Vegas nightlife’s early side is plenty wild
Thu, Aug 16, 2012 (midnight)
Photo: Bill Hughes
At Fiesta Rancho
Camped on the couch searching Google Images for Michael Phelps, I finally snapped. This was no way for someone young, childless and living in the Strip’s blast radius to spend a Friday evening. If Phelps were here, he’d be bottles-deep in the bender his certified crapload of Olympic medals deserves—the kind where breakfast is leftover beer and sleep is an accident. Because winners don’t quit when they’re tired.
Being merely human, I need an entire day to recover from drunk fatigue (and cheeseburger guilt). Sometimes being creepy in pajamas just seems more practical. Until you realize that if the Vegas party never stops, a good night can start early enough to include a good night’s sleep. Want proof?
1. Tequila and Toe Picks
North Las Vegas casino Fiesta Rancho has aces up its sleeve: drive-thru sports betting, the SoBe Ice Arena and Blue Agave Cantina’s Sandía Margarita. Big Al and I met for Blue Agave’s 4 to 9 p.m. happy hour, meaning the $8 Sandía cost $4. Cuervo Tradicional blanco, watermelon puree, rock candy syrup and a splash of sweet and sour make a tangy, luscious libation with a sugared rim and juicy melon garnish. You won’t find a tastier margarita for the price.
“It’s a signature drink from Garduño’s recipe book, so we can’t take full credit for that, but we do add the fun, the smile, the excitement of the room,” says Director of Beverage John Cordero, adding that Fiesta Rancho’s 99-cent blended margarita is always on deck.
Big Al and I didn’t dare. We were headed to Cosmic DJ Skate Night. Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m., the ice arena goes all-ages nightclub via mood lighting and a live DJ (unlike many Vegas venues, it doesn’t allow visible underwear). Admission is $7, plus $3 to try your luck on the ice. The nostalgia was thick as we watched teen couples do laps to throbbing hip-hop. Big Al put his skates on the wrong feet, but we both ended up feeling like kids again. Kids with tequila.
2. Pitchers and Sexy Parts
- Fountains at 5
- Live DJ sets and and a menu of summer cocktail exclusives.
- Fridays, 5-10 p.m., at the Bellagio, 693-8700.
After almost 14 years, the Bellagio still has a vise-grip on the public’s heart. My personal crush is on one of its newest assets, Hyde. The lounge is intimate and lush, and promotions indulge the early crowd. The latest is Friday “Fountains at 5,” with live DJ sets and the option of handcrafted pitchers on the patio. (You don’t need a reservation, but make one if you want a primo spot for the water show.) Exclusive summer pitchers ($75) range from sangria to Spicy Hurricane, but I can’t resist muddled cucumber, so the three musketeers and I went for Peachy Summer Bliss.
Maneuvering well in a metallic dress that looked vacuum-sealed, our server presented lowballs with wheels of fresh cucumber and orange on ice. Over that, she poured a concoction of Stoli Peachik vodka, white cranberry juice and cucumber water—clean, cold, delicious. She kept them topped off while the musketeers and I discussed the disturbing thought of our mothers reading Fifty Shades of Grey and the not-so-disturbing thought of Michael Phelps’ obliques. (I have issues.) Appropriately, the opening salvo of “God Bless the U.S.A.” blasted with the fountains.
3. Cocktails and Casablanca
At the Lady Silvia
- Jazz Happy Hour
- Live jazz and happy-hour drink prices.
- Fridays, 6-9 p.m., 900 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 300-1007.
I’m no Ingrid Bergman, and Downtown is far from 1940s Morocco, but the Lady Silvia’s Casablanca Jazz Happy Hour was a transformative escape. Jazz Happy Hour is every Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., but the August 3 session was extra special. Scenes of Bogey in his white tux cast their antique glow on the stage, where crooner Nik Mastrangelo and his band had the boutique speakeasy dancing. My favorite tune was “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás,” the 1947 hit by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés that’s all about romantic ambiguity.
At the bar, guest mixologist Gaston Martinez told me why he scrapped his planned menu of classic martinis. “If you’re talking a caipirinha or mojito, then yes. But the boozy cocktails—this town doesn’t have the weather,” he said.
In deference to the 105-degree night, Martinez presented four breezy twists featuring Stoli vodka or Milagro tequila. The heady perfume of lychee foam on the Fancy Paloma ($6) was chased with tartness and bite from Milagro reposado, lime and grapefruit juices, agave nectar and sparkling rosé. As I told Martinez, I could drink these all day. I was so effusive that the woman next to me ordered one, too, and we dished about love and lust, magic bracelets and finding action in Summerlin. I was having a ball, but there are sayings about turning into a pumpkin and ladies knowing when to leave. Mastrangelo sang the line: “The curtain descends / everything ends too soon, too soon.” Maybe so, but I don’t miss the dark circles.