Some Vegas bars are noteworthy for a gimmick, be it flashing lights or mythological sea creatures. Others are noteworthy for their end-of-the-world grit, their last-stop-before-apocalypse watering hole decor. But this bar … has an unofficial $1 value menu.
Just after the poker room and before the NASCAR add-on in the fabulous Sahara Hotel and Casino (currently minus a tower or two) is a little island of happiness known as Brew Corner. The magic combination—$1 beer, $1 shots and $1 hot dogs, with all the condiments you could want—creates its own ecosystem. One that is almost self-contained, considering beer, shots and hot dogs are pretty much all the Vegas breed of human needs to survive.
My stepmom says those prices could draw the homeless. Indeed, I overheard one guy talking on his cell phone about his plans to sleep on the bus that night. That’s right. Overheard. On. His. Cell. Phone. But for folks of less-modest means, the $1 price tag creates a kid-in-a-candy-store feeling. It’s like buying just one more song on iTunes—hard to stop. (Not everything in Brew Corner costs $1, of course, just those three key items.)
I had brought my journalist friend M. with me because he was sufficiently cynical to be a witty and thirsty drinking buddy. As we took our seats in the nook of the bar, the equivalent of a TV sitcom happened around us.
“What’s the name of this bar?” I asked the bartender because there was no obvious signage.
He looked around, but couldn’t find an answer. “I call it the Friendly Bar,” he said with a smile so warm it could melt the recession.
“We call it the Hot Dog Bar,” a patron said.
Sometimes there are special bartenders and special nights with special patrons that combine to form a symbiosis. This was one of those nights.
“What are in the shots?” I asked, no fan of syrupy-sweet elixirs.
“Vodka, triple sec and lime juice. My Kamikazes come with a fourth ingredient.” Sweet Danny from Idaho (according to his nametag) pointed to the sign on the wall that read, “L-O-V-E.”
“I put lime in all my beer,” added the long-bearded biker gentleman to our left. “And in all my women.”
“He must have other women because he doesn’t put lime in me,” said his biker lady.
In response, the loving bartender lovingly gave limes to the biker couple.
An Irish lass to our right interceded, “After six shots, I want to know what he’s doing with that lime.” A line of empty souvenir Sahara shot glasses demarcated her place at the bar.
The bartender gave her a lime for her beer as well. “What the feck?” the Irish lass replied. Her young son was to marry the next day. They hadn’t yet picked a chapel. “You two are a great couple. Are you getting married this weekend, too?”
- Brew Corner at the Sahara
- 2535 Las Vegas Boulevard S., 734-7223
“Ummmm, no,” M. said.
“No, no, no, no, no,” I said at the same time. And as if this settled it, “We live here.”
“Fecking marry her,” The lass insisted. “I’ll sing for you. I’ll be your witness. I’ll sing ‘Danny Boy.’ This is the type of girl you want to marry.” The Irish lady broke out into a traditional Irish wedding dirge. I tried to stop her.
Three verses later, she said, “You know, it would be really awkward if you two weren’t dating at all. Or if this was your first date. But of course, you are together so no need to worry about that.” The Irish lass gave me her six shot glasses. A wedding present? This is the problem with having a wedding chapel and bar in the same building.
“Uhhhhh,” M. and I said and looked at each other and laughed. Awkwardly.
In addition to the biker couple and the Irish wedding party and the loving bartender and the bum with a cell phone, there was also a talkative couple from Santa Monica, and an ambiguously European couple who seemed disappointed in the selection of $1 beer but not disappointed enough to drink something more expensive. There was an Indian guy dancing and singing while the Irish lady’s son (the groom-to-be in an extravagant 420 hat) videotaped.
M. said the entire scene reminded him of David Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks. The show is on my Netflix cue, so I couldn’t yet confirm. But I know Lynch’s style, and the happy absurdity seemed about right.