Category Archives: Las Vegas Bars

Lounge Receipt Whips Up Online Firestorm About “Rocks” Charges

A bar receipt from Indigo Lounge a Bally’s has stirred up heated discussion online, but the outrage, it turns out, is largely misguided.

The receipt, posted by a customer to the Bally’s Facebook page, shows what many have mistaken as $3 charges for ice.

Here’s the receipt in question.

Rocks receipt

The receipt that inspired a thousand Facebook comments and angry reaction emoji thingys.

When we first saw this receipt, we got worked up like everyone else, but quickly realized we are largely an idiot.

It seems the term “rocks” has nothing to do with ice in this context. When a customer orders liquor on the rocks, it’s standard to pour an extra half-ounce of liquor. A standard pour is 1.5 ounces, but drinks on the rocks contain two ounces.

The $3 charge, then, is for the additional liquor, not the ice. A common term for the additional charge is a “rocks bump.”

Apparently, one of the motivations for this practice is 1.5 ounces of liquor doesn’t look like very much alcohol when poured into a rocks glass. Those in the bartending field say customers who order drinks on the rocks are well aware they’ll get a larger pour, and customers tend to feel they’re actually getting a decent deal because they’re getting a third more hooch for a token charge.

Captain and diet cocktail

If people would just stick to Captain and diet like we do, things like this wouldn’t happen in the first place. Note: Foliage optional.

It seems the “rocks” notation on the receipt is used more as an internal accounting notation than a description of what the customer is receiving. From what we can tell, a customer would be charged the rocks bump for a drink ordered “neat” as well, or without ice.

In many bars, the upcharge for a stronger pour is included in a drink’s overall price, thereby sidestepping customer confusion and the furor Indigo’s receipt caused.

So, the whole “rocks” thing was much ado about nothing. Nevertheless, there was a definite kerfuffle. How much of one? Check us out on KTNV talking about both the “ker” and the “fuffle.”

Rocks receipt

Told you it was a thing.

Although, when we said “largely misguided,” we left a little room for outrage. First, man alive, drinks are expensive. In Vegas, $16 is the new $8. Just remember, you’re not paying for a drink, you’re paying for an experience, and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

Second, look elsewhere on the receipt and you’ll find the ominous phrase, “Peak pricing may apply.”

“Peak pricing” amounts to what’s called “surge pricing” in the rideshare world. The greater the demand, the higher the prices.

We wrote about peak pricing awhile back as we noticed more and more Las Vegas restaurants leaving prices off their menus. Restaurants often do this so they have the flexibility to raise prices when it’s deemed necessary. That means you can have the same meal on a Tuesday or Saturday night, but the price you pay could change dramatically.

Peak pricing might not warrant outrage, but it’s certainly worth asking about if you’re making a reservation.

In Las Vegas, we only want happy surprises.

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The Nerd Nightclub Poised to Open Discreetly at Downtown’s Neonopolis

A new nightclub and bowling venue, The Nerd, is set to open on March 30, 2017, at downtown’s Neonopolis shopping complex.

The Nerd Neonopolis

We grabbed this from a video. There’s a 65% probability it’s not the actual logo for The Nerd.

The Nerd hasn’t really been on the radar to-date, and publicity about the opening has pretty much been non-existent (perhaps intentionally), but this new nightlife concept could very well be a breath of fresh air at Neonopolis.

There’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for 11:00 a.m. on March 30, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman is expected to attend.

Here’s the video invitation. Which we didn’t actually receive, officially. We’ll try and get over it.

Not too much is known about The Nerd, except it’s taking over the space formerly occupied by the wildly underrated Drink & Drag nightclub, a bar featuring (wait for it) drag queens.

The space includes a 12-lane bowling alley and dance floor, and The Nerd will presumably take advantage of both.

We caught a glimpse of some of the nightclub’s decor, and it appears “Breaking Bad” will play a part in the club’s decor.

The Nerd nightclub

If your club has a meth-making suit from “Breaking Bad,” you can consider us a fan.

From what we understand, employees had their first day of training on March 28. So, with an opening on March 30, it’s possible the establishment has made a conscious decision to keep its soft opening on the down-low.

We caught a group of servers leaving the venue, and they were universally attractive and dressed in white shirts and black shorts or skirts. Most of the employees sport suspenders to add to the nerdy theme.

