“No extra shots this time,” said the tourist from Austin, Texas, as he handed over his empty 100-ounce tube o’ booze to be refilled.
In Vegas, statements like this are so common, we don’t hear them anymore. They glide under our consciousness like the calming waves of a white-noise machine. Yet I’m writing this column while on a trip home to the Midwest. And in Flyover Country, Rockhouse—a bar that sells frozen daiquiris in fantastically shaped containers—looks exotic.
How do you describe a bar that shifts shapes before your eyes? At one moment, Rockhouse offers the newest gimmick that we superior locals respond to with a knowing chuckle. In the next, it’s this amazing place: Oh my gosh, you can really buy a margarita guitar? And you’re really allowed to walk down the street with it? That’s incredible! What? I can add a second shot for only two dollars? No way! Can you take my picture with it? Will you be in the picture with me, hot bartender lady?
- Rockhouse Bar & Nightclub
- 3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 731-9683
- From the Archives
- Rockhouse hosts grand opening, two and a half years late (3/25/09)
Obviously, both tourists and locals exist simultaneously, and they will forever be locked in a battle of excitement versus apathy. Yet sitting at Rockhouse’s walk-up bar on a Sunday afternoon, I felt the long-forgotten tourists’ thrill come to life in my chest. I absorbed their buzz through osmosis. The bar opens to the Strip, and sweat dripped down my neck as I watched person after jolly person order refills. I wanted a piece of that happiness.
But just as quickly as it came, the joy faded and was forgotten. If not for my notes, I would have remembered the afternoon for nothing more than tourist-watching—rubbernecking of the most distant kind. I could no longer grasp the tourists’ joy directly (perhaps because I wasn’t indulging?). It’s like that youthful moment when opening Christmas presents no longer moves you, and you have to enjoy it vicariously by watching kids get excited. So I did the parental thing and took a picture of the Austin booze boy with the hot bartender.
Speaking of which, the spunky blonde was the perfect rock ’n’ roll chick—the kind who’s hot enough to wear an unflattering baseball cap. She paired the cap with zebra-print shorts, knee-highs, a black tank top and a hot pink whistle to attract passersby. “I love my job,” she said, and I believed her.
There is also a bar/nightclub inside, which the website describes as “the first and only ‘ultra dive bar’ on the Strip.” It’s cool enough as bars go, but in the minor leagues of clubs.
The interior décor is so focused on the sex portion of “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll” that I forgot about music. Thus it took me a while to figure out why pictures of guitar heroes decorated the walls. (Real ones such as Jimi Hendrix, not screen shots of the video game.) Nonetheless, the inside bar didn’t catch my eye the same way the novelty-guitar vending did.
In fact, the 80-ounce plastic guitars of booze are the most distinctive offerings at Rockhouse (and the thing that sticks closest to the music theme). So it fits the natural order that the fastest way to feel like a rock star is to stroll the Strip wearing your alcohol ax.
During one of Rockhouse’s grand-opening parties in March, my friend and I did just that. We formed a “band” with matching pink piña colada-filled guitars. When we took it on the road (a stroll from Imperial Palace to the Venetian), we couldn’t walk a step without somebody approaching us in adoration and amazement. Not bad for never having rehearsed.
And God created Rockhouse
Theory 1: The same way that Dorothy’s house landed in Oz, Rockhouse came from the pixilated land of Guitar Hero and landed—plop—in front of the Imperial Palace. I can only imagine the face on the confused avatar Judy Nails as she blinked, realizing that the lights she saw were not stage lights, but the flashing neon of the Strip. Next she discovered that her guitar was no longer an instrument, but an empty vessel. No other option but to fill it with slushie and sell it.
Theory 2: If you are to believe the bar’s ceiling, God blessed a guitar-wearing Adam with a 100-ounce super yard of life in an improvement on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco “The Creation of Adam.”