“I read your column this week,” says Michael Cornthwaite, owner of the Downtown Cocktail Room.
“Oh, yeah?” I say, sipping my glass of pinot noir and resisting the urge to say,
“You’re the one.”
“Yeah,” he replies. “And I asked George, ‘Does it sound like he likes this bar?’”
I stifle an embarrassed smile, thinking back on my lukewarm review.
“So then,” Michael continues, “I actually looked up the review you wrote for us, and I compared the two, and I said, ‘Yeah—he definitely gave us a much nicer review.’”
“And I spent most of the night in this corner,” I say, gesturing to where I sit at the leftmost corner of the bar—the same spot I staked out on DCR’s opening night.
“Imagine how good the review would have been if I’d circulated through the rest of the room.”
Intrigued by this trip down memory lane, I withdraw my small, faux-leather-clad notebook from my jacket pocket and flip back to the beginning, to almost a year ago, and discover my original notes on Downtown Cocktail Room.
At first, I’m shocked by how dry and spartan the observations are, most of which comment on how hard it was to figure out that the flat slab of silver metal out front was actually the door. Now that we’re on the verge of the bar’s first anniversary, and because this room has been the stage for many pivotal events in my life, I’m a little surprised I didn’t rave about it more on my first visit. But then, you don’t write a love sonnet on the first date.
However, now I can let my heart sing for DCR. I haven’t written a poem since high school, but I vaguely remember iambic pentameter, so here goes:
From lounges to taverns to dives to clubs,
I’ve emptied a glass at many a bar,
But of all of Vegas’s many pubs,
One stands above, and that’s DCR.
With its handle-less door and subtle sign,
It seemed like the place was trying to hide.
The hidden entry an intended design,
To keep the riffraff and tourists outside.
Downtown, back then, was still lifeless and drab.
East Fremont, much worse—a place to beware.
But hidden behind that brushed silver slab,
Was a bar you would never think to find there.
It was cozy and cool, fresh and unique.
Not gaudy and loud like those bars on the Strip.
The down-tempo music allowed us to speak.
The room’s atmosphere was classy and hip.
I was there the first night they opened Downtown.
Sitting at the bar, laying claim to a stool.
I still claim that seat every time I come ’round.
It’s mine to this day, and I think that’s cool.
Some people go there to mingle and meet,
Or down a few drinks to unwind and chill.
The cocktail list simply cannot be beat—
No Bloody Mary tops the Downtown Dill.
It was there that I courted a girl I knew.
We flirted and kissed over glasses of wine.
On barstools our love blossomed and grew.
Now her reserved seat sits beside mine.
The place is so great, I’d rather not share it—
Just keep it a secret for me and my friends.
With swarms of people, I just couldn’t bear it—
It’s brought me a joy I hope never ends.
But bar lovers are owed a chance to visit,
And when they do, they will likely find me.
Because away too long, I’d surely miss it,
Even with days of barhopping behind me.
DCR’s earned a place in Las Vegas lore,
For those smart enough to locate the door.
Downtown Cocktail Room
111 Las Vegas Blvd.