fireplace, snowfall, and rounds of actors coming in and out, like an abominable snowman proposing to its girl. Bartenders dress in ski gear, and the playful vibe is a cheeky respite from Vegas’ overwrought glitz.

Drink This: Pleasing cocktails were developed by Leo Robitschek (formerly of NYC and London) and Superfrico executive of beverage, Niko Novick. Grow a Pear plays with gin, pear, lemon, and cinnamon with a subtle absinthe whisper from Pernod. Devil’s Dimples goes tart, vegetal, and herbaceous with mezcal, génépy, grapefruit, celery, and agave syrup.



It’s rare to find a bar where food is as good as the cocktails, especially in Vegas. Or where hospitality coats all in a warm glow, making you want to linger at the bar or front patio. Jammyland is a rarity, indeed, and arguably one of Vegas’ very best. They do right by many spirits, but it’s also rum central with Jamaican-inspired food from historic recipes (oh, those patties, jerk wings, Trinidadian mac pie, et. al.). Once you discover NYC and LA bar veterans Allan Katz and Danielle Crouch opened and run it, the quality makes sense.
Drink This: Rum is beautifully showcased in Hot Hand, a breezy, grassy cocktail of Kuleana Hui Hui light Hawaiian Rum, fresh honeydew and lime juices, purple basil, Thai chili tincture, and Clemént Mahina Coco. One of the best non-rum drinks is Selective Light, a tall, tart-fresh sipper of Granny Smith-infused Reposado Tequila, fresh ginger and lime, honeycrisp syrup, and carbonated Liquid IV tart apple kombucha.

Rosina and Electra at The Venetian

Rosina at the Venetian

With roomy suites for guests, The Venetian is also home to some of the better hotel cocktail bars on the Strip. Electra is a sleek club on the casino floor with one of Vegas’ biggest mezcal selections, a wall of digital artwork, and a by-reservation-only Bracelet Booth, a vortex-shaped art piece/sound system above a circular booth that resonates with sound and seats up to 12. Rosina is more chill, with a soul/R&B soundtrack, straightforward classic cocktails, and popular champagne call button.

Drink This: Rosina sticks to the classics in beautiful glassware. Electra’s cocktails are more interesting, some better than others, but generally with thoughtful combinations. Disgruntled Mai Tai is the most fun, a bold blend of rums with slightly bitter Aperol, lime, curaçao, and orgeat, with Underberg bitters’ little bottle cheekily stuck upside down into crushed ice. Electra’s Zodiac sign menu has a different astrological sign-themed cocktail each month, like the Taurus (gin, Green Chartreuse, mezcal, Byrrh Quinquina, and grapefruit).

Starboard Tack

Starboard Tack, a Las Vegas staple since 1972. The original was once the watering hole of famous strip performers, casino employees, and locals.

Starboard Tack is an old school revival of a 1970s restaurant/bar that will appeal to rum, tiki, and retro lovers, or anyone who loves a dive with a bit of class (and video poker). Aquatic-themed stained glass, a seafaring mural, booths upholstered in tropical print, and bartenders who care about rum and cocktails make it one of Vegas’ best dives, alongside Frankie’s Tiki Room.

Drink This:  I love the anise-y touch of Pernod in their house daiquiri. Drinks like Yellowman showcase grassy rhum agricole with Rhum Clement Canne Bleue, bianco vermouth, lychee, and lime bitters. Tuaca Flocka Flame plays with pandan-infused white rum, Campari, Tuaca (Italian citrus vanilla brandy), and a flaming pandan leaf.

Libertine Social

Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay

Inside Mandalay Bay, Libertine Social is a welcoming hotel bar for three key reasons. First, quality food like corn pudding topped with caviar inside an egg, or scallop crudo in apple vinaigrette accented with chilies, fennel, charred onion, melon, and chive oil. Secondly, kind bartenders who care about making good drinks. Third, and most importantly, a thoughtful cocktail menu from renowned “Modern Mixologist” Tony Abou-Ganim, a cocktail pioneer since the 1990s in San Francisco, now long a Vegas resident.

Drink This: Abou-Ganim is known for creating the Cable Car in San Francisco at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in the 1990s. His version at Libertine is the menu standout, featuring spiced rum with orange curaçao, lemon, and a thankfully understated (read: not too sweet) cinnamon sugar rim. Tony’s draft Negroni and Libertine G&T served in Spain’s visually striking gin and tonic goblet style are worth ordering. The Atomic Fizz is an easy-drinking crusher featuring vodka and Aperol with lemon, prickly pear puree, seltzer water, and egg white.

Downtown Cocktail Room

Downtown Cocktail Room’s Miracle on Bourbon Street cocktail.

Not only is Downtown Cocktail Room (DCR) a much-needed respite from the deafening noise of Fremont Street, but since 2007, it’s been one of Vegas’ cocktail renaissance pioneers. While described by some reviews as “swanky,” I found it dim, seductively divey, art-lined,and smelling faintly of smoke, recalling decades past. A friendly, heavily female bartending team keeps it chill and fun, as do local DJs.

Drink This: House drinks please a range of palates, from the popular, refreshing Killa Kiwi (vodka, kiwi puree, vanilla bean syrup, lemon) to the spirituous, flaming Miracle on Bourbon Street (bourbon, Zirbenz stone pine liqueur, orange simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, clove-studded orange peel). Vegas von Krampus was my favorite (and the most fun) drink, a minty melange of fernet, absinthe, Moroccan mint simple syrup, and root beer with a crushed red hot peppermint rim.

