Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's beverage players to share their recommendations for a random feature dubbed Cocktail Confidential. Know a bartender who wants to share some top cocktail spots? The tipline is open.
Alex Penalose [Photo: Chelsea McManus]
Alex Penalosa wanted to be a chef when he grew up. Then he quickly found that his true calling was cocktails. Penalosa has worked at Lavo at the Palazzo and Todd English P.U.B. at Crystals, and now finds himself as the head bartender at Comme Ça at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. here he's in charge of the Prohibition era 18A cocktail program. Here he shares some of his favorite places to imbibe when he's not behind the bar.
Which bars or lounges do you turn to when you're not working?
I love spending my off nights away from the crazy Las Vegas Strip and enjoying some genuine local hangouts in downtown. The Laundry Room at Commonwealth is one of my favorites because it offers that speakeasy vibe that I am so found of.
Tucked away in the Arts District is Velveteen Rabbit. This bar is an awesome low-key hangout. Not only does it have a great vibe, but it offers tons of choices from an awesome rotating beer list.
The Griffin is a bar that I've been going to for a while; I would almost consider this place as my regular hangout spot. I love my whiskey and my beer. Fortunately for me, this spot yields plentiful amounts of both.
What cocktails are most memorable?
My drink of choice when I visit the Laundry Room is the Mezcal Old Fashion. This drink is simple, but packed with flavor! Made with Mezcal, a white sugar cube and angostura bitters, the refreshing drink is served on the rocks with a twist of lemon and orange — the perfect summer drink!
When I find myself at Velveteen Rabbit, there is no better drink than the Negroni. Made with Gin, Campari and Antica Carpano, this cocktail is best enjoyed on the rocks with an orange twist. The combination of bitters and sweetness give it the perfect flavor that keeps me coming back for more.
The Griffin offers a combination of beverages that I love — the Willet Family Rye on the rocks with a Tripel Karmeliet to keep it company. The Willet Family Rye is this amazing small-batch rye whiskey finished in French white oak casks. It's so rare that there are only 180 bottles made per batch. To keep it company, the Tripel Karmeliet is a Belgian Blonde Ale, which is this crisp, refreshing beer with notes of lemon citrus.
Why do you enjoy going there?
A great cocktail isn't only the ingredients put into it, but the hands that are crafting it. The Laundry Room hosts some of the most skilled mixologists in our city. Not only do I enjoy the great speakeasy feel, but they offer some wonderfully balanced cocktails through and through.
I really support the goal and ideas that the two extremely sweet sisters behind Velveteen Rabbit are looking to accomplish. In my opinion, this is the perfect spot for locals to enjoy a relaxed craft bar experience. The bartenders here are incredibly helpful for those first time visitors. They hit the nail on the head when it comes to selecting the perfect drink based on the flavor profile you're looking to enjoy.
Fireplaces, dim lights and great music, it doesn't get much better than this. The Griffin feels like the heart of an old pirate ship in my opinion, and it is here you can find some of the friendliest bartenders in town, offering up some great (and inexpensive) cocktails.
· All Coverage of Comme Ca [~ELV~]
· All Coverage of Cocktail Confidential [~ELV~]
Alex Penalosa at work [Photo: Chelsea McManus]