New Vegas Bars ; Hotels for Vegas Loving Hipsters ; Vegas Dresses Up for the Holidays

alibi bar
New Vegas bars on the block
by Miranda Boyd
www.blog.vegas.com

Las Vegas is constantly growing and changing. And the bar is always being raised. Usually that’s just a figure of speech that probably comes from sports or something. But in Vegas, it means new bars pop up that make everyone take notice. Two of the newest on the Las Vegas Strip are Alibi at Aria and 3535 at The LINQ Hotel and Casino. You won’t want to miss the boat on these bars. Their master mixologists mix everything but metaphors — clearly that’s our job. Here’s what makes these bars so great:

Alibi

Aria has always felt like a sexy little secret slightly tucked away from the Strip. It’s sleek, smooth and full of its own brand of foot traffic. Now, thanks to Alibi and its management agency Light Group, Aria’s got openness to add to the swagger. While City Bar — the bar that occupied the space before Alibi — always felt like a getaway inside a getaway, Alibi brings the action front and center to very clearly capitalize on the name.
Wherever you sit inside you can be seen. The walls are open to the table games and the walkways. Yet the two entrances still give an air of exclusivity. It’s the kind of place where you can sit in peace or snack with a group, all while making your presence known. You’re there. You’re out. And the world around you will envy. But even as flowing as the space is, the drinks at Alibi will make you forget about everything outside your mouth.
The Light Groups’ Lead Mixologist Michael Monrreal has created a cocktail menu that elevates Aria toward the top of the Vegas cocktail scene. The tastes don’t rely on gimmicks or crazy ingredients; they just meld together to form flavors so pristine you’d think they were mixed by machines for mass production. If you’re the type that likes slight flaws in your products to prove they were hand crafted, these aren’t the drinks for you. But if you appreciate human perfection, the cocktails at Alibi will certainly gain your praise.

Rosemary Amaretti — a cocktail like grandma used to make, if your grandma was a master mixologist. Floral, fruity and fully fantastic, this drink is forever a new favorite. You can even eat the flowers if you really wanted to — but we’ve been assured they just taste like flowers.

Lonsdale (Alibi version) — Sweet in all the right ways with an intriguing hint of savory Thai basil and cardamom honey. The apple slice reminds you that what you’re drinking is freshly made and meant to be enjoyed.

Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed — Coffee, coffee, coffee! Real coffee beans and an orange slice float about this decedent arrangement of coffee, rye and bitters. There’s lots of caffeine, just the right amount of kick and plenty of flavor to wake you up and keep you drinking for hours.
Alibi features an extensive list of signature cocktails as well as champagne wishes and a succulent small plate menu. The $18 cocktail price may seem steep, but for the ambiance, and especially the taste, it’s worth it.

3535 Bar at the LINQ.

The LINQ Hotel and Casino is trying many new things for a Strip hotel. They know their demographics and they understand those customers’ wants. From board games in the room to interactive TVs, they’re clearly focused on the future and how to find its niche. And their hallmark bar, 3535 (named after the address of the hotel), is no exception. This bar knows its identity, is proud of its contribution and is poised to progress and impress.

The upbeat and ultra hip space features bar seating with integrated phone chargers, lounge areas and semi-private booths set into alcoves in one wall. The combination of design elements and multiple experiences, as well as table games and a DJ, show how 3535 is seeking both diversity and repeat business. Whether you’re gambling, dancing, relaxing, snuggling in a booth or determined to try everything in the bar, 3535 will let you revel in your night then try something different tomorrow. And that concept is also echoed in their primary focus — infusions.

LINQ beverage manager Thomas McNally, LINQ beverage director Jay Lattimer, and the whole staff at 3535 have created a line of 35 custom infusions that range from intriguing to irresistible. From the sweet tartness of berries to the earthy depth of sage, custom infusions are bringing new possibilities to the world of cocktails, and 3535 is proving just how complex and consuming they can be. By infusing premium liquors in house, the bartenders can craft tastes that blend far better than pre-made flavored spirits ever will. They can adjust, they can tinker and they will ensure your experience is always as special as you’ll feel.

Apple Cider Old Fashioned — Old is new again with the classic flavors you thought you knew. Apple-cinnamon infused bourbon takes you all the way home, and a rum soaked cherry turns your rec room into something naughtier.

Wat-a-Pear — For the fruit fanatic, watermelon and rosemary infused vodka combine with pear to prove alcohol can be just as refreshing as a juice drink. Like a summer day in a glass, it’ll create a memory you’ll look back to on holiday barbeques and Little League games for years to come.