The Nerd Las Vegas

Remember, it’s not creepy if you’re taking the photo for your blog.

In fact, The Nerd is going so incognito, there are no signs whatsoever outside the club, other than a legacy sign from Hi Life Lanes from back in the day. We overheard a sign is set to arrive any day now.

In the meantime, we’re honestly excited to have the Drink & Drag space back in action. It’s a challenging location for a business, but there are very few places to dance downtown, and this seems to fit the bill. Word is The Nerd is taking a lot of inspiration from the wildly successful Gold Spike, formerly a casino, but now a nightlife hangout for the cool kids that is pretty much printing money every weekend.

The Nerd is the brainchild of Jonathan Borchetta, owner of the Voodoo Zip Line attraction at Rio Las Vegas.

Here’s our recipe for success at The Nerd: Keep the price points right, adjust the music volume so we can hold a conversation, throw in some decent munchies and we’ll be there will our nerdy friends to drink, bowl and feebly attempt to dance the night away.

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Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts Three New Venues: Redneck Riviera, Born and Raised, Giordano’s

There’s been a flurry of activity at Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s Las Vegas in recent months, including the unveiling of three shiny new venues: Giordano’s, Redneck Riviera and the newest offering, Born and Raised.

It’s time to explore these new venues as only we can—superficially, and with generous amounts of snark so we don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

First up is Redneck Riviera. Redneck Riviera is a country bar, founded by John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich.

Redneck Riviera

We are not a country music person, so we honestly wouldn’t recognize a Big & Rich song if it were stapled to our forehead.

Redneck Riviera is billed as “a Vegas experience like none-other.” No, they actually say that, in writing. What makes Redneck Riviera so different? “Great music, great drinks, great people!” We are not making this up.

If you want to stand out from other bars in Las Vegas, you have to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and you certainly can’t find great music, great drinks or great people, so Rednect Riviera is pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

Hey, we warned you about the snark.

Redneck Riviera

You know, just the typical Las Vegas marketing strategy of having young women stand on barrels.

Beyond the country music and any number of white people attempting to dance, Redneck Riviera also has some great decorative touches.

First, there’s a saddle-shaped disco ball over the dance floor.

Redneck Riviera

It’s like the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Millennial translation: Oh, nevermind.

There’s also an American flag fashioned from beer cans over one of the establishment’s two bars.

Redneck Riviera

‘Merica.

In the men’s room, you’ll find urinals made from beer kegs. They’re so cool, we’re tempted to listen to a portion of a country song.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

This is going directly to the top of our list of offbeat Las Vegas photo ops.

Also in the restroom are sinks made from tires. The faucets are gas pumps. Seriously charming.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

You’re welcome, Asian tour groups.

One of the best selling points of Redneck Riviera is it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

The vibe is casual and often rowdy, the staff is friendly, and Redneck Riviera serves a niche clientele likely to stray from Toby Keith’s restaurant at Harrah’s and Gilley’s at Treasure Island to give this new honky-tonk hangout a try.

Next, we move to Born and Raised.

Born and Raised is an offshoot of an existing, locally-owned bar and pub. Named Born and Raised. Please try and keep up.

Born and Raised

St. Paddy’s Day seemed a good day to visit, hoochwise.

Born and Raised at Grand Bazaar Shops is technically named “Born and Raised CRAFT PUB.” Seriously. The “craft pub” is capitalized in all the media and marketing materials.

It’s as if Born and Raised suddenly contracted Tourette Syndrome.

Born and Raised has a tiny footprint, even by Grand Bazaar Shops standards. The bar has seating for about 14 people inside, with another 12 seats just outside.

Born and Raised

Born and Raised is so small you could fit it in your pocket. But don’t. That’s shoplifting.

While other Born and Raised locations in Las Vegas serve food, the Grand Bazaar Shops outpost does not. Which is probably for the best, as we recently had our first encounter with Born and Raised’s food, and it fell firmly into the “Meh” category.

Yes, “Meh” is a category. Other categories include “Mind-Blowing” (Pizza Rock, downtown), “Forgettable” (Beerhaus at The Park), “Regrettable” (The Still at Mirage) and “It’ll Do in a Pinch, Especially If We’re Wasted” (everywhere else on The Strip).

Born and Raised

We look forward to getting to know each and every Born and Raised cocktail personally.

Born and Raised offers a menu of signature cocktails, each runs $13. There is also beer, although we have never personally had a beer, so we aren’t able to comment upon the breadth or quality of the selection.

