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

UPDATE: Check out Jen Reviews: 100 Best Things to do in Vegas - it's a go-to for LV coolness. And yes, this article is included!

 Jimmy and the one and only Sam Merritt.

Jimmy and the one and only Sam Merritt.

Jimmy here, reporting from the desert:

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!

Fear no Beer. Or anything else.

Okay. 

A quick story.  As you all know, THHGs is out here in Vegas these days and soon will be pulling stakes for the Great Colorado Beer Tour and other places east.  We’ve spent a lot of time seeking out new things here, and have happened upon a chain restaurant / bar whose big hook is the loud Classic Rock (yeah!) and many beers on tap.  At any one time, they have 130 - 160 different offerings On The Line, as it were.  (Know what chain I’m talking about?  See pic above for name. Get it right? You win another tour of the THHGs website!)

They also have 2 Happy Hours per day, one during afternoon hours, and another that starts at 11PM, with half price on most pints and most (very large, very tasty) appetizers.  Now, you know that we’re not big on chains here at The Happy Hour Guys, but there is definitely a deal to be had here.  Can you stand Very Loud Music?  A somewhat Fratty atmosphere?  Okay then - after 11, the beer is affordable, so is the food, and both taste extremely good.

But the substance of this entry is not about the place itself, but what I witnessed there the other night.  As I stood there, mouth watering, trying to decide between a Deschutes Black Butte Porter and a Rogue Shakespeare Stout, a person sauntered up to the bar, glanced briefly at the huge menu of different well-crafted beers, looked at the bartender, and ordered a Bud Lite.

(Deep breath.  Count to ten.  Neither one working.)

WTF? Would you go to Baskin Robbins and order Vanilla Ice Cream?

 Now we understand that a huge list of beers you may never have heard of can be incredibly daunting.  But it can also be (try this one out, folks) incredibly exciting!

Variety is the spice of life:  There is a reason that hackneyed phrase holds up over the years.  But variety in booze always seems to be something that people are scared of.  We find over and over in the booze industry that once one selects a particular brand as being “theirs”, they stay with it... for life.  And that’s just sad.  With all these people out there creating incredible beers, wines, and distilled products one after another, why not walk a new path for a moment? There’s nothing scary or distasteful here - if you don’t like it, turn around and go back to the old familiar way; but trust us, these new tastes are not to be missed.  

 Become a Declaimer of Drink.  A Singer of Sauce.  A Poet of Pub Culture.  Build your repertoire of tastes, stories, and phrases.  It is truly an honorable path to walk, easy to start upon, and as in any great philosophy, it is all about the journey.

To that person who ordered the Macro-macro Brew:  We here at THHGs forgive you, just this once.  But it is so easy to amend your ways:  Try something new!  You will not, will not, will not regret it.  Cheers!