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Venetian Resort Mixologist Juyoung Kang’s Guide to Las Vegas

A mixologist from the Venetian spills on Sin City’s best drinks, bites, and sights—and reveals how and where to capture that “Old Vegas” feel.

The Dorsey Bar at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas
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Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Northern California. He's penned pieces for publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, TIME, and National Geographic Traveler. He's also written or updated more than a dozen guidebooks about Las Vegas. When he gets to travel for leisure, his favorite destinations are Hawaii and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Learn more about him at whalehead.com.

Juyoung Kang has made and poured drinks all over Las Vegas. The 40-year-old transplant from Philadelphia (via Los Angeles) got her start in Sin City behind the bar at the now-closed Comme Ca, moved to Commonwealth (and the Laundry Room speakeasy) downtown, and finally helmed the drink program at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse before landing her current gig with the Venetian Resort Las Vegas.

In this role, Kang masterminds recipes and programming at three distinctly different craft-cocktail bars: The Dorsey, Rosina, and Electra Cocktail Club. Technically, the bars are part of what Venetian folks call the Cocktail Collective—a special outfit that curates cocktail culture at the resort. This means Kang is a great person to ask about where to get the best drinks in Vegas. Read on for her personalized dining, drinking, and sightseeing recommendations, plus insider tips about the must-see Las Vegas spots that many travelers overlook.

Amazing cocktails to try

Guests have a drink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The crystal-draped Chandelier bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.Photo Credit: Eustacio Humphrey / Viator

If anybody knows about good cocktails in Las Vegas, it’s Kang. One of her favorites happens to be one she pours every night: the Penicillin. It’s a whiskey-based drink with lemon and fresh ginger that was invented by her colleague, Sam Ross, and it’s available at all three of the Cocktail Collective bars. Other spots in Las Vegas to get great cocktails: The Chandelier and Ghost Donkey at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Mr. Coco at Palms, and The Underground, a speakeasy below the Mob Museum downtown.

The sights you can’t miss

Visitors at Hoover Dam in Nevada.
Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression as the world's then-largest dam construction project.Photo Credit: Anthony Cruz / Viator

Knowing how to make the most of limited time in Sin City can be a challenge. “I’ve lived here for years and I’m not sure I’ve seen everything there is to see,” Kang says. In addition to the city’s casino resorts, Kang highlights nearby Hoover Dam and Lake Las Vegas as local destinations worth prioritizing (if you have a car).

Best places to eat

Interior of the Chinatown Plaza in Las Vegas.
The restaurants at Chinatown Plaza, with its Tang Dynasty-inspired gate, serves up some of the best Chinese dishes in Sin City.Photo Credit: Kit Leong / Shutterstock

The Las Vegas food scene is growing and changing constantly. “One new restaurant pops up and there are 20 other new ones coming up behind it,” Kang says. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s hard to choose where I go on my days off.” Recently, Kang was “blown away” by a meal she had at Vetri Cucina, an intimate Italian restaurant at the top of the Palms. She also cites the burgeoning Arts District as a good neighborhood for a great meal. Another favorite of Kang’s is Chinatown. “People go there because it’s the only place where restaurants are open all night,” she says. “The reality is that some of the restaurants actually are really good, too.” Specifically, Kang says Chinatown is the site of her two favorite omakase dinners in town: Kabuto and Yui. “These meals are so incredible, so intimate. You can’t have the same experience on the Strip.”

Related: Don't-Miss Dishes in Las Vegas

Local neighborhoods to explore

Travelers hike the Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon provides locals and travelers with ample opportunity for hiking, biking, climbing, and wildlife watching.Photo Credit: Eustacio Humphrey / Viator

Most visitors to Las Vegas never leave the Strip—understandable, considering how much is there. Still, Kang says some of her favorite parts of the city are elsewhere. “Summerlin, to the west, and Mountain Edge, just south of there, are both super popular neighborhoods with great restaurants, bars, and more,” Kang says. In Summerlin, Kang shops downtown, where there's nearly 200 shops. In Mountain Edge—her own neighborhood—she loves a tiny bakery called Coco Donuts. “The owner is Korean and she always has sugar donuts, which I like. They stay soft the next day. That’s so rare!” Other worthy highlights on the West Side include City National Arena, where the Las Vegas Golden Knights practice, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, where Kang often walks her dog. Blue Ribbon Sushi, Hearthstone, and other restaurants inside Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa also are notable.

Where to capture that ‘Old Vegas’ feel

A neon sign in Old Vegas, home to old school casinos, in Las Vegas.
The vintage neon signs lend the downtown area its old-Vegas charm.Photo Credit: Anthony Cruz / Viator

People always seem to ask Kang where to capture a sense of Vegas from the Rat Pack-era of the 1950s. Her answer? Downtown. “You’re always going to meet characters down there,” she says. “Old-school casinos like the El Cortez are great because you can’t find anything like it anywhere else around town.” As for drinks, some of her downtown favorites include her old haunts of Commonwealth and the Laundry Room, as well as Corduroy. Another can’t-miss spot: Atomic Liquors, the oldest free standing bar in the city.

Some of the bars, restaurants, and attractions mentioned in this article may be temporarily closed.

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