Todd English P.U.B.: A college bar for grownups

CityCenter’s newest watering hole is a party bar, but it’s no dive

Todd English and friends have a toast to celebrate the opening of Todd English P.U.B. at CityCenter’s Crystals on March 16, 2010.
Photo: Denise Truscello/WireImage

Todd English P.U.B.'s grand opening party at CityCenter on Tuesday night had all the makings of a usual restaurant opening — free-flowing booze, mixed crowd of media folk and local celebs, and samplers of shrimp and deep-fried nibbles being bandied about by smiling servers high on that grand-opening buzz.

Todd English P.U.B. Grand Opening

But there was something unusual among the dark suits and passed business cards — adults chugging beer. Not drinking it, not even drinking it quickly, but flat-out glass-raised chugging and trying not to spill one sudsy drop.

Todd English's newest Vegas venture — the Boston-based chef also has an Olives outpost at the Bellagio and is behind the food at Beso at Crystals — is easily CityCenter's most casual watering hole. Centered around a massive marble bar on top of which taps glisten dispensing an ample selection of beers, the restaurant bridges the gap between college bar and modern bistro. The food is stocky and simple, the brews are cold, and the flat screens above the bar are on the night's big game. But there's a polish to the place that most local bars are missing. Todd English P.U.B may be casual, but it's no dive.

That doesn't mean, however, that drinking is discouraged.

Todd English P.U.B. at Crystals in CityCenter on Feb. 21, 2010.

Todd English P.U.B. at Crystals in CityCenter on Feb. 21, 2010.

Spaced evenly around the bar are a series of curvy hourglasses. The low-tech timers serve as both an attractive accessory and a challenge to customers: Patrons are invited to race against the clock — or hourglass, as the case may be — to finish their beers in less than the allotted seven seconds. If you empty your glass before the sands of time are done slipping, it's free. But you can cash in four times per visit; bartenders said the promotion had proved a bit costly for the bar in its first few weeks.

Plenty of grand opening guests took turns chugging already-free pints Tuesday night, but perhaps the most entertaining was Mr. English himself, who took down a Guinness with time to spare while surrounded my similarly fast-sipping friends.

For those immune to the allure of speed drinking, the pub also offers beer pong, darts (with panels labeled with naughty instructions like "shot," "kiss" and "confess") and plenty of spruced-up comfort food, like the tasty pulled-pork sandwiches made from pork that's been brined for three days and then slow-roasted and mixed with a hot house-made BBQ sauce. It's everything you could want from your local college bar, minus the college kids, of course.

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