What it is

Late-breaking telexes from the craft spirit front by Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, columnist for Imbibe, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    by Wayne Curtis

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Field trip: Frankie’s Tiki Room, Las Vegas

Frankie’s don’t give a shit.

Frankie’s don’t give a shit if you think it’s too dark inside. Fuck you if you don’t like the video poker embedded in the bartop. You don’t like that they free pour when making drinks and don’t use laboratory vessels to ensure consistency? Go back to fucking San Francisco. Don’t like cigarette smoke? Frankie’s don’t give a shit. Go to Wendy’s.

Frankie’s is a neo-retro tiki bar that serves up great, postcard-worthy tiki cocktails, and does so in a place that has more of a crusty, neighborhood hangout sensibility than you’d expect in always-slick Las Vegas. It’s close enough to downtown and The Strip that it requires only a few minutes to get there, but it’s far enough away to make it feel like an oasis (granted, an oasis at midnight), providing respite from the constant, conning hustle.

And that makes this pretty close to an authentic tiki bar, even though it’s been tiki only since 2008. It feels like the 1950s here, complete with smoky haze, lack of preening, and a leave-it-at-the-door attitude. It’s also got a killer interior, designed by the grandson of the designer behind Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.  

I sipped a couple of tall drinks, including the Lava Letch served in one of the bar’s fine custom tiki mugs (“collectible designs by some of the world's top lowbrow artists”). I’ll admit the drinks weren’t perfect — a bit too sweet for me, but not bad.

The sound track was distantly Hawaiian, accompanied, more proximately, by a raspy, smoke-tortured laugh. This laugh had character — a long, leisurely roll of vexed amusement that dissolved into thorny rattles of a phlegmy staccato, which floated around the room for a long while, mingling with the cigarette smoke.

You don’t like hearing a laugh that reminds you of emphysema? Frankie’s don’t give a shit. You don’t like it, go to the Mandarin Oriental.

1712 W. Charleston, Las Vegas. 702-385-3110. Open 24 hour.

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Reader Comments (1)

Hell yea!

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLance

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