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Where to find the best Las Vegas cocktails

I’m the sort of gambler who watches $20 disappear in the slot machine and then calls it a night. And my evenings spent romping around nightclubs are long over. But I still find myself in Vegas multiple times a year in search of great food and excellent cocktails. Now that the country is opening up again, I took a road trip and enlisted the help of visual journalists Yadira Flores and Cody Long to create the ultimate guide to drinking in Las Vegas. What follows is our list of favorite bars and cocktails, with everything from a speakeasy to the best slush on the Strip. Enjoy the libations and remember to drink responsibly.

Speakeasy

The Bathtub Fizz cocktail at the Underground Speakeasy and Distillery at the Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

The allure of a speakeasy never gets old. Do I really want to go through a secret entrance, give a password for admittance, and sip a cocktail in a dark room with a bunch of strangers who were cool enough to know how to get in? Yes. There are plenty to choose from in Vegas, but the Underground at the Mob Museum is a favorite. (Of course the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement has a speakeasy.) There’s lots of mob paraphernalia (including the actual phone booth from inside the Four Deuces brothel and saloon in Chicago, run by Jonny Torrio and Al Capone in the ’20s) and an actual distillery that turns out three kinds of moonshine. To get into the bar’s side entrance, you’ll need the password (they post it on the bar’s Instagram story). The drinks are good and stiff and often with a fair amount of whimsy: The Bathtub Fizz is made with Ha’Penny Rhubarb Gin and served in a handheld bathtub. $14

300 Stewart Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89101, themobmuseum.org

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Slush

The Hennessy and Cola slushie at Best Friend in Park MGM in Las Vegas.
The Hennessy and Cola slushie at Best Friend in Park MGM in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

It’s impossible to walk 2 feet down the Strip in Vegas without seeing a slush machine churning a freezing neon liquid. And the person behind you, the person 2 feet in front of you and the one standing too close on your left are most likely each holding a giant bong-shaped container full of the stuff. These are the drinks you gulp if you want to start your hangover halfway through your beverage. If you want something that tastes like the advertised flavor and is fortified with an alcohol brand you’ve heard of, go to Roy Choi’s Best Friend in the Park MGM hotel. The Henny & Cola tastes like a Coke slurpee spiked with Hennessy. The Apple Bomb Crown Royal will make you think of an apple martini, and the Orange Dreamsicle with Stoli Vanilla tastes like a fluffy melted Creamsicle in a cup. $17 each. Add a shot for $6.

3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109, parkmgm.mgmresorts.com

Punch bowls

The Green Street punch bowl at the Dorsey cocktail bar in the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.
The Green Street punch bowl at the Dorsey cocktail bar in the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

I like to think of the Green Street at the Dorsey cocktail bar in the Venetian Resorts as a green juice but with 10 ounces of vodka thrown in for good measure. It’s one of the bar’s punch bowls, designed to satisfy four to six people, served in a large rose-gold-colored metal swan. The bartender starts by juicing fresh cucumber and apple, and then adds fresh lime juice, vodka, mint and some fizzy water. It’s garnished with slices of apple and plenty of edible flowers. This one goes down easy. And according to the made-up, vaguely scientific logic I apply to my body while drinking, the fresh vegetable and fruit juices make this one slightly better for me than your average cocktail. $90.

3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109, venetian.com

Classic cocktails

The Manhattan at the Rosina cocktail lounge in the Palazzo in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

The Rosina bar at the Palazzo hotel at the Venetian Resort looks like the inside of the world’s largest jewelry box. It’s one of the hotel’s Cocktail Collective bars (along with the Dorsey and Electra). This is where you’ll find precisely made Old-Fashioneds, martinis, Mai Tais and French 75s. The Manhattan is a particular favorite. Though you’ll find countless variations at bars around the world, the earliest versions of the Manhattan included rye, sweet vermouth, a couple dashes of bitters, and — of course— the cherry garnish. The citrusy bitters brighten the spicy rye, and the vermouth keeps everything balanced. If you feel like being adventurous, Rosina does have a series of secret menus with different versions of the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, Julep and Champagne cocktails. But, really, why mess with a good thing? $18.

