You won’t have to search hard in Las Vegas to uncover the spirit of speakeasies. Several bars in Sin City re-create the glamour, secretive attitude and stiff cocktails that were hallmarks of the Prohibition Era.
In fact, Mandalay Bay recently announced the debut of a joint designed to transport guests back to a time when a hidden door led to an illicit night of drinking and decadence. The 4,648-square-foot venue called 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison will be tucked away just off the escalator at the entrance to The Shoppes at Mandalay Place. It officially opens on April 17.
Madison, who formerly starred as Bo Peep in the now defunct striptease spectacular “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and is well known for her reality TV stint on “Girls Next Door” as one of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends, is lending more than her name to the venture. She’s choreographing “Bourbon Burlesque,” a sensual revue that will be showcased there on Fridays and Saturdays. It will feature steamy striptease vignettes backed by a live jazz band.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this new project,” said Madison in a statement. “We look forward to introducing Las Vegas to glamorous burlesque set inside an intimate 1920s-style speakeasy.”
A centerpiece of the décor in 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque will be a classic automobile from the Roaring Twenties. Other design elements evoking a Gatsby-esque vibe will include dark woods, plush banquettes and dim lighting provided by elegant chandeliers.
Near the main entrance there will be a walk-up bar surrounded by brickwork and barrels of whiskey. The signature drink from the bar’s Prohibition Era-inspired mixology program is the 1923 Barrel-Aged Manhattan.
An intimate space with 15 VIP tables, 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque can accommodate up to 325 people. In addition, there will be a 25-person cigar room with a humidor that boasts premium hand-rolled stogies.
Here are six more bars in Las Vegas where you can wet your whistle as well as satisfy your thirst for the long-gone days of mobsters, bootleggers and Jazz Age cool.
• Bar Prohibition! at the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
If you’re looking for history in Vegas, head to the Golden Gate in downtown at the corner of Fremont and Main streets. This boutique resort can trace its roots back to 1906. It actually lived through the wild years of Prohibition, which stretched from 1920 to 1933. In order to pay tribute to its past, the Golden Gate gave its casino bar the name Bar Prohibition! on Dec. 5, 2013, which was the 80th anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal. Stop by and select a tipple – like the Flaming Side Car or the Italian Kiss – from the bar’s Prohibition Drink Menu. All of them are served in discreet coffee mugs, which was how Prohibition drinkers used to elude lawmakers.
• Downtown Cocktail Room at 111 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
It would be easy to walk past Downtown Cocktail Room (also known as D.C.R.), which sits on Las Vegas Boulevard just south of Fremont Street, without even noticing it. A door is covertly hidden along a brick façade and marked only by a neon sign in lower-case letters that reads “downtown.” Inside this 3,000-square-foot watering hole created by Michael Cornthwaite, you’ll find a shadowy, bohemian chic setting. Another indication that you’ve entered a speakeasy is the presence of absinthe, which is offered in three different preparations (traditional, panache and scorched). Plus, the menu has classic cocktails like the Blood and Sand, made with scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry Heering and orange juice. It bears the same name as the 1922 bullfighter film starring Rudolph Valentino and Rita Hayworth. At Downtown Cocktail Room, there is also a back room where a DJ regularly spins an eclectic mix of music.
• Commonwealth at 525 E. Fremont St.
This pre-Prohibition Era bar is part of downtown’s bustling Fremont East Entertainment District. Commonwealth’s exposed brick, subdued lighting and grainy woods contribute to the secretive tone. Although it feels like something sneaky may be going on in here, people are more likely to get rowdy from a DJ set or live music performance than a police bust. You can order finely crafted cocktails, such as the Monkey Flower, from the 20-foot-long bar. In addition, there’s a rooftop patio as well as an exclusive backroom speakeasy dubbed “The Laundry Room” (the number to text for access can be found on Commonwealth’s logo clothespins).
• Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at The Cosmopolitan
This is one of Vegas’ hottest new venues. It boldly combines the atmospheres of a bar, nightclub, show and restaurant in what has been hailed as a “grand social experiment.” Practically taking a page from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Rose. Rabbit. Lie. will immerse you in a world of lavish parties and privileged opulence. You’ll enter a chamber with multiple mystery doors. Regardless of which one you pass through, you’ll discover a truly unique, ever-evolving world made up of clever theatrics, globally inspired small plates and specialty cocktails like the gin-based Monkey Gland, Survivor and Down the Rabbit Hole.
• Savile Row at Luxor
Evoking London’s famous fashion district through the idea of “made to measure” exclusivity, Savile Row is a low-lit speakeasy of sorts. Spanning just 2,000 square feet, you can partake of the elite, Old English atmosphere and creative mixology program only if you can find its mysterious unmarked entrance on the appropriate night (i.e., Savile Row is only open on Sundays and Mondays). Starting on March 31, Savile Row will host Provocouture on select Monday evenings from 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. This LGBT event is devised to tap into guests’ sensual sides with seductive performances, unique cocktails and vintage pop music.
• The Mob Bar at Downtown Grand
Just a few steps across the street from the front door of The Mob Museum (more formally known as The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) lies this bar. The décor is reminiscent of a 1920s supper club, and here the staff re-creates the traditions of the Prohibition Era year round. The Mob Bar’s handcrafted cocktails are certainly mob-worthy. Three great picks that are sure to satisfy your inner need for lawlessness are the Ambush, Smoking Gun and Bloody Italian.