By Kristine McKenzieVEGAS.com
Las Vegas is a place where you can escape from your day-to-day life. While you’re here you want to experience new things and explore the kind of places you can’t find at home – and that includes bars. While there are bars in Vegas that simply offer you a seat and a cold drink, there are others that give you a truly unique experience while you sip your cocktail. We’ve come up with a guide to some of the most unconventional bars in town that serve their drinks with a bit of a twist.
Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
The Chandelier bar is the stunning centerpiece of Las Vegas’ newest hotel, The Cosmopolitan. The 10,000-square-foot, three-level structure is strung with curtains of more than 2 million sparkling crystals, the largest quantity of beads to be used in one installation in North America. The outside of the bar looks like a mammoth chandelier and within the bar are 10 more custom-made chandeliers, which add to the decadent, glittering atmosphere.
“We wanted The Chandelier to become the iconic center of this groundbreaking new resort, so we designed it as a larger-than-life lounge and bar where people would feel that they were in a fantastical chandelier,” said David Rockwell, founder and CEO of Rockwell Group, designers of the bar.
The bar has three different levels, connected by a glass spiral staircase, each providing a slightly different vibe and cocktail menus.
The drinks here are an art form. Each level of the bar features different creative concoctions ranging from about $10 – $14.
The bottom level of The Chandelier is open to the casino area and features comfortable seating and upbeat music from a DJ. Specialty drinks include the signature Thai Down, made from Milagro Blanco, Domaine De Canton, strawberry puree, Thai chili syrup and Thai basil leaves.
In the center level of the bar you feel like you’re enveloped within the chandelier. This level features cocktails designed with molecular garnishes. There’s even a separate cocktail kitchen where mixologists use things like a sous vide vacuum and an index of chemicals used in molecular gastronomy to create cocktails you won’t find anywhere else.
One of the specialties is the Fire Breathing Dragon, garnished with a dehydrated raspberry treated with liquid nitrogen. Once you put the raspberry in your mouth, smoke is released.
The top of The Chandelier is adjacent to the hotel’s shopping area. The vibe here is lively and the cocktails are more festive, including a variety of champagnes and drinks made with floral elements like house-made rose and lavender syrups. It’s the best place to end your evening out at The Chandelier by sipping the soothing Bed Thyme cocktail, made with chamomile and lavender syrups with thyme Cognac.
Downtown Las Vegas
512 Fremont St.
If you want to rekindle a bit of your youth, Las Vegas has the bar for you. Insert Coin(s), which opened recently in Downtown Las Vegas, is a gamers’ paradise.
This bar lets adults get in touch with their inner child by combining cocktails with video games.
Christopher LaPorte, owner of Insert Coin(s), said he wanted to create a place with an ultralounge feel dedicated to video games. “It’s an 87 billion dollar-a-year industry – someone’s playing video games,” he said.
People are definitely playing in Las Vegas. LaPorte estimates the bar gets 800-850 visitors a night.
Insert Coin(s) features 45 classic arcade games including favorites like Pac Man, Centipede, Frogger and Space Invaders.
For those who prefer something more modern, there are also 30 video game consoles – everything from the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360.
No lounge would be complete without bottle service, but it’s a little different here.
Prices start at $100 for a half bottle. With your bottle you also get two consoles and a video game menu to choose whatever games you want to play on the two flat-screen TVs at your table. If you aren’t an expert, don’t worry – a game manager can help you learn the games.
Insert Coin(s) also has a 60-seat bar where you can join in on the fun and play one of 12 games displayed above the bar. Order one of the specialty drinks with names like the Blinky or the Clyde, get a controller, jump in on a game and compete against your fellow patrons.
“There’s a social aspect to video gaming that people are underestimating,” said LaPorte. “It’s a new way for people to meet. The new pick-up line here is ‘Can I get next?’”
Mandalay Bay and the Monte Carlo
Minus 5 is the perfect bar to hang out in when the mercury rises above 100 degrees in Vegas or when you just want a really unusual and fun place to drink. The bar earned its name because it is made entirely of ice and is chilled to a brisk 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 Celsius).
After you pay admission, you’ll get dressed up in toasty parkas, gloves and boots provided by Minus 5.
From there it’s on to the 1,200-square-foot bar, which is created from 80 tons of Canadian lake ice. There are ice walls, ice seats covered in animal skins, ice sculptures, a 400-pound ice chandelier, an ice bar and even glasses made of ice.
Rupert King, general manager of Minus 5 Ice Bar at the Monte Carlo said the glasses are shipped from New Zealand (they are made from New Zealand artesian water) and the bar goes through about 10,000 a month. The bar tracks them as they are shipped and monitors the temperature at each stage of their journey. Obviously these glasses can only be used once. “We tried putting them in the dishwasher but they kept disappearing,” King joked.
The ice interior of the bar takes about 10 days to build and it’s good for a year, after which it’s redesigned, so it’s always a new experience, said King.
It takes a crew of 10 to set up the bar and master ice carvers come in to create sculptures and intricate designs. Currently you’ll find a 9-foot polar bear and an ice replica of Mt. Rushmore inside Minus 5. The designs change to reflect what’s going on around Las Vegas. For example there was a large bull statue made of ice during the National Finals Rodeo.
Given the extreme temperature in the bar, King said people normally last about 25 – 45 minutes in the cold although some parties have been known to stay for a couple of hours.
Vodka is the drink of choice inside Minus 5, although they can make you anything you want. However beer drinkers should be aware that it takes about 15 minutes for one to freeze, said King.
“It’s the only place in Vegas where the longer you drink your beer the colder it gets.”