Finally, we get all up inside Giordano’s.

Giordano’s is a name that may sound familiar. The chain is known for its Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza.

Giordano's Las Vegas

Giordano’s sits astride a Starbucks that once announced it would serve liquor. Never happened, to our chagrin, whatever a “chagrin” might actually be.

Giordano’s has gone malls deep into Grand Bazaar Shops, with what amounts to three locations. There’s the second floor main restaurant, another dining area and bar on the ground level (fancifully called the Grand Allee walkway), and there’s also a walk-up window.

Giordano's Grand Bazaar Shops

The Giordano surname has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name of the Jordan river. Yes, we have exhausted our supply of photo captions.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, Giordano’s is disappointing on any number of levels.

First, the wait time if you order pizza is agonizing. It took nearly an hour to get our simple cheese pizza, and the restaurant was pretty much empty.

During our wait, staff was sweeping up and mopping, one of our biggest pet peeves in any restaurant. (We were there two hours before closing time, but it was obvious employees were champing at the bit to close up shop.) Adding to the unpleasantness of our visit, staff members were moving chairs around the dining room not by lifting them, but by dragging them, lending the restaurant roughly the same welcoming ambiance as a smoke detector testing facility.

Giordano's Las Vegas

We predict only one of the Giordano’s spaces will survive. It’s anybody’s guess which.

It was only after our pizza arrived that the WTF began in earnest.

Stuffed pizza isn’t actually pizza, it turns out. It’s 14 pounds of melted cheese ladled onto a flaky, flavorless crust. A layer of sauce sits on the cheese, clearly embarrassed to be part of such a bastardization of the world’s greatest food.

Giordano's pizza

Fun fact: The word “no” is the same in English and Italian. Apply liberally at Giordano’s.

We’d love to say we’ll be back to try the thin crust pizza at Giordano’s, but why would we when there are so many other, far-more-worthy pizza offerings in the neighborhood? We’d hit Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Martorano’s at Paris or The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan 100 times before doing Giordano’s again.

Sorry, but pizza is serious business, and what they serve at Giordano’s barely qualifies. It’s more like fondue, although that’s probably doing a disservice to fondue.

Here’s a better look at the Giordano’s menu, and here’s the pizza menu, because you wisely don’t blindly trust the opinion of blogs when it comes to pies.

If you love Giordano’s, we love hearing differing viewpoints. Or at least pretend to.

Giordano's Las Vegas

When it doubt, margarita.

It’s great to see Grand Bazaar Shops bringing in new talent. The mall seems to churn through tenants (mall management would owe harsh penalties to Caesars Entertainment, owners of Bally’s, if Grand Bazaar Shops falls below a certain percentage of occupancy), but a few successful bars and restaurants could give some of the millions of people who walk by each year a reason to stop.

It was recently announced Philly Pretzel Factory is coming to Grand Bazaar Shops later in the year. We’re struggling to contain our excitement.

Our friends at Eater Vegas say another restaurant will open across from Giordano’s patio bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. We’ve tried it, and we’re filing that one in the “Forgettable” category, too.

Hey, not everything’s going to stick. Only time will tell which venues will thrive or expire. In Vegas, change is always on the menu.

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts New Venues

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Lappert’s Ice Cream is So Very Back at The California

Our favorite ice cream place in Las Vegas closed for a renovation, but Lappert’s Ice Cream is back and making us swoon all over again.

Lappert's Ice Cream

Second floor of The Cal, next to the Ethel M chocolate store, because your thighs deserve a vacation, too.

We’re sort of at a loss to say what’s changed about Lappert’s following its renovation, as the current shop is virtually indistinguishable from the previous incarnation.

The Cal Lappert's

Oh, just pretend you see a big difference. The last thing you want is ice cream with hurt feelings.

Something that’s definitely changed is the fact our favorite ice cream flavor is back, specifically, chocolate chip (not mint chocolate chip, that’s as blasphemous as pineapple on pizza).

Lappert's Ice Cream

And all was right with the world.

A couple of the display cases have been upgraded, and it’s possible the decor has been spruced up a bit, but otherwise, it’s the Lappert’s legions of devotees know and love.

The menu remains the same, and Lappert’s still serves up the best shaved ice in Las Vegas along with the best ice cream.

