When it opens later this year, walking into Liquid Diet will feel like entering a house party thrown in a basement belonging to teenage witches. At least, that’s the vision Bret Pfister and Patrick Mannion have laid out for their new bar, which they hope to open in March in the Las Vegas Arts District. The two friends and business partners are building the bar from the ground up, gutting an old auto garage to make room for an unstuffy bar, cocktail kitchen, and patio. “I want it to feel like being at a friend’s house party,” says Pfister. “I want people to feel a connection to a time when drinking or being in a bar felt a little naughty and adult and exclusive.”
The new bar is a culmination of Mannion’s culinary background and Pfister’s experiences visiting bars all over the world as an aerialist with touring circus productions. The two owners met as kids in youth circus in New England. As adults, Mannion transitioned into the world of food, attending the Culinary Institute of America, while Pfister pursued performance. With his travels came partying within the local bar scene of whichever city he landed in.
“Here’s the thing,” says Pfister. “Throughout my career, I wasn’t cultivating any other skills, so I said to myself, how can I take these skills of what I’ve learned about what I like about bars or dislike about bars and what I think is a great party and turn it into a place other people will love?” In thinking back to bars he’s loved, he identifies commonalities: bars that have welcoming staff, an environment in which he’s comfortable talking to strangers, and top-notch drinks. He hopes to blend all of those elements into Liquid Diet.
In 2017, Pfister moved to Las Vegas from the U.K. to work with the Miss Behave Game Show. From there, he got into organizing parties for on-Strip shows and bartending downtown. By the summer of 2021, Pfister felt he has gleaned all there was to know about building a great night out and he and Mannion got a lease on an old garage at 1415 South Commerce Street, near Imperial Avenue.
When the building has a real floor again, they’ll get to work furnishing the bar for a loungey basement feel using elements of “nature, mystery, and mysticism,” says Pfister. Hoping to capture the feel of a house party, he aims to make the bar an unpretentious one, with moody lighting, shoestring-budget decor, and a tight selection of drink offerings. The space is about 1,600 square feet, one-third of which will be used for the kitchen, where Mannion will make syrups, juices, and sodas for cocktails.
Pfister has a clear vision for the bar. You can select something from the menu, or give the bartender an idea of the flavors you go for and they’ll help you choose. “And if you can’t find something on this menu that you’d like to try, then I’m going to point you to a couple bars that might scratch that itch for you,” says Pfister. Currently, they’re experimenting with flavors like a strawberry black pepper soda, blends of alcohol and dairy, and drinks that highlight citrus and bitters for a limited selection of cocktails, shots, and maybe a wine or beer option.
“My hope is that you will be taken by what a unique space it is and immediately feel welcomed into whatever is happening,” says Pfister. “It needs to be a space where you don’t feel bad if you spill your drink.”