Sushitini– Spice and liquid can play together like rice and nori. The wasabi will tickle your tongue and the smoothness will tantalize your taste for adventure. It’s like drinking sushi, minus the MSG and potential food poisoning.

3535 Bar also features half-priced samplings of their infusion based cocktails as well as custom flights. And if cocktails aren’t your thing, they also have wine on tap and plenty of beer. New, hip and sure to stick around, 3535 is a driving force for The LINQ.

Everywhere in Las Vegas new bars are taking our infatuation with all things alcohol to new heights. From complex blends to careful infusions, and constant evolutions of both, Alibi and 3535 are proving Las Vegas has so much more to offer the cocktail fan than $2 worth of cheap booze in a $20 novelty cup. We’re a city of innovation and expression — everything you can find at these outstanding new Las Vegas bars.

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cosmo

The best hotels in Vegas for: Hipsters
by Renee LiButti
www.blog.vegas.com

So you’re coming to Vegas. You’ll need a room. Obviously. But which hotel is most appropriate for you?
It’s just like that old saying: different strokes for different folks. Different people have different ways of doing things…and that includes experiencing Vegas.

To help you book your ideal accommodations, we’re kicking off a series of blogs with hotel suggestions to suit the needs, desires and even wallets of different personality types.
To begin, we’ll focus on the trendiest of visitors, the hipsters – as they usually clamor to be first.

If you’re someone who’s conversant with what’s “in” (whether that’s architecture, design, food, entertainment or shopping), you’ll want your Vegas stay to be as cool as possible. Of course, you’re also social, so you’ll crave plenty of options when it comes to partying and having fun with friends. Here are five hotels sure to fit your lifestyle.

The Cosmopolitan

When The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened its doors in December 2010, it was “the” place to be. Today, the resort is still that…and much more. The Cosmopolitan has always had an ambitious attitude when it comes to offering unique art installations and innovative technology along with restaurants, bars and other amenities that deliver one-of-a-kind experiences. From The Chandelier, a three-story cocktail haven formed from flowing beaded curtains, to Vesper Bar, which has a ceiling covered in a metal mesh meant to resemble a cloud, the nightlife venues ooze sophistication. And the lobby is like a computer-generated dream world thanks to eight giant columns that are wrapped with mirrors and LCD screens. There’s even cool graffiti art on the walls of the parking garage. Plus, The Cosmopolitan is home to Marquee Nightclub, Rose. Rabbit. Lie., The Chelsea concert venue, Holsteins for specialty burgers, the sexy steakhouse STK and, well, surely you’ve gotten the point by now…the list goes on and on and on.

The Cromwell

Almost every hotel in Vegas has a pool club as well as a nightclub, but a combination of both on a rooftop at the heart of the Strip…now that can only be found at The Cromwell, courtesy of Victor Drai. Along with Drai’s Beach Club and Drai’s Nightclub overhead, there’s also Drai’s After Hours club below ground – so if you stay here, at least in summertime, you can literally party around the clock. Opened this year in May, The Cromwell is spanking new…and by spanking we mean there are super sexy décor elements, like corset-laced elevators. And the rooms here are like no others in town. Dimly lit, they evoke a chic Parisian vibe. Each one features hardwood flooring, textured wallpaper and an ornately framed, full-length mirror that (in the right lighting) offers a peek into and out of the shower. Women will fall in love with the Hollywood-lit vanity, which comes with a hair straightener. Another delight at The Cromwell is Giada, the first restaurant by chef, author and Food Network television personality Giada De Laurentiis. Her Italy-meets-California cuisine is original and tastes fabulous. Just be sure you save room for her lemon ricotta cookies.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

For a rockin’ good time, there’s always the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Built in 1995, this may have been the first “hip” hotel in Vegas, and it’s still as happening as ever. With a rep for being edgy and pushing the envelope, Hard Rock Hotel has a peerless concert venue (The Joint) and a sleek nightclub (Body English). Its collection of restaurants and bars allows you to experience food and drinks in truly unique ways. Take Culinary Dropout. Created by restaurateur Sam Fox, this eatery has a rebellious attitude. Not only is the staff uniform-free, but the relaxed ambiance makes for a funky hangout where you can chow down on fried chicken and biscuits or pretzel bites dunked in provolone fondue. Then there’s The Ainsworth, which blends a nightclub vibe (i.e., bottle service and high-end cocktails like the Blind Stud) with sports viewing. Last but not least, Vegas’ daylife scene owes a lot to the Hard Rock Hotel. Launched in 2004, Rehab was among the city’s first pool parties and this unbelievably raucous weekend event is still considered a must-go for anyone seeking fun in the sun.

