Toast to a Good Time at Las Vegas' 10 Best Bars

Photo courtesy of http://www.herbsandrye.com/
Photo courtesy of Peppermill
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

Over the last few years, Las Vegas' bar scene has been growing, especially in the trendy East Fremont area in Downtown Las Vegas. Visitors and locals have rediscovered the Las Vegas bar scene (quieter than nightclubs) where guests can enjoy conversations, great drinks and memorable atmosphere.

The best Las Vegas bars have always included a casino lounge or two, both because the drinks are good and the people watching is very interesting. Who knows who you might see? At The Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, this experience has been transformed by being in an actual three level chandelier. You may even miss some people watching while you’re gazing at its crystal beads.

Fabulous views of the Strip are a feature of several bars both on and off the Strip. Mandarin Bar, situated on the 23rd floor of the sophisticated Mandarin Oriental, is an example. Here you can sip on something strong and delicious, all while taking in a fantastic view of the Las Vegas Strip.

Downtown has a wide range of bars, many trying out new and innovative things while a few are well-known for sticking to their original atmosphere, like Atomic Liquors. The one constant at these bars is an emphasis on great drinks, no matter what the decor looks like.

Whatever you're looking for, check out our list for the top bars in Las Vegas.

10. Herbs & Rye Bar
Photo courtesy of http://www.herbsandrye.com/

Just a short drive west of the Las Vegas Strip, Herbs & Rye attracts bar aficionados from all over the city. Its dark, speakeasy-like atmosphere sets exactly the right tone for a menu full of delicious creations that go down a little too smoothly. The menu is arranged by era, so if you'd like some liquid history, check out the offerings from the Gothic Age (1776-1865) and try the famous Pimms Cup, made from a recipe that's still a secret to this day. Other eras include the Golden Age and Old School Age, Prohibition, Years of Reform, Rat Pack Era and the Tiki Boom. If you can't find a cocktail you like here, you might have to stop drinking.

9. The Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill
Photo courtesy of Peppermill

If you're bored with Sin City's oh-so-trendy lounges and bars, you'll enjoy the comfy, retro feel of the Fireside Lounge. Sink into a cozy booth and nurse a mai tai or other nostalgic beverage served to you by a waitress in a dress slit to mid-thigh. Mirrors lining the walls reflect the glow of the bubbling fire pit, sure to inspire romance. Performances from Vegas legends are replayed on flat-screens dotted around the room, enhancing the yesteryear ambiance. Consistently voted one of the best date spots in Vegas, this lounge is definitely a place where you can set the mood. Even if you're not on a date, you'll still appreciate the groovy vibe at the Fireside, which comes complete with one of the coolest fire pits in town.

8. Downtown Cocktail Room
Photo courtesy of Downtown Cocktail Room

This hip, intimate Las Vegas lounge is one of the city's best-kept secrets. Dim lighting, cozy leather seating, minimalist art and eclectic music create a seductively mysterious ambiance, and the diverse clientele are mostly locals seeking a laid-back evening away from the Vegas "scene." The seasonal menu features delectable punch bowls and creative cocktails with distinctive flavor profiles that have customers raving. In addition to the specialty cocktails, the menu also includes Absinthe, in case you'd like to try the today's version of the famous drink. Live DJs supply the entertainment nightly from Tuesday through Saturday, and a small selection of food will give you something to nibble on.

7. Frankie's Tiki Room
Photo courtesy of Studio West Photography

The world's only 24-hour tiki bar, Frankie's Tiki Room is a must for rum fanatics, as it houses more than 150 premium rums. A unique combination of South Seas exotica and modern primitivism with a hint of Vegas kitsch, the bar's interior was built by Bamboo Ben, the world's foremost tiki bar designer and the grandson of Eli Hedley (who created the decor at Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room). While the atmosphere is fun (especially for the desert), Frankie's Original Tiki Drinks are what truly keep guests coming back for more. Each drink is clearly labeled so people know how strong they are. Be sure to pay attention to how many skulls a concoction has--some of these flavorful creations aren't intended for lightweights!

