Atomic Liquors (and a Vegas Quickie) with Sam Merritt!

Jimmy here, reporting from the desert:

Jimmy and the one and only Sam Merritt.

Jimmy and the one and only Sam Merritt.

One of the things we love about being Happy Hour Guys; now that we've been doing this for a while (I mean, we shot the pilot in 2006!), we often get a chance to reconnect with old friends. And last week offered a chance to catch up with one of our best and brightest from here out East, Sam Merritt. I got a last-minute gig in Las Vegas doing an Industrial, and while I was excited to see the Las Vegas Strip again, I knew that Sam could take us to places much cooler. Sam used to be with us here in the East Coast, where he has done everything from being a beer rep for Brooklyn Brewery to running his own Cicerone Beer Certification program called the Civilization of Beer. (Civ of Beer is a terrific course, by the way - we've taken it.) A couple years ago Sam decamped to points further West, and now serves as one of the Beer Education mavens for Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada.

A draft list at Aces & Ales (Tenaya Way).

A draft list at Aces & Ales (Tenaya Way).

We met up with Sam at Aces & Ales, on Tenaya Way quite a ways north and west of the Strip. Aces is easily one of Nevada's best craft beer bars, and would land in the top ten list of any high-end craft beer enthusiast worth his or her salt... anywhere. I have to say when I walked in and looked at the draft list, I wanted to genuflect, kiss the ground and weep happy tears. There were beers that rarely, if ever, get off the West coast, and if they do, out East we almost never see them on draft.  Not only that, but the bartenders are happy to do a six glass tasting flight of these ridiculous liquids - for $16. Sixteen bucks to taste beers that would be hard to find even if you went to the individual breweries and begged the men and women responsible for making them to pour! Also, speaking to the badassery of the bartenders, when they have 40+ beers on tap, doing flights is a tall order - and our guy (Assistant GM Matt Alexander) handled us with aplomb. So I was able to taste six astonishing beers within minutes of walking to the door. And in keeping with their name, Aces is has gaming (including video slot machines) on site, so you can possibly make back the money to pay for your order. Riiiiiight... remember folks, the House always wins! It was pretty amazing; Aces & Ales has it going on.

Old school and proud of it.

Old school and proud of it.

The bar at Atomic.

The bar at Atomic.

Next up was Atomic Liquors, in the Fremont District of Las Vegas, which is actually what we like to call 'Old' Vegas. This is the part of Las Vegas that existed before the Strip, where the old school casinos are, and all the neon (including the terrific Neon Museum), - the whole area is kitschy, throwback fun. And Atomic Liquors did not disappoint. Atomic is the oldest free-standing bar in the entire city, and also boasts the first package liquor license in the history of the State of Nevada, gotten in 1952. The story is that back in the day, people (including the Rat Pack) used to gather and head up to the rooftop of Atomic with their lawn chairs, to watch the nuclear test explosions that were occurring miles down the road in the Nevada desert. Joe and Stella Sobchik, the owners at the time, thought it might be a good idea to get a liquor license and serve drinks while folks were watching the tests. They were also responsible for constructing the beautiful wraparound bar downstairs. Today, Atomic boasts an incredible craft cocktail program as well as a terrific lineup of spirits and craft beer; and the atmosphere is second to none, right down to the poster for "Miss Atomic Bomb" - which was actually a thing. Nuclear bombs and Showgirls, anyone? Atomic Liquors– you really shouldn't miss it.

Her bathing suit is a mushroom cloud. Seriously?

Her bathing suit is a mushroom cloud. Seriously?

At that point, our evening with Sam was cut short, because I had to get down to the Strip to Showstoppers at the Wynn Casino (Kerry O'Malley singing Sally Bowles and Mama Rose, I mean COME ON) - also I may have ended up getting hammered at the Blackjack table later, but all in all, for a short visit, it was a very productive one. And we have Sam to thank for it.

Our advice: The next time you visit Vegas, definitely check out the big casinos on the strip, but get off the strip as soon as you can. Go see the Old Vegas, and find the nooks and crannies. And check back here before you go - you never know what we'll have for you.

And, we'll see you next time. Cheers!