17 Best Bars in Las Vegas

by ANDREA BENNETT for CN Traveler March 04, 2018

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Believing that Las Vegas’ favorite pastime is gambling is an understandable mistake—but all you have to do is check out the temples it's made to mixology to know that cocktailing is the city's real claim to fame. While you’ll still find plenty of “free” drinks on the casino floor, part of the experience is sitting inside a tri-level crystal chandelier or a mid-modern, Bond-themed bar with sweeping Strip views. Our list of Las Vegas' best bars covers it all, so prepare to enjoy the art of the cocktail, in true Vegas style.

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Ivan Carrillo

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Velveteen Rabbit

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Two sisters oversee a seasonally rotating cocktail menu that will blow your mind, in a funky and artsy section of Downtown Las Vegas. Depending on when you show up, you might find drinks that bring in left-field ingredients like burnt pecan syrup, brie cream, or turmeric honey, always to stunning results. Vintage decor and a welcoming atmosphere make this a pleasant antidote to the Strip.

Courtesy of Hyde

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Hyde

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Hyde’s got a bit of a split personality going on. Early in the evening, it’s the perfect spot for a quiet cocktail with the best view of the fountains. After 10, things turn up quick. If you're there for its thumping club hours, you'll want to go all in with bottle service to ensure you get the attention you need. Alternatively, it’s a great place to rent out for a private function that warrants pulling out all the stops. When in Vegas, right?

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Courtesy The Chandelier

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The Chandelier

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You know you've landed in Las Vegas when you step into a three-floor lounge housed in a two-million crystal chandelier. Each floor has its own vibe, but our favorite might be the second, inside the chandelier, where the bartenders (who might be more accurately called artists) concoct magic from a long list of foams, tinctures, purees, garnishes, and hard-to-find spirits. Come dressed up and ready to throw down some cash.

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Courtesy Commonwealth

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Commonwealth

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Head here for a refreshing break from all the see-and-be-seen glitz of The Strip. A long list of beers also provides a welcome reprieve from the cocktail-heavy drinking scene. On nice days, the rooftop is a great place to catch up with a group, surrounded by Las Vegas’s Downtown hipsters. If hops aren't your thing, the cocktails are simple and tend towards the classic, but delicious, and the wine list is almost as extensive as the beer one.

Courtesy The Dorsey

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The Dorsey

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The Dorsey opened in late 2016, and was absolutely the best lounge opening of the year. Sam Ross (Milk & Honey, Attaboy) brought super high-end cocktails to the space, in which David Rabin (Cafe Clover) is a partner. In the former Bourbon Room, it's a dark and sexy space that makes you want to hole up and never leave. The Dorsey's sophisticated and sleek atmosphere, coupled with its close location to Venetian's "Restaurant Row," makes it the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap.

Christopher DeVargas

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The Golden Tiki

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It wouldn't be a Vegas trip without a good hefty dose of kitsch. You'll find it here, in an unassuming Chinatown strip mall, complete with shrunken head dolls. It’s all-Tiki-everything to the extreme: Brace yourself for sugary, fluorescent drinks, themed nights, and a staff that’s so in on the joke, it’s hard to tell whether this place actually takes itself seriously (thankfully, it doesn't). Here’s to getting a little weird.

Courtesy of Bound

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Bound

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Bound is 1970s Vegas swank at its finest: Dark, warm decor and carefully balanced cocktails that are famous nationwide for good reason. It’s perfect for a pre-dinner drink (head upstairs to Giada when that appetite kicks in) or for a one-on-one catch-up with an old friend. To see what all the fuss is about, try the Breakfast Martini, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and orange marmalade. Talk about “hair of the dog.”

Thomas Hart Shelby

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Bond

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Colors pop and crystal shimmers in this thoroughly fun spot. Order a cheeky take on a classic, like an Old Fashioned that is turned on its head with the addition of chai masala tea syrup. Then play some games, make some noise, and keep the cocktails flowing. You'll find that the bar staff is enjoying the night almost as much as you are, and they're quick to offer suggestions and advice on where you should take the party next.