Monte Carlo and HOTEL32

Located on the 32nd floor of the Monte Carlo, HOTEL32 offers a boutique hotel experience within a megaresort as well as unforgettable views of the Strip. Every guest is cared for like a celebrity. When you set foot on the premises, a “personal suite assistant” will be waiting to escort you to your room via a private elevator. (Good riddance to waiting in line at the front desk!) In addition, your personal suite assistant will stock the fridge to your request, make all of your reservations and basically attend to your every whim (ahem, within reason). At HOTEL32, you’ll be able to enjoy cocktails and free nibbles throughout the day at the private LOUNGE32. The pampering and luxurious accommodations aren’t the only things to take advantage of at Monte Carlo. On the ground floor, you can continue your debauchery with a succulent cut of beef at Brand Steakhouse. Or there’s always something going on in the Plaza, the resort’s Las Vegas Boulevard-facing pedestrian promenade. Down tequila shots at Diablo’s Cantina or sip “spiked” ice tea at Double Barrel Roadhouse. Feeling health-conscious? A new hour-long yoga class (free to hotel guests) is being held out here every Saturday

SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Another fashionable new Vegas resort is SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. It debuted in late August at the north end of the Strip. Housed in the bones of the Sahara Hotel & Casino (originally built in 1952, this was a hip property during its prime, hosting the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and the Rat Pack), SLS Las Vegas is the brainchild of Sam Nazarian. A visionary at the helm of the hospitality company SBE, Nazarian has also launched many of Southern California’s hottest clubs and restaurants – making him a hipster too. As you would expect, the nightlife at SLS Las Vegas is stellar. There are three different venues to party at: Foxtail, LiFE and The Sayers Club (you never know who might step onstage). This spring, the daylife will finally be exposed (Beach LiFE and Foxtail Pool Club), and it’s sure to sizzle. At SLS Las Vegas you’ll also discover seven uber-trendy shops created by retail guru Fred Segal as well as a trendsetting collection of restaurants including Bazaar Meat by José Andrés (where you can sit down at a raw meat bar), Katsuya by Starck, Umami Burger, The Griddle Café and Cleo. All of these things are offered in an atmosphere full of whimsy and wonder. You’ll spot playful monkeys on SLS Las Vegas’ logo and in artwork throughout the property. The sculpture “Saam by Starck” by Philippe Starck welcomes guests at the main entrance. Intent on bringing new things to the Vegas market, SLS Las Vegas is sure to inspire you with its fresh experiences and outlook.

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magical forest

Vegas gets its tinsel on with holiday decorations and celebrations
by Jennifer Whitehair
www.blog.vegas.com

We may be on the naughty list (Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right Santa?), but that doesn’t mean Sin City doesn’t know how to celebrate the holidays. We’ve got crazy Christmas trees, miles of holiday lights, ice skating rinks, an army of Santas and snow! There’s no way to escape the holiday spirit when you visit Vegas in December.
Lights

With our miles and miles and miles of neon and sparkly lights, Vegas is ready to celebrate the holidays year-round. But that doesn’t mean we can’t turn the spectrometer up to 11 when December rolls around.

Longtime Vegas favorite Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens has rolled out their holiday display covering their cactus gardens in lights and humorous holiday inflatables. Kudos for the team at the garden who every year brave those thorns to create the free amazing display. Be prepared for crowds as the display is a major locals favorite, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of chocolate to buy as well as visits from Santa (Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 19) and performances by local choirs (6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday).

If you are visiting Las Vegas (and have a car), Glittering Lights is a holiday lights extravaganza worth the trip. Located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip), Glittering Lights features 2.5 miles of lights in a custom display that you drive through. (Hey, we pioneered driver-thru weddings in Vegas, so this is right up our alley.) Tickets are $20 a car and the display is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday they are open from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

Each year the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village ups the wattage and offerings to create a holiday experience like no other. Plus this venerable local holiday tradition is also the largest fundraiser for Opportunity Village, which helps local residents with learning disabilities. This year features more than 3 million lights, Boris the Elf’s 3-D Experience, Rudolph’s Raceway, Magical Midway, Rod’s Mini-Golf, Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel, Avalanche Slide and the always popular Forest Express Passenger Train. And there are plenty of chances to get a picture with Santa. The Magical Forest is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for children. Passes to enjoy unlimited rides and attraction access are $20 for adults and $18 for children.

