Velveteen Rabbit – Where Locals Can Dress Casually and Drink Snooty Cocktails Created By a Hipster
Located in the shadow of the Stratosphere, a new bar is sparking curiosity. Tucked between the local, Downtown thrift shops and tattoo store fronts that glow with neon is The Velveteen Rabbit. A drive from it’s newer neighbors on Fremont East, this establishment has chosen a different crowd to impress. Expertly designed, the bar seems to be catering up spirits for the First Friday crowd, art-seeking locals who are okay with few frills and fluff on Main near Charleston.
The bar opens up under an illuminated sign and a teal rabbit head. It’s wooden facade is sleek and modern, sticking out among the large windows of it’s second-hand neighbors. Allow your eyes time to adjust because the interior is dimly lit with industrial-style bulbs; hanging like pendants from an unfinished ceiling. It’s larger than it looks from the outside, bar hugging the left side wall, plush couches and chairs snuggly to the right.
Pull up a barstool and take a look around. The simple decor leaves a strong impression. Beers on tap flow from golden hands that reach up toward the weathered steel ceiling. Industrial, but not cold, the environment looks purposefully unfinished. Beams are visible throughout and the floor is painted concrete. But the cold, hard elements are strangely balanced by re-purposed elements you may find in your grandmother’s antique living room.
Ingredients for special spirits are kept in an old china cabinet behind the bar. If you look closely, you may spot a pitcher or two dimpled with the style from the 1980’s. Seating is plentiful, so if the bar isn’t comfortable, pull up a chair or couch. They’re reupholstered gems from a time since past, but they’re comfortable and clustered to keep your party together. It’s an eclectic design, some of the walls have painted patterns, others a doodle-inspired wallpaper.
You can even interact with one of their accent walls. Painted with a wash that makes it look like printed concrete, the pattern is programed to blend with a projection from the ceiling. When you’re not looking, a woman will appear…casually smoking a cigarette and blowing it into a million light particles that will follow you along the stretch of space.
It’s a unique design element, but takes up a considerable amount of space if the place fills up. The space was moderately full when I sat down for a few drinks, and for a Friday I thought that was odd. But, I hear that weekends fill the space to capacity, something to consider if you’re avoiding the crowds.
This is a place to have a few strongly-made drinks with recipes dreamt up by the creatives behind the bar. My bartender, dressed like a model from an Urban Outfitters catalog (skinny jeans and all) was thrilled when I chose the “Season Punch by the Cup”.
“Oh! I made that at home,” she told me.
It was an oddly delicious blend of strained beets, rosemary, gin and a few other spirits to make it taste fruity. It was a decent size, and garnished with another sprig of Rosemary. The punch wasn’t so strong that it was burning my throat, but one of them would have been plenty to forward my night. If you’re looking for a man’s drink, “The Crucifix in a Deathhand” could be the cocktail for you. A blend of Irish-whiskey, absinthe and bitters it definitely packs a punch. I also sipped on the “Burning Bush” which came to me with a flaming lemon garnish.
What it did was give a spicy drink a slightly barbecued flavor. I liked it, but it’s not something you can gulp down quickly. I will say that the drink menu is fairly priced. Five drinks cost me and my date about $30 dollars.
A thrifty collection of items and people, The Velveteen Rabbit is not exactly a dive bar. It’s where you can dress casually and relax with a snooty cocktail created by a hipster. You may want to bring your car, because you’ll have to drive to your next destination. Sip responsibly and park on the side. It’s worth a visit or two, but it will not take up your entire evening.
The Velveteen Rabbit is certainly a local haunt. People here seem to know each other, and many belong to the culturally creative scene in Las Vegas. If you want to meet your favorite artist from First Friday, this is probably the place to go…just make sure you can still squeeze into your skinniest pair of jeans.
Velveteen Rabbit is a magical space situated in the heart of the Las Vegas Arts District slated to open May 2013. We are focused on local music, art and performance; as well as a rounded selection of draft and bottled beer + crafted and classic cocktails. – Velveteen Rabbit facebook
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