10 Ways To Get Drunk In Vegas Without Sitting At A Slot Machine

Nov 13, 2012 5:01 pm

There's more to Sin City than drinking in casinos

Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fpat/">fPat</a> on Flickr
Photo: fPat on Flickr
It's your Vegas vacation. Spend it in front of a great cocktail, not a lame machine.
 

When you really think about it, the fact that Las Vegas exists is truly amazing. It's essentially a funhouse mirror version of America (and Paris and ancient Rome) that cropped up in the middle of a desert as a means to bankrupt the very people who pay to be there. When you look close enough, it's slightly shocking to see all the ways in which Vegas works against you, but one of the most visibly insidious is the manner in which they foist alcohol on you.

If you're playing in a casino, you get free drinks — a drunk gambler loses more than a sober gambler. That's a fact. When a guy plies a girl with alcohol to loosen her inhibitions, it's creepy. When a casino does it, it's business. Casinos aren't the only options for drinking, though. In fact, there are tons of great places to get drunk in Vegas without stepping foot onto the gaming floor. Here are my top 10:

1. Insert Coin(s)
For years, Fremont Street was the seedier cousin of the strip. It catered to locals and gamblers who appreciated the old-school charm of non-themed casinos and hookers who don't try that hard. That's all changed. East Fremont is at the very beginning of a building boom — don't be surprised if it becomes a magnet for Vegas travelers in years to come. Insert Coin(s) is a harbinger of that boom. It's like a less commercial Dave & Busters with video game systems everywhere. Choose from a massive library of games as you get your drink on here, and no, you won't be paying with quarters. The drinks aren't all that inventive, but for a fun night without flashing neon assaulting your retinas, Insert Coin(s) should be at the top of your list. 512 Fremont Street, 702-477-2525, insertcoinslv.com

2. Vesper
GM Christopher Hopkins says that the mixologists at The Cosmopolitan set out to create the largest handcrafted cocktail program in Vegas. Nearly two years after the property opened, it's clear that they've succeeded with flying colors. The Cosmo is the latest hotel to go up on the strip and instead of going with some cheesy theme, they went for cool. Vesper is right off the lobby and it wouldn't be out of place in San Francisco. The left side of the menu is filled with classics like the Ramos Gin Fizz and the namesake Vesper, but on the right side, you'll see the bar's playful take on those stalwarts with a modern spin. For instance, the Moscow Mule gets updated into the “I'll Have Another” with Jim Beam Honey Tea whiskey, apricot liqueur, ginger beer, lemon juice and orange bitters. You'll probably have more than just another. 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702-698-7000

3. Sage
At the ARIA in CityCenter, chef Shawn McClain has brought his James Beard Award-winning skills from Chicago to Vegas, and the result is Sage. The whole menu maintains the elegance that McClain brought to his former Chicago restaurant Spring, including the cocktail menu. From the barrel-aged “Empire State” with small-batch Hudson rye and a root liqueur that gives it root beer-esque top notes to the gin-based “Pink Lemonade” served through an absinthe balancier, it's abundantly clear that the drinks are as well-constructed as the food. 3730 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 877-230-2742, arialasvegas.com

4. Downtown Cocktail Room
The Downtown Cocktail Room is about as un-Vegas as you can get. The dark, sexy lounge features an extensive cocktail list that's constantly changing. Now in its 21st edition, you can catch a really enticing list of original drinks, organized by glassware and ranked by level of complexity. Don't sleep on the classics, though. There's even a strong absinthe list if you're looking to expand your mind a bit. 111 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-880-3696, thedowntownlv.com

5. The Wine Cellar Tasting Room at the Rio
A little bit of Napa is hidden underneath the casino at the Rio. It sounds crazy, but there's $7 million worth of wine in a private vault, and even more out in the open. The oldest bottle in the collection is an 1855 Château d'Yquem valued somewhere between $70,000 and $100,000. That's a lot of poker chips. Wine Manager Hung Nguyen watches over more than 10,000 bottles here and he'd be happy to set up a tasting for you – for a price, of course. Based on the stories he'll tell you, it's clear that Hung will do just about anything for a price. Even if that includes dancing on the bar for Benjamins. 3700 West Flamingo Road, 702-777-7962, riolasvegas.com

6. HYDE
If you just know HYDE as the club you couldn't get into at Bellagio, then you've never stopped in for Happy Hour. As it turns out, you can just walk right in and get one of the best views of the famous Bellagio Fountains all for the price of a drink. Come on over around six, order up a cocktail and hang out on the patio. If you're a big baller, go for the table with The Button. What's The Button? It's the one that controls the fountains and, for $250,000, you can press it as many times as you want. So far, though, nobody has ponied up the cash. Hard to blame them. 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702-693-8700, hydebellagio.com

7. Tetsu
The ARIA scored big when they lured sushi master Masa Takayama (of NYC's MASA fame) to Vegas. Not only does he have an outpost of his legendary Bar Masa here, he also has Tetsu: a teppan grill that's all quality without the worthless Benihana show. Along with your wagyu, call over Melissa Bremner, the resident sake sommelier, to arrange for sake pairings with each course. As you sip on your junmai ginjo, you'll completely forget that you just lost a mortgage payment playing Casino War. 3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 866-359-7757

8. Payard
François Payard is known for his pastries, but his bistro in Caesar's Palace is serving something you won't find anywhere else in Vegas: wine cocktails. If you're liquor-averse, this is the place to be for twists on classic cocktails with the mighty grape filling in for the usual grain. You can get a wine mojito, a wine screwdriver, and if you like your drinks to make a dent in your wallet, check out the $50 Grandiose. It's a Robin Leach wet dream: champagne and caviar with white truffle oil and gold flakes. It may not sound great on paper, but it's better than drinking a glass of water with a $50 bill in it. 3570 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-731-7110, payard.com

9. Lady Silvia
Can a bar exist in Vegas without any signs or advertising? Yep. Lady Silvia is the proof. It's a downtown speakeasy with pinxtos on the menu and a full range of libations for your drinking pleasure. The inside looks like an old library and from the moment you step in, it's obvious that this is a place for locals. The best part? It's one of the few places in Vegas that's smoke-free. 900 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702-300-1007, theladysilvia.com

10. Public House
There's only one reason to go to Public House in the Venetian: beer. Opened barely a year ago, this is definitely the place for hopheads. The biggest draw is Russell Gardner, one of six certified cicerones in Vegas. In case you were wondering, the cicerone is beer's equivalent to the sommelier. Call Russell over and he and his handlebar mustache will guide you towards a brew to match your meal. With around 250 beers available every night, you're bound to find something that hits the spot. 3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-407-5310, publichouselv.com

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