Atomic Liquors

Atomic Liquors, a Las Vegas legend since 1952

A Vegas legend since 1952, Atomic Liquors is the kind of “elevated” dive where you find solid cocktails in a retro-cool, mid-century space complete with jukebox, cigarette machine, outdoor patio, and neon signage. The oldest bar in Las Vegas, it’s a welcome respite from the party zone of the Fremont Street Experience it’s surrounded by. Since 2012, brothers Kent and Lance Johns have run the bar with partner Derek Stonebarger.

Drink This: While dive settings suggest a beer, and there are plenty here, they make fun, decent cocktails. Think a bright Oso’s Honey Jar served in a honey bear glass with mezcal, rum, Barenjager, lemon, ginger, carrot, and cardamom. Or the not-too-sweet, vivid blue Tumblr Snapper, a tiki tribute with rum, cachaca, passionfruit, coconut, lime, blue curaçao, and a splash of local Lovelady Brewing 9th Island Pineapple Sour beer.

Velveteen Rabbit

Mr. Sandman cocktail at Velveteen Rabbit

Opened by sisters Pam and Christina Dylag in 2013, Velveteen Rabbit is a pioneering Arts District cocktail bar with a mishmash of vintage furniture. The space feels comfortable, lived in, and chill, with an outdoor patio beyond the atmospheric bar.

Drink This: Even if ideal balance isn’t always achieved, cocktails are ambitious with welcome highlights of rarer spirits. While a tea infused-gin, cucumber, and berries Queen’s Cup just tastes like fruit juice — and a buttered mezcal and molé Hot Cocoa veers too sweet — Mr. Sandman is a silky olive oil-washed Cognac and thyme-infused grappa cocktail with amontillado sherry, rosemary honey, pear, lemon, and vegan aquafaba foam. Another standout is Knifey Moloko, tart and balanced with mezcal, spiced cordial, cucumber, lemon meringue cream, soda water, and saline solution.

Skyfall at the Delano

Skyfall Lounge at the Delano Hotel includes a panoramic view of the city

Next to chef Alain Ducasse’s Rivea restaurant on the 64th floor of the Delano hotel, Skyfall is all about stunning, sweeping views over Vegas from one end of the Strip. Lights shimmer below and mountains glow at sunset in a swank lounge that pulls inspiration from James Bond and the space age but with modern tones. Bar bites are by Rivea (think short rib tacos or panisse chickpea fries). Add your name to the waiting list or reserve a VIP table at the outdoor patio where views feel even more brilliant up close.

Drink This: These aren’t exactly cocktail geek drinks. Expect juicier concoctions alongside some classics, like a tall Half Light beer tiki cocktail or straightforward Penicilina of chili-infused tequila blanco, ginger, lemon, and a touch of mezcal. But all is worthwhile with this view.

The Underground at the Mob Museum

A small-scale working distillery on display at the Mob Museum. Photos courtesy Mob Museum.

The Mob Museum is an intriguing museum about the gritty history of the mob with all its rough layers. The fun aspect of the museum is the “secret” Underground basement speakeasy, lined with 1920s artifacts, which actually houses a mini-distillery where distillery manager David Vondrasek experiments with spirits infusions like a vivid absinthe, moonshines, and even the occasional beer. Art Deco-style wallpaper, vintage clothing, and a glowing bar are enhanced by live jazz.

Drink This: Expect Prohibition-era favorites like a Southside alongside house drinks like Bathtub Fizz served in a mini-bathtub: gin, sloe gin, Aperol, sugar, lemon, bitters, and egg white for a frothy foam. The elevated house Old Fashioned is popular, served in a flask hidden in a hollowed-out book.

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Founding The Perfect Spot in 2007 sharing top recommends globally in food and drink, Virginia Miller is W. North America Academy Chair for The World's 50 Best Restaurants, regular columnist at The Bold Italic and Medium, Distiller Magazine, American Whiskey Magazine, Whisky Magazine, VOICES, Liquor.com, Gin Magazine, etc. She held roles as Zagat SF/NorCal editor, SF Guardian restaurant critic, Table8 National Editor/VP of Content. Published in over 60 international publications, she’s covered global dining, travel, spirits, cocktails, hotels and bars with regular columns at Time Out, Where Traveler, Google’s Touringbird, Food Republic, Thrillist, Travelux, to name a few. She wrote The Official Emily in Paris Cocktail Book. Virginia consults in dining, spirits, cocktails and drink. She co-created Avion’s Reserva Cristalino tequila with Pernod Ricard’s House of Tequila innovation, marketing and distilling teams and is now working multiple agave spirits projects in Mexico over recent years, including cutting edge innovation products and blends for different clients. She consults for multiple distilleries on short-term projects, whether evaluating and providing feedback on samples or products or multiple versions. She helps create various samples and flavor profiles with distilling teams or in labs, edits or writes tasting notes, provides feedback on marketing materials and leads tastings virtually or in-person. She leads tastings virtually for Whiskies of the World and for company parties or private events, educating on a range of spirits. Virginia creates drink menus for Michelin-starred restaurants (like Dominique Crenn’s Golden Poppy in Paris, a multi-month project creating an entire menu of cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails with stories and photos for the restaurant’s launch). She aids in honing and curating food and drink menus and provides feedback on dishes and drinks. Virginia judges in many international dining, food, spirits, cocktails and bars competitions and awards (including SF World Spirits, ADI Craft Distilling, Tales of the Cocktail, Good Food Awards, IWSC in London, Nola Spirits Comp, Whiskies of the World, etc.) and has visited over 13,000 restaurants and even more. top bars around the world.