The original Atomic Liquors may have shuttered on Jan. 1, 2011, but the home of the city’s oldest liquor license rose again from the ashes back in 2012. Downtown attorney Lance Johns, his brother Kent Johns, a commercial real estate broker salesman, and Derek Stonebarger converted the 2,500-square-foot venue into an entertainment hub for artists.
Atomic originally opened in 1945 as Virginia’s, a cafe where customers watched atomic blasts while drinking atomic-themed cocktails. In 1952, Virginia’s became Atomic Liquors and later received the first package liquor license and off-sales permit of Vegas in 1957. Since it opened, Joe and Stella Sobchik, 65-year residents of Las Vegas, owned the bar. The couple died three months apart in 2010.
This place is rich in history. Gangster Bugsy Siegel, actor Roy Rogers, singer Barbra Streisand, comedians The Smothers Brothers, actors Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro, and TV host Rod Serling are some of the bold-face names with ties to the place.
Members of the Rat Pack including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, as well as comedians Tom and Dick Smothers spent late nights there after headlining shows on the Las Vegas Strip since the iconic bar was one of the few spots pouring drinks after hours. When Barbra Streisand was in town, she would play pool there. Actor Roy Rogers spent so much time in the place that he used it as a location in his Westerns and television shows.
Atomic Liquors was immortalized by Martin Scorsese’s Casino, where it was the setting for the scene where Joe Pesci’s character uses a pen kill a man.
The Atomic Liquors sign even makes appearances in an episode of the Twilight Zone, The Hangover and Clint Eastwood’s 1977 classic The Gauntlet.
Here, a look at some of the vintage finds inside the Atomic Liquors space.
Other Fun Facts
The owners also found an unopened bottle of Amer Picon from the 1950s. The bittersweet French liqueur is not produced anymore and cocktail enthusiasts have offered thousands of dollars to try it. Every request has been denied.
Atomic Liquors owns the most expensive bottle of craft beer. The beer, featured on the show Brew Dogs, is worth $3,600.
• All Coverage of Atomic Liquors [ELV]