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Nightlife

A night of booze and nostalgia at the new, old Atomic Liquors

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It’s the Bomb Atomic Liquors might have that new-bar smell, but it retains its vintage charm.
Fred Morledge
Jorge Labrador
Longtime Downtown watering hole Atomic Liquors recently reopened its doors.

Longtime Downtown watering hole Atomic Liquors recently reopened its doors.

I don’t care how classy you think you are; if you’re at Atomic Liquors, you’ll be dropping F-Bombs by the end of the night.

The F-Bomb is the “official drink of the Atomic Testing Museum,” a bomb-style concoction of Fireball cinnamon whiskey, Fernet-Branca and Atomic Energy Drink that forms into a liquor mushroom cloud. It’s just one of the memorable touches at Las Vegas’ oldest, newest neighborhood bar.

The recently reopened Atomic has a long history that’s very present in its current reincarnation. The bar is the proud owner of Vegas’ first Tavern License (No. 00001!) and was a favored hangout for entertainment legends like the Rat Pack, the Smothers Brothers and Barbra Streisand. (Babs still has her own reserved seat.)

While there are no singers around on this particular Saturday night, the crowd is a mix of people who’ve probably never set foot east of Fremont and Sixth and folks who are just happy to have their after-work watering hole back. One bartender says they get people who’ve been “coming for 20 years or more,” but a good chunk of this crowd wasn’t of legal drinking age two years ago, let alone 20.

The F Bomb at Atomic Liquors.

The F Bomb at Atomic Liquors.

Even with all the renovations and new Atomic merch for sale, this place exists in a kind of time warp. It’s pristine with that lovely new-bar smell, but it feels like it’s from a bygone era. The stone bar top looks brand new and yet evokes that feeling of “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” Vintage Atomic-Age items like Geiger counters, photos and art are scattered about, and inlaid in the floor are artifacts from the bar’s original owners, Joe and Stella Sobchik, including an ID card, a nickel, a bottle of Smirnoff and a pistol.

While the bar’s prices aren’t Cold War era, they are damn cheap. Craft beers range from $5 to $7 and cocktails from $7 to $12. The cheapo tap beer of choice is still Busch, which was apparently taste-tested against PBR and Hamm’s by the staff before re-earning its spot on the beer list.

Stepping inside here is like being in the Twilight Zone—an episode of which was filmed at this very bar. And whether you’re a newbie or an Atomic vet, no one will mind if you drop an F-Bomb or two.

Atomic Liquors 917 Fremont St., 982-3000. Wednesday, 4 p.m.-midnight; Thursday, 4 p.m.-8 a.m.; weekend hours, Friday, 4 p.m.-Sunday, 8 a.m.

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