Friday, February 25, 2011

Escape From Douchery, Part 2: The Griffin Bar

Any self-respecting indie scenesters that do end up in Vegas usually end up in Downtown. It probably has to do with the fact that the Casinos are older, containing the last hints of the old-school Vegas cool that proto-hipster Frank Sinatra embodied, mixed with the utter dive-bar sleaze of some of the places on Fremont. I mean, seriously...have you ever been to Glitter Gulch? It's not a pretty sight, but it's also kinda beautiful, in it's own depraved way.

The point is that, to the alt-crowd, something about Downtown Vegas feels more "real" (to use the preferred hipster term) than anything happening on The Strip. And while Fremont Street doesn't feature fake versions of the Statue of Liberty or Trevi Fountain, somehow it's got some cred even though a massive video screen plays footage of jet fighters and the American flag overhead. They probably tolerate the whole thing ironically, but tolerate it they do.

After the Vegas-tolerating hipster places some bets at The Golden Nugget, many of them will make a pit-stop at The Griffin Bar, just off the Fremont Street Experience. Once you step into this cool and classy watering hole, you'll see why it's become a mecca for cool kids in the know.

The bar has a cozy vibe, with dim lights and a warm atmosphere created by dual flickering fire-places. Unlike most Vegas bars and clubs, comfy leather booths provide seating for all, not just for show-offs paying for bottle service.

The bar serves up expertly mixed cocktails and an interesting selection of beers, all at reasonable prices. Most importantly, the jukebox is a music-lover's dream, as its stocked with a perfect mix tunes from of the moment buzz-bands, indie powerhouses from the last decade, 80's Brit rockers, electro-dance tunes and everything else under the sun (including earnest arena-rock ballads that everyone pretends they only like ironically). Prove your mettle by picking the perfect group of songs at the jukebox, but be ready to face the judgement of  the crowd.

If the place sounds like it belongs on the East Side of Los Angeles and not in Las Vegas, that's because there actually is a Griffin Bar on Los Feliz Blvd, just a block away from hipster mecca The Bigfoot Lodge.

The Vegas version of the Griffin also has a second, smaller room where a DJ spins every night, playing a much cooler mix of tunes than you're likely to hear in one of the big nightclubs built for the thronging masses. It's a great space to sit against the wall and bob your head, or actually get on the floor and dance... if you're not too cool, that is.

So if you're looking to run into any of the people who frequent The Silver Lake Lounge, Cafe 101, or (the sort of dearly departed) Spaceland while you're in Vegas, you're likely to find them drinking tasty cocktails and craft-brews at The Griffin.

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