A visit to Las Vegas typically gets better once you’ve got a drink in hand. Make sure to skip those boozy slushies and enjoy the very best of what Las Vegas has to offer, whether on or off the Strip.
Long Island Iced Tea: Whether ordering in a casino bar or nightclub, a Long Island Iced Tea costs between $15-23, making it the best bang for your buck. Served tall with tequila, vodka, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a just a splash of sweet and sour plus cola, this heavyweight packs plenty of punch.
Cosmopolitan: Best remembered from its regular appearance on Sex and the City, this vodka-cranberry classic is the perfect compliment to another ladies classic in Vegas — the little black dress. The sweet and sassy cocktail is found (unsurprisingly) at bars throughout the Cosmopolitan.
The Barrymore: Tucked inside the Royal Resort near the north end of the Strip, The Barrymore is a true hidden gem in Las Vegas. Its signature cocktail is like a cross between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned, made with Gentlemen Jack, blood orange liqueur, and orange marmalade.
Flight of Icarus: A few servings of this exotic variation on the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, will almost certainly have you trying to fly toward the sun. Find it at Vesper at the Cosmopolitan.
Pink Flamingo Punch: Nothing says vacation like sipping this combo of Absolut Elyx, sparkling wine, dry vermouth, Aperol, strawberry syrup, and lemon juice in a flamingo-shaped decanter from Skyfall Cocktail Lounge on the 64th floor of the Delano.
The Painkiller: Head to Chinatown where the Golden Tiki serves up plenty of kitsch and rum-fueled cocktails. The Painkiller, first created in the British Virgin Islands back in the 70s, is given a makeover with a heavy dose of Pusser’s Rum, tropical fruit juices, coconut cream, fresh-ground nutmeg, and a dollop of Dole Whip, a frozen pineapple treat that was once only available at Disneyland.
Holland House: Almost like a tart Martini, the Holland House blends subtle lemon and cherry flavors with Bols Genever, a Dutch spirit similar to gin. It’s prepared perfectly at Herbs & Rye, an off-Strip industry clubhouse where other bartenders in Vegas go when off the clock.
Yardbird Old Fashioned: It’s no surprise that a Southern-style restaurant like Yardbird has a killer bourbon selection — including five takes on an Old Fashioned. Start with the house version, made with bacon-infused Wild Turkey 81, and continue from there.
Rum Swizzle: With a drink program put together by famed mixologist Tony Abou Ganim, you know any cocktail at Libertine Social is going to be good. Have fun with one of four swizzles that can be prepared tableside in a pitcher. The rum cocktail is churned by hand in crushed ice with a swizzle stick.
Mai Tai: You’ve probably had a sugary watered down version of a Mai Tai in a plastic cup somewhere, but to have one made right, venture to Rosina at the Palazzo — a haven for classic cocktails. The rum-based drink is served with crushed ice and a mint as garnish in a spooky Tiki-style glass that resembles a human skull.
Smoky Negroni: The smoky cocktail trend has been around for years at Hakkasan Restaurant inside the MGM Grand. The Smoky Negroni puts a new spin on the gin and Campari concoction with a Grand Marnier smoke infusion.
Moscow Mule: You’ll find a Moscow Mule on nearly any drink menu in Las Vegas, but it’s worth a trip to the Downtown Container Park to try one of nine variations by Oak & Ivy. The bar uses its own house-made ginger beer to give this (usually) vodka-based cocktail a crisp finish.
The Penicillin: The Dorsey is a sophisticated social spot with a drink menu curated by acclaimed New York mixologist Sam Ross. It includes his signature cocktail, The Penicillin, made with Scotch, lemon, ginger, and a touch of honey.
Verbena: Sometimes the coolest drinks are off the menu. Visit the middle level of the three-story Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan and ask for the Verbena, in which a mixture of tequila, ginger, and lemon is topped with an edible flower that when consumed, changes the taste of the cocktail itself.
Water: The last thing you might plan to drink in Vegas is the most important. The dry climate, summer heat, and excessive alcohol consumption makes hydration a key component of any night out — even if you have to buy a $1 bottle from a street vendor while wandering down the Strip.
Main image credit: Libertine Social