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12 Vegas ‘Pre-Game’ Bars That Get the Party Started

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Congrats: You’ve figured out where you’re going to party tonight. That’s the easy part. But the best Vegas nightclubs don’t get hopping until late, and you’ve still got a crew of people to wrangle and get past the ropes.

Enter the pre-game bar: not too far from the club, a meet-up spot where your posse can toss back a few cocktails and munchies to get the evening rolling. While the Strip is full of such watering holes, only some offer the right vibe and libations to make your evening special from the jump. Read on for our picks.

Crystal-Clear Choice

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas prides itself on amazing bars throughout, but the coolest is their central three-tier Chandelier Bar, just a hop away from the Marquee entrance. Although there’s something different and interesting on every level, we recommend you start at the bottom and try the Infinite Playlist, an Old Fashioned updated with El Dorado 12-year, Amaro Meletti and ancho chai masala tea syrup, with a Luxardo cherry and orange rind. Don’t hate us if you’re wishing you could get another instead of the bottle service.

CosmoChandelierBar1

Photo Courtesy of E.C. Gladstone

Winning at Wynn

Headed to XS, Tryst or Surrender/Encore Beach Club? Grab a grouping of cozy-elegant sofas and chairs at Parasol UP (not to be confused with Parasol DOWN) on the edge of the Wynn casino floor. Kick off the evening with a round of Twisted Gran’Ma shots (Corzo Reposado Tequila and Gran Marnier Cordon Rouge in an absinthe-rinsed glass) or a signature Sinatra Smash (made with Gentleman Jack, of course). To make sure you’ll get seated, it doesn’t hurt to make a reservation here.

What’s Your Alibi?

Aria resort already boasted solid pre-game spots in the Light Group’s Gold Room and Deuce Lounge, but the new Alibi Cocktail Lounge might be the ultimate pre-party meeting place, not to mention the energetic casino bar Aria has sorely needed. The atmospheric, premium-stocked bar (try the Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed cocktail, with coffee-infused Dickel Rye) offers loads of social seating and elevated bar bites like the Bobby Baldwin sliders that FIX made famous.

Alibi Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed copy

Photo Courtesy of Alibi Cocktail Lounge at Aria

Puts the ‘Game’ in Pre-Game

Hakkasan has its own Ling-Ling Lounge, but you need to be inside the club already for that.  Instead of hitting the MGM lobby bar, meet a few steps away at the new TAP sports bar. Yes, it’s got a zillion TVs, but the vibe is more small-town roadhouse than Vegas sports book, with good beer and booze selections (try a Ketel One Crimson Lemonade, or a “Belgian Mojito” with rum and Stella Artois), and plenty of tables and booths.

TAPSportsBarMGM

Photo Courtesy of  E.C. Gladstone

Drai Day

Okay, this is one you actually might want to make a point of working into your plans: If you’re heading to Drais or the Beach Club, hit the Cromwell a little early and check out Bound near the valet entrance. Not only are the cocktail servers wearing the hottest leather uniforms you’re likely to see on the Strip, but they are serving cocktails crafted by one of the world’s best mixologists, London’s Salvatore “The Maestro” Calabrese. Set the mood with the signature Cromwell Fizz—Macallan Fine Oak Whiskey, lemon juice and orange bitters, topped with Moët Impérial Champagne—or check out one of Calabrese’s infused coffee drinks for a serious speedball that will put your vodka-RedBull to shame.

Simply Luxe Spirits

In SLS, skip the Center Bar and head to the bar at Bazaar Meat, just past the LiFE club entrance. We’re not sure which impresses us more, the sleek space or the creative drinks—like the Salt Air Margarita and the Leatherette (leather-aged sherry, rye and brandy). Want to go classic? Try Jose Andres’ famous Gin Tonic.

The Bazaar - Ultimate Gin & Tonic Deconstructed

Photo Courtesy of Bazaar Meat at SLS Las Vegas

Before the Buddha

Need to rally the troops before TAO?  Convene at “ultra-dive” Rockhouse (from the TAO entrance, just outside the Grand Canal Shoppes’ front doors, make a  right), for bar food and pool tables; Cañonita, near the self-parking entrance, if your group includes tequila fans; or if something more elegant is called for, cross the casino floor to the modern lounge at star chef Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie—worth the trip.

Stacks and Steaks

In the Mirage, STACK is the usual choice to pre-game, and a fine one—but if you want to save a few steps from 1OAK (or the valet), Heritage Steaks cool bar offers cocktails like the R&R (Strawberry & pink peppercorn-infused rum, Brachetto D’Aqui and Fever Tree bitter lemon soda) and the Blackberry Bourbon Smash, and has a large lounge menu. Avoid the cramped lobby bar.

Ladies First

Getting the girls together? One of the most female-friendly lounges is Bellagio’s Lily Bar  (formerly the Caramel Room), pretty much the mother of all Vegas pre-gamers—a strong enough scene in itself that some people never make it past here to The Bank or Hyde clubs nearby! Go for the classics here, or if you won big at the tables, splurge on a Private Stock selection like the $400 Sidecar, made with Ferrand Cognac Memoire 1914 and Grand Marnier Quintessence.  It’s okay, you’re worth it.

*Cover Photo Courtesy of E.C. Gladstone

 

 

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