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3325 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109, venetian.com/towers/the-palazzo.html

Only in Vegas

The "We're All Mad Here" cocktail is prepared at the Chandelier in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
The “We’re All Mad Here” cocktail is prepared at the Chandelier in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

Some drinks are meant to be a full experience. At the Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan, the We’re All Mad Here drink is an adventure you’ll find only in Vegas. Dreamed up by former chief mixologist Mariena Mercer, the cocktail is a nod to a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll’s novel:

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice says.

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“Oh, you can’t help that,” replies the cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

The book may be from 1865, but as we emerge from a global pandemic, the sentiment is especially fitting.

The We’re All Mad Here is presented in three parts. The first is a potion bottle full of Empress Indigo gin, affixed with a label that reads “Drink me.” The second is a goblet full of cardamom, ginger and Chardonnay syrup, lychee and elderflower liqueurs, apple rose water and lemon juice. The third is a piece of dehydrated pineapple flower, attached to the goblet with a label that reads “Eat me.” You pour the gin into the goblet and the drink quickly turns bright fuchsia (the butterfly pea in the gin interacts with the citrus, causing it to change color). Take a sip of the pink drink, nibble on the pineapple flower (it tastes like fruit leather) and soon you’ll be in another world completely. $20

3708 Las Vegas Blvd S., Las Vegas, NV 89109, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

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Bloody Mary

The Colossal Bloody Mary at HEXX Kitchen & Bar at Paris hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
The Colossal Bloody Mary at HEXX Kitchen & Bar at Paris hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

On your second morning in Vegas, a Bloody Mary is often necessary. The Colossal Bloody Mary at Hexx Kitchen + Bar at the Paris Hotel is garnished with the equivalent of a hearty breakfast. A chilled Alaskan king crab leg juts out of the top of the small pitcher. Jumbo shrimp are fastened to the side. Four strips of peppered bacon bob alongside the ice. A spear of peppers, pickled vegetables, tomato and blocks of cheddar balances across the top. A stalk of celery stands tall and inviting. It’s an impressive drink that vies for the attention of the many passersby, competing with the spectacle of the Bellagio fountains across the street. But underneath all the garnishes is a well-made Bloody Mary, fashioned with basil-infused vodka and the classic spiked tomato juice that’s light on the horseradish. Three sips in and you’ll feel alive again. $45

3655 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109, hexxlasvegas.com

Drinks with a view

The view out the nodrth-facing window at the Sky Fall lounge is easily the best on the Strip. Located on the 64th floor of the Delano hotel, it feels as if you’re on top of the world. You can see down to the other end of the Strip, over the Luxor pyramid and the points of the Excalibur castle, all the way to the Ferris wheel at Linq hotel and the lights across the new Resorts World casino. It’s beautiful during the day but magical in the evening. The cocktails are seasonal, but this is the perfect place to order a Vesper martini. If it’s good enough for James Bond … $TBA

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3940 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89119, delanolasvegas.mgmresorts.com

Cheap drinks

People stand outside of Flights at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
People stand outside of Flights at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
(Miranda Alam / For The Times)

There are many ways to imbibe in Vegas. If you’re on a budget, here are some tips:

Order drinks while you’re gambling. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the penny slots or betting $25 a hand at the blackjack table, most casinos will serve you drinks in an effort to keep you gambling.

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The Stage Door has $1 bottles of Budweiser, $2 Budweiser drafts, $3.75 domestic drafts and $5 two-ingredient cocktails. At Miracle Mile, which is attached to Planet Hollywood, Blondies has a $20 all-you-can-drink domestic draft beer and well drinks special, and you can get three drinks for $10 during happy hour at nearby Flights. For group drinks, PBR American Grill serves Porch Pounders punch bowls for $65 (100 ounces) and $35 (50 ounces).

3663 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109, miraclemileshopslv.com

Additional reporting by Yadira Flores and Cody Long


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