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Courtesy Herbs & Rye

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Herbs & Rye

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Herbs & Rye doesn't just make incredible cocktails; it also provides an education in what you're drinking. Here, the focus is on the classics and the stories behind them. (It’s why, for example, the cocktail list is separated not by spirit, but by era.) Don't let its drab, strip-mall exterior fool you. Pass through these doors and you'll find an old-school speakeasy, with red walls and deep oak furniture, filled with a staff who cares deeply about what’s going into your glass.

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Jim K. Decker

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Franklin Lounge

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A stately, tranquil sibling to The Delano’s 64th-floor Skyfall, here you can cozy up to the fireplace with a cocktail made with the hotel’s own double-oaked bourbon. If nothing on the cocktail menu immediately inspires you, convince your friends to go in on a punch that can be split four ways. There’s a reason this place can get so busy during peak hours; it’s much, much more than your average lobby bar.

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Jeff Green

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Parasol Up

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Because of its central location in the Wynn Las Vegas, Parasol Up offers arguably the best people-watching on the whole Strip. Oh, and the cocktail and wine lists are pretty great too. See the steady stream of people from all over the world heading to the casino floor, as you sip on creative, but not overly complicated, cocktails that riff on the hotel’s own history. (Go for the blackberry-infused Sinatra Smash, for starters.)

Thomas Hart Shelby

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Vesper Bar

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This is the all-chrome-everything, shiny-mirrored-walls, glitzy Vegas you've heard about. But it’s not a veneer: The cocktails are as swoon-worthy as the decor. Cosmopolitan’s head mixologist Mariena Mercer is just as comfortable handling the classics (and honoring them) as she is stepping way out of line. Take the Raising Hell, for instance—a riff on the traditional El Diablo that brings mezcal, spiced raisin syrup, and apples into the mix.

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Courtesy The Palazzo, Las Vegas

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Rosina

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This place is like an incredible surprise right at the base of the Palazzo elevators. Rich finishes and gorgeous lighting give the small room (it seats only 50 to 65 people) Gatsby-era, Art Deco fabulousness. It's so transporting, you'll almost forget where you are—save for the slot machines you can see through the window. The menu is refreshingly basic—no crazy ingredients or tinctures, no eye of newt. Just impeccably served, tried-and-true classics, broken out into three different categories: "shaken," "stirred," and "bubbly."

Courtesy MGM Resorts

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Petrossian Bar

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Smack in the middle of the action at The Bellagio, this classic caviar-and-Champagne establishment is where to go to celebrate that big casino win. Sure, you'll find the live piano, attentive service, and high-priced libations you’d expect, but there’s also more going on here than the traditional Petrossian experience. Check out the newly revamped cocktail menu, designed by star mixologist Ricardo Murcia, filled with bold flavors and luxurious touches (diamond-shaped ice blocks!).

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Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

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Mandarin Bar

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Known by locals as the “Corner Bar” for its location tucked away on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, come here for stunning views through floor-to-ceiling glass and impeccable service. Cocktails lean towards innovative takes on classics, with the help of a host of unconventional and hard-to-find ingredients (ever tried smoked mandarin orange tea syrup?). Even the mocktails and bar snacks are curated with care. An undercurrent of sleek sophistication permeates the space and its menus.

 

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Starboard Tack

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Freshly defibrillated, this 50-year-old bar embraces all things retro; it'll feel like you're walking into 1970’s Las Vegas. Local in-the-know hipsters flock here for affordable, but innovative, cocktails and an eclectic menu that takes cues from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Don't let its slightly out of the way location deter you: That’s what makes this place such a beloved semi-secret. It’s a slice of history and a dose of forward-looking bar innovation at the same time.

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Courtesy Skyfall Lounge

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Skyfall Lounge

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A James Bond-inspired futuristic space with one of the best views of Vegas in the city. The bar snacks, from Alain Ducasse’s outpost next door, is topped only by the complex beverage selection. Ranging from the lightweight to the intense, it offers something for everyone, no matter what kind of night you're trying to have. We'd recommend starting your night here, to see the sun set over the desert from 64 floors up.

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