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A Look at the Treasures Found Inside Historic Atomic Liquors

Barbra Streisand’s bar stool, Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite whiskey, pool cues with no tables, and more

Atomic Liquors
Atomic Liquors
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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.

Pool sticks at Atomic Liquors
These original signs are from when Atomic Liquors opened in 1952. Visitors can see pool sticks on the wall, but there is no pool table. The new owners kept them as an homage.
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Original signs from Atomic Liquors
Original signs from Atomic Liquors
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Old Crow whiskey at Atomic Liquors
When the new owners were cleaning out the storage, they found old bottles of Old Crow whiskey. After a little research, they found out this was one of Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite spirit, so it’s now the well whiskey and also the base for the Hunter Smash, one of the bar’s most popular cocktails.
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The Hunter S. Smash at Atomic Liquors
The Hunter S. Smash at Atomic Liquors
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Geiger counter at Atomic Liquors
A Geiger counter sits on the bar. The original owners used it to measure radiation in people and in food.
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Barbra Streisand bar stool
The only bar stool with a back was reserved for Barbra Streisand, who would would sit there every time she visited.
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Mural at Atomic Liquors
Bar legend has it that a patron racked up a large tab and couldn’t pay it so he painted this to settle up. It hangs in the back left side of the bar.
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A safe handle sits on the bar (lower center of photo)
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Atomic Liquors safe
A safe was found in the floor to the left of the bar. When it was lifted it up, it contained were old bar receipts and the original owner’s sheriff’s card from 1969. It now serves as a time capsule with original Atomic relics from the 1950s and ’60s.
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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.

Lance Johns Talks About the First Five Years of Atomic Liquors [ELV]

All Coverage of Atomic Liquors [ELV]

Atomic Liquors

917 East Fremont Street, , NV 89101 (702) 982-3000

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