Rush Lounge serves as the cocktail anchor, with an intimate, well-designed upscale carousal retreat that opened in late October. While making it a point to create a new space rather than a parallel experience from the nocturnal moguls down the way, Rush still offers VIP bottle service—but the pitch to buy is nonexistent. Seats are always available first-come, first-served, but reservations will be accepted should you feel the need for 750 milliliters of bliss. Top-tier champagnes are reasonably priced, and the standard barometer of bottles, Grey Goose, comes in at a reasonable $225. Seven booths line the back wall, and two have the option of a scrim for those who desire discretion.
"Nightlife is a necessity that Downtown was missing," said Saddiq Mir, vice president of food and beverage for the Golden Nugget. "That is starting to change. Rush is different, an upgrade from what you expect. Exuding from the name, it is full of energy, yet it is the perfect plis permitted for those still hacking over the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. A three-piece jazz band finds a corner, adding to the ambiance Friday through Sunday, and phenomenal glass chandeliers accent the ceiling. The main lights seem to have used calla lilies for motivation, and the centerpiece is a sprawling, twisted glass bush growing above the bar. You might consider it a downsized comparison to Dale Chihuly's creation in Bellagio, but much like the Golden Nugget, the art reflects elegance, not extravagance.
"We see ourselves as the pioneer of the rejuvenation of Downtown," Mir added. "There is a lot of buzz right now. It used to be hindering to be so far off the Strip; now it is a positive. We are attractive to both the local and tourist market. We have that Downtown energy, but with the sophistication of a major resort."
A perfect stop for a warm-up libation is Grotto, just 50 yards from Rush. It's in the perfect location to absorb casino traffic, and seats turn scarce as midnight approaches. The old-school mentality resonates here, too, as the bar is one-sided rather than circular, sacrificing seating for sprightliness.
From Grotto you can see what is destined to become a summertime staple. The Dive Bar at the Tank flanks the pool, which soaked up $10 million of the renovation, and provides daytime mischief while also primed to transition into the evening. The water refuge/bar/nighttime hang solidifies the Fremont Street revolution. The pool, which offers an enclosed live-shark aquarium in the center (a tubular water slide pierces through it), also has two tiers of bottle-service cabanas overlooking the space. Couches sprawl out from Dive Bar and outdoor heaters snub El Nino, gracing every cluster of seating. Mir hinted at the idea of adding a DJ, as the bar already stays open until 2 a.m., weather permitting.
"In the summertime people will not want to leave here, I guarantee it," Mir said. "From the restaurant side, with Vic & Anthony's to Grotto, and now with the nightlife, guests will have all they need on one property Downtown." Unless, of course, they want deep-fried Twinkies.