Up until last year it wasn’t awesome being a beer drinker in Vegas. The beer selection in Las Vegas was held to your typical American macro brews Bud, Coors and Miller. Sure you could find some bars and restaurants with a few different beers but there weren’t many. It’s strange to think that a town famous for its fine dining and great cocktail rooms wouldn’t treat beer with the same reverence. Thankfully that has changed and the craft beer revolution has hit Las Vegas!
By definition craft beer are small, independent and traditional beer makers. I prefer craft beers because I like beers with a more robust flavor. The traditional American beers aren’t the most flavorful or interesting tasting beers. Craft beers are usually more expensive so it makes sense why a casino wouldn’t carry them but even that’s changing with some casinos offering Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada, the number 1 and 2 craft beer companies in America, at the tables and slot machines. On the casino floor I will always opt for a Sierra Nevada if Nevada if available.
Summertime is near and I am excited to finish my no carb diet so that I can be swimsuit ready for insane Las Vegas pool parties. The pool parties are an essential part of Las Vegas partying from Memorial to Labor Day weekend every summer. Even if you don’t like DJ’s and electronic music, you still need to go at least once. Let me tell you that I go every year, and every year I am amazed at the people that prance through the doors ready for anything. There are all types at these parties. The women are usually so buffed that you mistake them for men, look like they just stepped off the stripper pole or you recognize them as the plane Jane from next door. The men also look as if they work out to a fault where they have no necks and their arms extend directly from their heads, or the frat boys from your college, or a total nerd rolling in the dough to be able to afford a cabana right next to the DJ.
One of the great things about Las Vegas is that it’s always changing. The 80′s and 90′s brought themed hotels and casinos while the city tried to cater to families. More recently hotels have shunned the themes in favor of more modern designs where they depend on what’s inside the casino to wow us. There are hotel-casinos, like the Cosmopolitan, which rarely mention the fact that they have gaming and emphasize the nightclubs and fine dining in their marketing. All of this just makes Las Vegas a more diverse town and that’s great. Somewhere between the theming and de-theming of the hotels Las Vegas became a town for foodies. The finest chefs across the world have restaurants in Las Vegas.
Variety is the spice of life whether you have wide interests and even when you focus on a niche. My niche as a foodie is steak. I’ve been to almost every steakhouse on the Vegas strip and I continue to explore different steakhouses when they open or go back to the few steakhouses that have been around for years that I haven’t had a chance to visit.
Last year, the MGM Grand cornered off a huge section of tables, took away those fluffy lions, and shut the doors to Studio 54. A night at Studio 54 was always a blast and I think the name alone gave me the feeling that I was in a “special” club reminiscent of the days in 1977-1981 in New York City. Being a fan of amazing clubs and having visited many of them throughout the US and Europe, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic. I have spent several vacations in Ibiza, Spain and South Beach in Miami to watch the sun come up. But, now I don’t have to go so far to experience the newest and grandest nightclub in history opening its doors April 2013 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The name is not as cool as Studio 54, but Hakkasan Night Club is supposed to be way more than just a place to shake your moneymaker.
I just returned from a crazy trip to Austin, Texas for what people in the interactive, music, and film industry should rename adult spring break. This South by Southwest conference has become so huge that there is not a lot of work getting done but a lot of network “partying” being accomplished instead. My liver told me it only felt this way in one other city – LAS VEGAS. The after-effect of the conference feels a lot like a few days in Sin City! So, it is only fitting that SXSW bring the conference to the west and take residency in Las Vegas.
SXSW V2 is the newest addition to the ever-growing SXSW family. This conference is going to be held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel from August 11-August 14, 2013. The conference is a condensed version of its counterpart in Austin, which lasts a full 10 days! But, if you are like most people, 2 days and nights in Las Vegas can feel like 2 weeks in another city (in a great way).
Just about anyone can crack open a beer or throw together a Jack n Coke but creating a cocktail is not so simple. A cocktail is a little more complex. By definition a cocktail an alcoholic mixed drink that contains three or more ingredients with at least one of those ingredients being a spirit. You can get a drink at any bar but you can’t always find a cocktail. Creating a cocktail is an art – so much so that bartenders that make cocktails are often referred to as mixologists. Call the cocktail creator what you want but if they can turn a drink into more of an experience then a drink you have someone and something special.
Over the past few years downtown Vegas has undergone a facelift. It’s no longer “Old Vegas” even if it is old and in Las Vegas. Old Vegas was a place to go for a cheap time in Las Vegas and it still is in part. The recent facelift downtown has not only yielded cleaner and more modern casinos but its also added a slew of new bars and restaurants. There’s even a website, fremontstreetbars.com, to keep track of all of the new bar activity in downtown Vegas. Many of the new bars don’t just serve drinks, they cater to the cocktailer in all of us. Here are some of the best places to cocktail around Downtown Vegas.
The pool scene in Las Vegas has changed a lot over the past few years. During the week the pools in Vegas may be a nice place to relax and read a book while catching some rays but that changes at a lot of hotels the weekend pool parties take over. While a few heated pools are open all winter long most of them close. The closed pools in Vegas are re-opening all throughout March with the MGM Grand pool having been the first to re-open for the season on February 22. Pool parties are a whole other story. Las Vegas pool parties come in two varieties – Big and Bigger. This is Vegas after all.
Normal weekend afternoons at many of the major resort pools have shunned RnR for DJ’s. Chances are that you won’t be able to make it through your book with the music cranked up to 10. There are fun, yet still affordable pool parties like at Planet Hollywood and Flamingo which both feature anonymous DJ’s (more on this in a second) spinning your favorite current party tunes.
I can feel it is March because I have that college basketball itch! My beloved University of Arizona Wildcats are in the Pac 12 and the tournament is moving from the Los Angeles, Staples Center and relocating to the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The viewership of the tournament had declined in the last couple of years (which is obviously the reason I was able to get a seat in the front row at Staples last year) and the forces that be, believe moving the Pac 12 tournament to Las Vegas will attract more attention. I think they are right! This is yet another good reason to visit Las Vegas in March (as if you needed another reason). What better appetizer for College Basketball March madness than with PAC 12 tournament basketball.
If you don’t feel like dealing with the hustle and bustle of the huge, somewhat over-played restaurants and bars that everyone goes to when they visit Las Vegas, then I have some great suggestions for you. I have had the pleasure of frequenting a few bars and restaurants that fly under the radar in Las Vegas and I am going to give you a peak into my secret stash.
Firefly is a true favorite restaurant amongst Las Vegas locals. Not to mention the fact that it is a tapas restaurant, which is perhaps the greatest invention ever (you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that or a lot of that). What could be better? A dessert sampler!
Some people call “The Mob” the founding fathers of Las Vegas. They were gangsters, hoodlums and thieves that migrated to Las Vegas from all over the country. Before Las Vegas became big business run by corporations the mob ran this town. From the early 1950′s through the 1980′s you could find the mob running the best casinos on the Vegas strip.
Even though the mob helped make Las Vegas the tourist destination it is today it wasn’t without it’s flaws. The mob was always known for being a major part of prostitution, drug dealing and loan sharking. Mobsters were often ruthless businessman who withheld tax money that should have gone to the Government to build schools, hospitals and roads. However, there were a small portion of the mob that changed themselves for the better to become model citizens and respectable businessmen.