The Cromwell is a very precise place. If you’re not gambling or staying at the hotel, or not visiting one of Victor Drai’s clubs or Giada De Laurentiis’ restaurant, it might seem as if the boutique center-Strip property has nothing to offer you. But just because it’s smaller than most doesn’t mean there are no surprises, and just because it’s a remade casino (I’m looking at you, SLS) doesn’t mean there aren’t comfortable hangout spots.
Consider the Cromwell one big cocktail crawl, a cool and stylish place to leisurely sample top-notch drinks and do a little Vegas people-watching while you’re at it. It all starts at Bound, the lobby bar fashioned by global bartending icon Salvatore Calabrese. If you’ve got a taste for classic cocktails crafted with respect to tradition and a little innovation on top, this swanky, compact bar is for you.
Start with the maestro’s signature sips, from Calabrese’s perfect Breakfast Martini ($16)—Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, fresh lemon, orange marmalade—to Robert De Niro’s alleged fave, the Godfrey ($16), a super-smooth mixture of Rémy Martin VSOP cognac, Grand Marnier, créme de mure, lemon and blackberry.
There are no misses on this drink menu, provided you find the flavors you like best. There are classics like the Vieux Carré, stuff you’ve never heard of like the Journalist Cocktail, and whimsy in the form of espresso cocktails. (Never Say Goodnight has Red Bull-flavored espresso, a frightening concept.) And Bound can get lively, too; on my most recent trip, a cheerful blonde requested “Billie Jean” from the dandy cello/violin duo doing funny takes on much more recent pop songs, then forced a much younger, tank-topped spring-breaker to dance with her. Oh, Vegas.
Bound also offers a menu of choice snacks from Giada, but it’s better to head up to the Food Network superstar’s own spot; there are more great libations you won’t want to miss upstairs, like the round and lovely Flash ($15), with Jameson Black Barrel and Amaro Braulio, and the fruity, spicy Barbarella ($15) with Tanqueray, orange-spiced ginger beer and basil foam. You might have noticed the drinks are mostly named after films produced by Giada’s legendary granddad, Dino De Laurentiis, and once you realize that, it’s impossible not to order the Destroyer ($18), the Conan-inspired concoction of Clase Azul Reposado and lots of fresh tangerine.
Giada is still a tough table, but the bar stretches farther around the room than you think. Sitting here, or in the lounge, affords you anything off the restaurant menu and great views of one of the hottest dining rooms on the Strip—and the Strip itself.
Wrap up your evening of imbibery with whatever you want at Interlude, Cromwell’s quintessential casino bar. There’s a short bar with TV screens on one side, but relax in the lounge on the opposite side beneath red-fringed lamps, with leather-wrapped servers at your disposal.
Interlude’s cocktail menu, heavy on Champagne and sweetness, doesn’t quite measure up to the other two, but it doesn’t have to. A great crawl always closes with your favorite drink, and Interlude is ready to make exactly that, so skip the goofy-fun Julio’s Hooch Juice ($17) in favor of the simple, Negroni-esque, bourbon-for-gin Boulevardier ($15), or maybe as dessert, the Velvet Rosa ($16). It blends dry rum with peach purée, cranberry and a splash of Moët. Sounds like a nice closer, right?