Trees

Look out Rockefeller Center, Vegas has not one but three towering Christmas trees (plus a plethora of smaller ones) to get you into the holiday spirit. In a town that has elevated artificial fantasy to an art form, it’s no surprise that our first tree is a digital wonder. The Venetian has a towering 65-foot LED Christmas tree. More electronic extravaganza than traditional Douglas fir, The Venetian’s tree creates a stunning light display every evening worthy of a Vine video. Tonight, the Bellagio Conservatory lights its tree as part of the unveiling of the Conservatory’s winter decorations. The natural tree (usually a white fir) boasts more than 7,000 lights and 2,500 ornaments and is just part of the holiday extravaganza at the Conservatory. In downtown Las Vegas, Santa will help light the the 50-foot tree at the Fremont Street Experience on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. A week later on Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. Rabbi Shea Harlig will be on hand to lead the ceremony to light the Grand Menorah.

Snow
The average temperature in Vegas during December may be 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have snow. We just have to truck it in. On the Las Vegas Strip, The LINQ Promenade rolls out the white carpet (of snow) with Winter PARQ on Friday. Located behind the High Roller observation wheel, Winter PARQ will feature a 30-foot-tall snow-covered tubing hill. The hill will be open Monday through Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 2 to 10 p.m. Rides are $5 each or you can score an all-day pass for $20.
At The LINQ Promenade real snow (machine made) will fall every half hour in the evening beginning Dec. 8. There will also be holiday decorations and carolers. Our recommendation: get some hot chocolate from Ghiradelli Chocolates and a holiday cupcake or cookie from Sprinkles while you are there.
Head to downtown Las Vegas if you want your snow mixed with local holiday cheer and check out Winter Wonderland next to the Zappos.com pop-up store. There’s a sledding hill, snow play area, ice skating, Christmas tree lot, 50-foot Christmas tree, light show, food trucks and a lounge area with holiday videos projected on the wall. Winter Wonderland comes the closest to creating the feel of a small-town holiday fair. Winter Wonderland is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Prices vary from $5 to $10 for the various attractions.

Skating

As much as we would love to see the Bellagio Fountains freeze over to create the greatest sculptural ice rink in the world, the rules of science plus the lack of deep freeze temperatures in Vegas prevent this dream from coming true. Until then, we’ll enjoy two ice skating rinks at resorts on either side of the iconic fountains.

At The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Ice Rink at their Boulevard Pool (no they didn’t freeze the pool, they placed the rink over it) offers skaters a great view of the Las Vegas Strip. Afterwards relax on Adirondack chairs and enjoy a Campfire Delight – drink that is. On Thursdays you can break out the legwarmers for Throwback Thursdays and skate to music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The rink is open from 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. You can skate all day for $15. Skate rentals are $5 per person.

At Caesars Palace you can strap on your skates and glide across the ice at Caesars Chalet Holiday Ice Rink while catching glimpses of the resort’s iconic fountains – can you say selfie? There’s plenty of holiday drinks and food, but we suggest heading over to Serendipty 3 after skating and grabbing a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.

Santa

It’s no Vegas vacation for Santa. The big guy makes appearances at numerous holiday events including the aforementioned Magical Forest, Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory and Winter Wonderland, but that’s not all.

At Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium, Santa will be taking pictures and listening to children’s last-minute gift requests on select dates in December. Children will get a photo with Mr. Claus and a candy cane with their admission ($18 for adults, $12 for children ages 5 to 12). Even better, stick around until 4 p.m. and you’ll get a great photo op when Santa takes a quick dive in the aquarium to wish happy holidays to all of his aquatic friends.

Santa goes all Hollywood at the Fashion Show Las Vegas. The mall has partnered with DreamWorks to create a 2,000-square-foot interactive attraction. Guests will go on a holiday adventure with Shrek and Donkey as they journey to the North Pole to meet Santa. Bonus No. 1, the attraction is free. Bonus No. 2, you can make a reservation so you are not stuck waiting in line to see Santa. Bonus No. 3, the adventure includes a picture with Santa. The attraction is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Singing

There’s nothing quite as good as a few carols to get you in the holiday spirit. But why subject yourself to the muzak playing in the mall or off-key warbling in the shower. In Vegas, top shows roll out the holiday tunes from Motown to Elvis.

From Dec. 12 through Dec. 24, the vocal stars of Human Nature plus special guest Robin Meade perform the special show “Christmas, Motown and More” featuring songs like “Please Come Home for Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Silent Night – O Holy Night” and “Winter Wonderland” and Mowtown classics “My Girl” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

At “Legends in Concert” celebrity impersonators provide a star-studded holiday singing “Jingle Bell Rock,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Santa Baby,” “Jingle Bells” and more. Our favorite, Bill Cherry as Elvis singing “Blue Christmas.”

Terry Fator brings the holiday laughs, celebrity impressions and amazing singing when he and his loveable puppets present “A Country Christmas” now through Dec. 25. This year’s show follows Walter T. Airdale as he celebrates Christmas in Vegas with Fator, Winston the Turtle, Emma Taylor and many other favorite characters.

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