The Cal Lappert's hours

Let’s call this an “infographic.” The kids love infographics.

Downtown’s California casino has been undergoing dramatic changes in its casino, bars and restaurants in recent months. It’s estimated the hotel has invested $40 million in upgrades.

It seems there are more changes to come, and we sleuthed one upon entering The Cal. One of the neon signs, for Dave’s Aloha Bar, has gone dark.

Dave's Bar California

True Vegas fanatics will notice the Main Street Bar remains lit despite it having closed months ago. Sleuthing is an imperfect science.

We poked around a bit and were informed the bar has, indeed, closed, although it’s occasionally used for special events. We couldn’t get anyone to fess up about when, or if, it might be closed for good.

Dave's Bar California

The video poker machines at Dave’s Bar still function, but you’ll need to find a cocktail waitress to get your hooch.

It’s possible the bar is being phased out since the nearby sports book has moved to a new sports book and lounge downstairs.

California sports book

There are no traces of the former sports book at The Cal. Las Vegas is magical like that.

The California is about a block off of Fremont Street, and Lappert’s Ice Cream is well worth the short stroll.

We consider Lappert’s Ice Cream a Las Vegas must-do. Let us know if you agree. If not, keep it to yourself and think about seeking medical assistance because your taste buds may have taken a severe blow to the head.

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Alto Bar Opens at Caesars Palace With Virtual Reality On the Menu

Caesars Palace recently unveiled its new Alto Bar, replacing the decade-old Seahorse Lounge.

Alto Bar Caesars Palace

Replacing the Seahorse Lounge at Caesars was especially good news for the seahorses. Let’s just say they went through a lot of seahorses.

Alto Bar is the result of a multi-million-dollar renovation, and the bar is located adjacent to Omnia Nightclub and Searsucker, a restaurant you never hear anything about, which is always a good sign.

Alto Bar Caesars Palace

Officials haven’t said what inspired the name “Alto,” but recent bar names (Vista, Apostrophe and Fizz) have intentionally steered clear of the resort’s Roman Empire theme.

Alto Bar is the biggest bar at a resort with lots of great bars.

Booths throughout Alto have adorable TV screens because god forbid you go 15 minutes without access to sports.

Alto lounge Caesars Palace

There are six people on staff just to keep track of all the remotes.

The bar has 18 video poker machines. The machine we played was looser than our sister, but your results may vary. With the machines. Our sister is pretty much a sure thing.

The cocktail menu features wildly overpriced drinks, and by that we mean sort of typical prices at Strip resorts these days. Remember, you’re not just paying for a drink, you’re paying for an experience!

Alto Bar Caesars Las Vegas

We don’t know what all those symbols mean. We are a Las Vegas blog, not an Egyptologist.

We had the expertly-prepared Alto Margarita. Hey, $16 is the new $8, but it was delicious. The margarita features Caesars Select Patrón Reposado tequila, Cointreau liqueur, agave nectar, lime juice and a floater of Grand Marnie, whatever that might actually be.

Alto Bar Las Vegas

In awesome news, video poker players can get the signature drinks comped when they play (drinks up to $16). This baby definitely qualifies as a panty-dropper cocktail.

There’s a small selection of draft beer ($9), bottled beer ($8), wine and non-alcoholic offerings.

There are also snacks, including mixed nuts ($7), classic ketel chips ($7) and a “Chef’s Selection” of meats, cheeses and heath breads. Psst, it’s not about the snacks.

The best thing about Alto Bar at the moment is the virtual reality lounge!

The adjoining Oculus Virtual Reality Lounge is easily overlooked and a complete and utter blast.

Alto Bar virtual reality

Oculus Touch, owned by Facebook, uses a pair of tracked hand controllers that give you the feeling the virtual hands are your own. It’s freaky and addictive. Sorry, it’s fire. Or possibly lit. We have trouble keeping up.

If you haven’t tried VR yet, now’s the time, and not just because it’s free. Although, that certainly doesn’t hurt. (Ads for the Virtual Reality Lounge say it’s free with the purchase of a cocktail, but tell them we sent you and they’ll probably let it slide.)

Basically, VR requires that you don a goofy headset and wear two hand controllers. Motion sensors track the movement of your body and create a virtual interaction with your surroundings.

The VR lounge at Alto Bar offers several demos, including The Unspoken, The Climb, VR Sports Challenge and Bullet Train.

