We’re often uncertain how other sites determine what goes on their “best” lists. Do they do have some research procedure? Or are they just the places the staff happened to be at recently and thus remember the most? We don’t know, and we really don’t care. When we were putting together this list, we looked at some very specific criteria – as we do with all the posts we don’t totally phone in at the last minute (Editor’s note: We never, ever phone it in. Ever. Well maybe after too many tequilas. But that was only once. Well … maybe twice.)
For this piece, the bar had to have opened in 2014, have something unique about it that set it apart from all the other bars that opened throughout the year and have some special reason we want to keep going back. These aren’t just the bars we’ve enjoyed since they’ve opened; these are the bars we hope will be around for years. Some we’ve written about before. Others we’re making sure get their due. But they’re all outstanding and exceptional and, as we say far too often of bars, great places to grab a drink.
Uniqueness: Many casinos try to class up their bars to create suave lounges for guests who want to experience luxury even as they still order a Manhattan because it’s the classiest drink they can think of. Aria has taken that notion and crafted something truly special with Alibi. Unlike the ubiquitous casino or lobby bars that dot the Strip, or the similar lounges that are cut away from the action, Alibi is in the center of the casino with views of the games and the people. Everything about it whispers elegant while remaining as exciting as everything at Aria.
Reason to return: The cocktails. We don’t even feel the need to make that a full sentence. The quality of the mixing and the flavors that meld together make the cocktails at Alibi so superb you’ll equate them to a five-star meal. If you know nothing about cocktails, Alibi will give you a treat to take home in your memory and try your damnedest to describe to your friends. If you’re a connoisseur, they’ll leave you examining your taste buds for every note and eager to be surprised.
Uniqueness: Even for a hotel and casino that’s clearly going after the millennial market, 3535 at the LINQ is a modern fantasy land for the lover of libations. The sleek and smooth bar offers 35 different house-made infusions, something that is quickly becoming a trend among the liquor-downing masses. The purists and elites may not be entirely on board yet, which is why bars like 3535 are able to stand out, but there’s definitely a wasabi-ginger infused tide rolling in.
Reason to return: Even without the outstanding drinks, 3535 has a modern and expressive atmosphere that feels more like a party bar in the middle of a casino rather than a casino bar that’s good for partying. And it’s not very often that you find a DJ booth that close to table games. At 3535 you can gamble, drink, dance, hide away in a little booth and drink some more. What more could you want in Vegas?
BLVD. Cocktail Company
Uniqueness: Obviously the décor at BLVD. Cocktail Company is something to be behold. It’s as though the 1920s hooked up with an old Vegas saloon and had a baby that was really into Ben Folds. BCC has an atmosphere that outshines even its scenery. The cocktails are delicious and diverse. And the piano music is warm and inviting. It’s exactly the kind of brilliance and ambiance we’ve to expect and enjoy from the same people who brought us Park on Fremont and Commonwealth.
Reason to return: One aspect of this bar, as well as its sister properties, is the approachability. They absolutely seem strange upon first entry, but the way they remain open and connected while staying true to their specialized nature makes them so repeatable. Park on Fremont and Commonwealth brought that connection to Fremont Street. And BLVD. Cocktail Company is continuing the tradition at the LINQ Promenade.
Drai’s Nightclub and Beach Club
Uniqueness: Drai’s After Hours has been one of our favorite spots for a long time, even before the Cromwell became the Cromwell. But we understand that not everyone wants to be bathed in red light while dancing next to semi-nude portraits in a basement on the Strip. Some people are weird like that. And we know very well how few opportunities there are to dance under the moonlight while looking down across the glow of Las Vegas. That’s what Drai’s Nightclub and Beach Club offer more than anyplace else – the club experience with a street feel rolled in.
Reason to return: The exciting thing about Drai’s isn’t its newness or even the big names it draws to its stage. The exciting thing about Drai’s is it’s empire. The Cromwell as a whole has become a bastion of the new hipness on the Strip. For all the people who think the mega resorts are gaudy and crave a boutique experience in the middle of the action, the Cromwell is a safe haven of hipsterdom. And that spirit can take you from Drai’s Beach Club to Drai’s Nightclub to Drai’s After Hours, all for your own epic 24-hour experience.
Uniqueness: We could easily mention all the clubs at SLS. They all opened this year and they’re all amazing. But if we have to devote our blog space to one right now, we have to give it to Sayers Club. Though it’s not totally unique, since there’s one in Hollywood too, the new Vegas venue is something special. As a spot dedicated to live performances, Sayers Club features emerging artists and huge entertainers who may or may not have found fame on the Strip, but definitely don’t have another space as intimate or beautiful to play. Sayers Club is for nights to remember and nights to make all your friends jealous – until you invite them along next time.
Reasons to return: The endless strings of performances at Sayers Club are among the best the Strip has to offer. You won’t see giant, lavish production numbers like most people liken to Vegas. But each time you go you’ll be entertained and enthralled by live music and artistry that’s hard to come by in a town full over-the-top glamour. It’s not that we have a problem with the massive shows. We love them and love how Vegas they are. But sometimes we want something soothing and solemn. And that’s what Sayers Club gives us in spades.