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.
Keith Baker grew up eating a lot of barbecue. Born in Memphis, his first pseudo-bartending job was popping beers at a catfish restaurant before moving on to TGI Friday's. In Vegas, his first restaurant experience came at Texas de Brazil before he bounced around, finally figuring out craft cocktails is what he wanted to do. As the lead bartender for Valentino at the Venetian, he worked on his bartending skills for three years before landing at Oak & Ivy, the new craft whiskey bar inside the Downtown Container Park. Here he works as the principle bartender. "All of my favorite places are downtown," Baker says. "You get whatever you want and if you change your mood the next bar is a pop-over away. There are some great places on the Strip, but for me the best of the best are downtown."
Which bars or lounges do you turn to when you’re not working?
Atomic Liquors is my home bar for sure, they have everything; one of the best beer programs in town, excellent craft cocktails, and an intimidatingly capable staff.
Even though I don't make it there as much as I should Velveteen Rabbit's program is by far the most exciting to me from a strictly cocktail view. When I walk in there I know I will be leaving with new ideas and possibly a few I'm just going to outright steal.
The last one is Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads. I used to work there but you have some amazing bar staff there with crazy personality and knowledge.
Which cocktails are most memorable?
At Atomic, Peaches and Herb. It's crazy because it's a really well balanced cocktail with Ancho Reyes and Mezcal but you drink like you are biting into a peach, it's weird good.
At Velveteen, the Green Bitch. You are going to always make me happy if you put green Chartreuse in a drink but this one doesn't just rely on the awesomeness that is Chartreuse.
At Oscar's the Red Light District is my favorite. A vodka cocktail (I know, right?) with Aperol and fresh lime, it's just sweet and just bitter enough to be inspiring.
Why do you enjoy going there?
At Atomic you are going to find the most inspired all around menu with some of the best bartenders in Vegas. Their newly finished large format list with you-can't-find-anywhere sours is worth it but they can off-the-hip it with the best of them and have great cocktails on their list.
Velveteen, you go there to be inspired. You look down at the list and go home with a pad of notes on how to think differently about cocktails. Between Lyle and The Sisters they have it pretty much figured out.
Oscar's I go back for the happy hour and well made classics. I usually rock an Aviation with the best steak tartar around.