Alto Bar Caesars Palace

We’d say virtual reality is the best thing, ever, but we’ve been with actual women. Yes, plural, thanks to a little something called red wine.

The VR lounge won’t be there forever, so take full advantage before March 28, 2017.

Alto Bar is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m and 24 hours Friday through Sunday.

Alto virtual reality lounge

Caesars doesn’t seem to be heavily promoting the VR lounge, so that means more playtime for you.

The virtual reality lounge operates from 4:00 p.m. to midnight during the week and stays open until 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Guests must be 21 or older to use the virtual reality system.

Kudos to Caesars for giving guests some added value at Alto Bar. Virtual reality is mesmerizing, and once you’re in, you’ll never want to stop. Trust us on this one!

Caesars Palace Las Vegas

When you’re at Caesars, check out the swanky new carpet. It definitely doesn’t steer clear of the Roman theme.

Expect to see more VR cropping up at Las Vegas casinos. There’s a new VR Adventures shop at Linq promenade, and MGM Grand has been promoting its “Ka” show with virtual reality stations in its lobby.

It’s only a matter of time before there’s a virtual reality strip club in Las Vegas. Not that anyone would be interested in something like that. At all. Especially not this Las Vegas blog. Ever. Probably.

Alto Lounge at Caesars Palace

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El Cortez Classes Up the Joint With New Bar and Lounge

As we wrote about months ago, El Cortez has its eye on a crowd it’s not known for catering to: Millennials.

Hoping to capture some of the youthful energy of downtown’s Fremont East District—bars like Commonwealth, The Griffin, Therapy and Park on Fremont keep it hopping, especially on weekends—El Cortez has unveiled its renovated casino bar.

El Cortez casino bar

We love us some Vegas newness.

When we first heard about the bar, the intention was to call it Imbibe. However, no new name has been officially announced. Now, we’re hearing it could be called Ike’s Bar, after the name of the company that owns El Cortez, Ike Gaming, Inc. (I.K.E. comes from the initials of Irving Kenneth Epstein, owner of the hotel-casino.)

El Cortez casino lounge

Let’s chill. Or Netflix. Or whatever the kids are doing.

The new bar, with its dark wood appointments and metallic ceiling tiles, doesn’t try to be The Dorsey at Venetian or Clique Lounge at Cosmopolitan. There’s no pretense, and the drinks are still dirt cheap, just the way we like them. The $5 Patron margarita looked especially enticing.

The bar’s footprint has been expanded to include a wood floor, which presumably could be used for dancing.

At the moment, the area is full of plush chairs and couches, perfect for hanging out with friends.

El Cortez casino lounge

Oh, just sit on something.

Thankfully, El Cortez hasn’t gone full Gold Spike, and there’s not a single game of cornhole or Jenga to be found.

Our favorite part of the new social area is a long table with chips from the now-closed Thunderbird and Western casinos embedded in the tabletop.

El Cortez casino bar

We have got to get us one of these.

No, really, it’s our favorite thing. Right behind the bottles of Captain Morgan at the bar, of course. Priorities.

El Cortez bar chips

The Western casino closed in 2012 and in its declining years held the distinction of inspiring more “Silkwood” showers than any other Las Vegas casino.

If that’s the Thunderbird we’re thinking of, it was originally the Silverbird, then El Rancho. It holds the distinction of being the place Judy Garland made her final Las Vegas appearance in 1965. Sweet nod to Vegas history, El Cortez.

El Cortez is trying to liven up this portion of the casino by loudly playing popular music through exactly six of the casino’s speakers just above the bar. We suspect this won’t land very well with the typical El Cortez customer, but we’re all going to have to learn to play nicely.

Ike’s Bar (it’s a coin toss at this point) has 19 video poker machines, 11 on one side and eight on the other.

The bar also features 10 flat screen TVs.

El Cortez casino bar

Cheap hooch, friendly service, video poker, mellow vibe. That’s our kind of Vegas.

The new casino bar at El Cortez is located near one of the entrances off Fremont Street, and sits next to the keno lounge and excellent Pizza Lotto restaurant. Pizza Lotto never did get those promised scratch-off lotto cards, but the solid pizza makes up for it.

You can still score freebies by visiting the Pizza Lotto Web site.

Cheers to El Cortez for investing in a more modern bar while retaining some old-school charm, including bartenders wearing old-timey garter on their sleeves.

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