The Back Alley Bar and beyond

Two nights, too many drinks, so many ways this could go wrong

Two shots of Jack Daniel’s will arrive, and then I’m gonna be like slur slur slur f—k!”
Photo: Captain Billy Guns /

Men say the darnedest things …

Friday, May 8, 11:45 p.m.

I’m getting hit on so hard my hair hurts. What did he say?! Something about hybrid cars, lobster macaroni and cheese and sex. Lots of sex. “Slur slur slur drink?” I think he just offered to buy me a drink, or at least that’s what I gather after wading through his waist-deep Boston accent. Right then Downtown Cocktail Room bartender George sets a Sea Biscuit in front of me; I hold the cocktail up with my apologies. Then, undeterred, he says something about the seat next to me. I gesture toward its emptiness, but it doesn’t matter; Jared is already in it.

His next volley brings news of my “hot” hair and my “hot” eyes. Three times he asks my profession, and zero times do I inquire about his, but a great deal am I about to learn about how to best sell hybrid cars in five states “including Las Vegas!” Turns out Jared is the self-proclaimed hybrid-car king of Centennial Hills. I wonder if he saw my hot eyes roll.

“Honey, I’m going to take you to Capitol Grill! There we are, window table, and I mean Wynn-dow! Like, the Wynn, it’s right there! And you’ll be finishing your filet mignon, your garlic mashed potatoes, your lobster mac and cheese or whatever, and then I’m gon’ be, like, ‘Shots!’” He bangs on the bar for emphasis. “And bam! Two shots of Jack Daniel’s will arrive, and then I’m gonna be like slur slur slur fuck!”

I hear nothing after the Jack Daniel’s—we’re on a fantasy date here; can’t I at least have some Gentleman Jack??—except for Jared’s punchline. Weary of this dainty chit-chat, he changes topics, gets serious. “So, what do you do when you’re not making love?” Wha—? “Me, I’m terrible in bed, by the way. You’re going to find out anyway, but I might as well tell you now.” My blank stare must not be answer enough. With a tip of his invisible hat he slides down the bar to a woman in blue, and later to harangue a couple. Apparently he hit up the cocktail server, too, leaving her with a toast. Something about the importance of perseverance.

Good eats. Giant drinks. So why isn’t anyone here?

Saturday, May 9, 9:30 p.m.

This is what happens when a bar opens and there’s no one around to hear it—it crashes with an unceremonious thud. Formerly the Crazy Armadillo Oyster Bar, the pleasant and casual Back Alley Bar opened last Thursday at the Stratosphere. Pub grub, strong drinks, live music, hot-chick staff—all present and accounted for. Problem is, they didn’t really tell anyone about it.


No staff member knows where it is. I point to the DuraTran signs. They shrug. Deducing that something called the Back Alley would be in the very back of the casino, I wander until I come upon the 29 kegs and low-key signage flanking the entrance. Inside the undecorated space, a couple sits at one of the many little cabaret tables facing the stage. A lone go-go dancer bounces to Colby O’Donis’ “What You Got.” The diner counter is empty, as are most the seats not at the gaming bar, but as the band prepares to play, a crowd gathers. So far, the bride-holding-a beer-count is two, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

I need a large, stiff drink. Oh look, they have six! The menu focuses on variants of the Long Island Iced Tea. I select the Texas Tea, with Wild Turkey instead of tequila. Sixteen ounces of it for just $9 is already a deal, but it being Friday, Cindi enjoys her Lynchburg Lemonade along with me as a two-for-one. The food is a steal as well and just what I want before a night of drinking: street tacos for under $2, a bacon-wrapped hot dog ($3.25) and ceviche with chips ($4.75).

The band leads with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” I drain my glass, get a brain freeze and try not to slide off my chair. Heading home much later, after catching Steel Panther (né Metal School) at Aliante Station, I drive by Centennial Hills and many car dealerships. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t occur to me to wonder from which one the five-state car king hailed.


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