Behind the Bar Snap Shot

The Impossible Vegas Speakeasy

There’s nothing quiet or subtle about Vegas.

So when Rose Rabbit Lie opened at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in early 2014, billing itself as a speakeasy, you could hear the industry’s collective surprise. In essence, the bar isn’t really a speakeasy but it sure is more intimate and craft cocktail–focused than many a Sin City bar.

In its first year, the venue has already morphed from a spot with burlesque shows and dancing on the bar to a craft cocktail bar with live music.

A Speakeasy Serving 1,000 People?

In most cities, it would be challenging to call yourself a speakeasy when your seating capacity creeps over a cool grand. At Rose Rabbit Lie, there is a library, study, music room, swimming pool and ballroom. No cramped underground basement here. Where the venue captures the spirit of early 20th century drinking is in the drinks themselves.

It’s All in the Glass

The cocktails land at various spots of the on-trend spectrum, from barrel-aged, to on-tap, to cocktails housed in multiple flask sizes. Each is well-curated and features seasonal ingredients.

The Whiskey Smash—made with Redemption Rye whiskey and muddled lemon—is a “staple that we change seasonally to incorporate fruit that is at its peak,” says lead bartender Rustyn Lee. One of Lee’s own creations, the Mulata Daiquiri, blends two of his interpretations of the classic: “The first was made with a plum-infused rum and a later [version] done with Creme de Cacao.”

Rose Rabbit Lie’s current take is made with Denizen Merchant Rum and Cherry Heering to add depth while remaining a totally accessible cocktail, says Lee. The One Night in Amsterdam nods at the Netherlands capital with Bols Genever, absinthe, rose and RRL Rose and Wormwood bitters, among other ingredients.

Perhaps more than being an after hours–minded spot like so many Sin City bars, Rose Rabbit Lie is a great place to start off an over-the-top evening with a comparatively uncommon occurrence in Vegas: a well-made drink.

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.