6. Gold Spike
Photo courtesy of Gold Spike Las Vegas

The Gold Spike was once a small casino hotel, but the casino is gone now. It was replaced with a "Living Room" full of comfortable seating, games like giant Connect Four and Cornhole, plus a backyard that comes complete with a travel trailer (and more games). The bar is still there, however, and it features reasonably priced drinks that include beer, wine, and mixed drinks. A cafe is also available, if you're hungry after all that game playing. Open 24/7, Gold Spike is a new kind of Vegas bar: no smoking, free WiFi and live entertainment on the weekends. It's appearance on MTV's "Real World" brought it national attention, and it continues to be a popular spot.

5. The Chandelier
Photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Not surprisingly, one of the city's most striking bars is found in one of the city's most talked about resorts. Conceived by renowned design and architecture firm the Rockwell Group, The Chandelier is an architectural wonder that combines more than 2 million crystal beads (the largest quantity of beads used in one installation in North America), three luxurious bars and exclusive music all within one three-story space inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Each floor houses its own unique bar experience where guests can enjoy interactive light shows along with their signature cocktails. The bottom floor offers a high-energy atmosphere that merges seamlessly with the surrounding casino floor; the heart of The Chandelier offers a more swank and sophisticated experience; and the top of The Chandelier offers a lively environment complete with festive concoctions overlooking the casino below.

4. 107 SkyLounge

Offering an experience unlike any other bar or lounge in town, 107 Skylounge is the perfect place to go when you want to impress someone special. Located on the 107th floor of the Stratosphere Tower, it boasts expansive city views that are complemented nicely by an extensive appetizer, dessert and cocktail menu. Feast on the surroundings as you dig in to such sumptuous fare as the heavenly Roasted Tomato Fondue or sip one of the lounge's signature cocktails. On a budget? Not to worry; Level 107 Lounge has a daily happy hour from 4-7 p.m. featuring half-price appetizers and 2-for-1 cocktails as well as a late-night happy hour with 2-for-1 cocktails from 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

3. Atomic Liquors
Photo courtesy of Atomic Liquors

Atomic Liquors has a fascinating history, but that's not the only reason to stop in for a drink. Inexpensive and no-frills, this is the place for a large selection of craft beers along with a well-stocked bar helmed by knowledgeable bartenders. A patio give guests front-row seating to what's happening on Fremont Street and the addition of the Atomic Kitchen has added food options. Atomic Liquors is the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas and got its name because at one time patrons could sit on the roof and watch the atomic blasts at the Test Site. The bar was closed for about a year between 2011 and 2012, and was renovated prior to opening, but only to give things a face-lift, not a complete re-do. The "dive" vibe is very much alive here, and that's on purpose.

2. Mandarin Bar
Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

Located on the 23rd floor of the non-gaming Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Mandarin Bar is one of the city's most sleek and sophisticated nightlife venues. Guests can drink up the stunning Strip views courtesy of the bar's floor-to-ceiling windows while imbibing one of its expertly crafted cocktails. In addition to a menu of creative alcoholic concoctions, the bar offers a variety of fine wines and delicious light bites, making it the perfect place to kick back and relax before or after dinner. For a light and refreshing drink, try the Tea-Tini, one of Mandarin Bar's specialty cocktails. A mix of Bulleit Bourbon, chilled Jasmine Pearl tea, apple juice, agave nectar and lemon juice, the tasty cocktail is both unique and delicious.

1. Oak & Ivy
Photo courtesy of Oak & Ivy

Oak & Ivy's menu is dedicated to craft whiskey and classic mixology, with handcrafted drinks that use the best in fresh, seasonal ingredients. This downtown bar is located in Downtown Container Park, and its distinctive drinks have garnered attention from locals, visitors and critics. The extensive drink menu includes a selection of barrel aged craft cocktails, like the Mai Tai, only with an list of ingredients that doesn't sound familiar for this drink: Rhum Clement, Coruba, Velvent Falernum, Bols Orange Curacao and Orgeat. Crafted specialty cocktails, whiskey cocktails and a large selection of American whiskeys guarantee you'll find something aged and wonderful to sip on.