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West Wing Bar Deep in the bowels of the MGM behemoth lurks a hidden gem, a quiet oasis of refinement and solitude, far away from the madding crowds of lions and strollers and vomiting party girls. The West Wing Bar is tucked away near the northwest corner of the hotel, a bastion of old-school class inexplicably languishing mere feet from the Strip, at the end of an alley behind M&Ms World. The vibe is low-key 1960s bachelor pad — plenty of comfy mid-mod-style sofas, and jazz playing at just the right volume to allow for the lost art of long, rambling conversations. Cheers: Make like a Mad Man with a good old-fashioned Old Fashioned ($12). SJW MGM Grand, 702-891-8521, mgmgrand.com

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Artifice We can’t put a finger on why this place feels so comfortable and lived-in just a few years after launch, but it does. The historic location — in a 1950s electrical supply warehouse also once used as a laundry for the Lady Luck Casino — can’t hurt. Neither does the rustic, artsy interior. And with its huge dance floor/stage/performance space set aside from the main bar, Artifice does a great job of being something to almost everyone. The bar hosts a variety of DJ events, theme nights, artsy classes, spoken word and, yes, live music. We’ve seen everything here from indie rock to experimental jazz, from Tippy Elvis to The Clydesdale. Cheers: Artifice appears a whiskey and beer kind of place, but there’s a small menu of tasty cocktails as well. JPR 1025 S. First St. #100, 702-489-6339, artificebar.com

the broken-hearted. Weekend evenings bring in karaoke and a rowdier crowd. But a loaded housewife doing a wandering-pitch rendition of “Strangers in the Night” might be just the thing to fill any awkward conversational pauses. LTR 3557 S. Maryland Parkway, 702-737-1699

Champagne’s Café

Huntridge Tavern

Champagne’s Café has always felt like the kind of place where two hoods get together to plan a hit in a Scorsese movie — velvet wallpaper, dim lighting, Dino giving way to Creedence on the jukebox. Even if your chat is of a less sinister nature (and let’s hope it is), Champagne’s still makes an excellent backdrop for swapping stories or consoling

We all try to come up with a classier favorite when asked by out-of-towners, but it’s hard to beat the Tavern. It’s a neighborhood bar that on any night of the week could be serving a mess of punk-rock cyclists, a theater group getting out of rehearsal, or a bunch of old-timers barely holding down barstools. More often than not, though, the place will have an empty booth

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waiting and a cold round of the world’s cheapest Long Island iced teas ready to go. Cheers: Don’t make a rookie mistake by ordering anything but a $2 beer or $3 well drink. MO 122 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-384-7377

McMullan’s Irish Pub The home to the valley’s best trivia night (Tuesdays 8 p.m.) is a great gathering spot to get together and catch up over a great pint and a plate of Irish nachos. Hole up in a cozy nook and shoot the breeze, but rest assured, you won’t be forgotten — the attentive waitstaff always seem to know when you’re ready for the next round. JP 4650 W. Tropicana Ave. #110, 702-247-7000, mcmullansirishpub.com

Artifice: Brent Holmes

venue books local and national bands and has a spacious balcony overlooking the Strip. The sound and lights are always spot-on, but the best part is that it’s almost never crowded. This means you can get up close and personal with your favorite bands and potentially even have room to dance. Remember dancing at shows? Cheers: The drinks will probably not rock your world as much as your wallet; go for their $12 strong-pour mojito to get your money’s worth. MO 3771 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-733-7625, hardrock.com

Desert Companion - May 2014  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada