Las Vegas has a vast array of indulgences someone can experience to get their body heat rising, especially in the dog days of summer. When the temps on the Las Vegas Strip hit in excess of 110-degrees, the best way to cool down while still experience that Vegas, Baby, Vegas vibe is by finding one of (or several of) Sin City's best watering holes. As a former Las Vegas resident, here are a few of my timeless favorites.
Minus5 Ice Bar (two locations)
At Minus5 Ice Bar everything but the ceiling and floor is made of ice. The walls, benches, bar, sculptures and even the glasses guests drink from. Created in New Zealand, Minus5 is a unique ice-themed experience that celebrates ice as art all within in the beauty of a -5° Celsius (23° Fahrenheit) ice environment. It's not a bar you want to claim a spot and call home for the night, though many a bare-chested bachelor party attendee has tried. It's really an attraction, with tasty cocktails - and for the high-roller - bottles of Cristal or Dom. For the guy looking to pop the question in style, ask for "Monica." It's a vodka-martini that comes complete with a diamond engagement ring frozen into the rim of the glass. The price? $10,000. Who says money can't buy love?
Located near the resort's east entrance, this three-tiered bar is nearly as visually stunning as the cocktails are delicious. Each level provides a different cocktail-ing experience. The first floor is the gathering place, serving as one of the casino bars, with tons of energy and attitude (in the good way). Once your group arrives, head to the second floor where the tone is dialed down and the cocktails are cranked up. Looking to get lucky? Head upstairs with your special someone for a more intimate experience, where the lights are low and the service is top-notch. And be sure to try The Verbena, for a mouth sensation you won't soon forget.
If you like a beer list that goes beyond Bud Light, Miller Light and Corona - this is a must try. About five miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Freakin' Frog is billed as Vegas' first craft beer bar, and one of the largest in the U.S. with roughly 1,200 beer selections. Owner Adam Carmer doesn't just stock up on beer for the sake of having a huge list, he brings in the good stuff. Ask for a pull from one of his firkins - traditional European cask ale fermented in wooden vessels (we typically use metal in the U.S.). Wait - you also like whisky? Perfect. Head upstairs to the Whisky Attic which boasts more than 1,000 different types of whisky from around the world (including Carmer's own, Freakin' Lighting). Just be sure to call ahead as tours of the Whisky Attic are by reservation only.
Established in 2009, Herbs & Rye grew an immediate cult-like following thanks to owner Nectaly Mendoza being fully committed to creating cocktails in the classic style. This means no short cuts, fresh-squeezed juices, quality spirits, utilizing house-made shrubs, bitters and more. Step out of your vodka-and-Red-Bull box and order something from the menu's Golden Age section. According to the menu, this period for cocktails was a time that is just as good as it sounds, and features classics like the Manhattan, Pisco Sour and one of my favorites, the Negroni, made with a perfect blend of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. When booze-thirty strikes, feel free to order from their ample menu, offering riffs on classic bar food and heartier entrees.
When it comes to Vegas, it doesn't get more iconic than Caesars Palace. It first opened its doors in 1966, and in a town of shiny new things, has managed to stay relevant for nearly half-a-century. In continuing to reshape its image, Caesars has brought in one of the country's top barmen, the Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. More than a million dollars was poured into renovating this Vegas classic and Abou-Ganim was tasked with overseeing staff training and cocktail development. Stick with the classics, kid, and order The Chairman's Manhattan, one of Abou-Gamin's signature drinks for Lobby Bar. It's created with Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select Tennessee whiskey, and like Old Blue Eyes himself, always goes down smooth.
Located in the heart of The Shoppes at the Palazzo, Double Helix offers one of the best wines-by-the-glass list in town with more than 50 options from some of the world's best producers. A nearby VIP Reserve Room room provides a high-roller experience, offering classic vintage Bordeaux including Chateau Lafite Rothschild, as well as more rare boutique wines, like Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. When hunger strikes, Double Helix offers a limited food service from Chef Emeril Lagasse's nearby Table 10 restaurant. The adjacent wine shop offers around 300 different varietals for sale, including rare vintages from around the world. Perfect for a mid-flight beverage on the way home.