Nowadays, it isn’t just about which bar has the best drinks and food. It is also a matter of which bar will offer a new experience. In the case of Atomic Liquors, a bar from off The Strip, has a rich history. It stands out from the rest as it, literally and figuratively, offers a blast from the past considering its humble beginnings. On that note, let’s take a walk down memory lane to learn the story behind the iconic Atomic Liquors, the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas!
THE OLDEST FREESTANDING BAR IN LAS VEGAS
Atomic Liquors started as a cafe called Virginia’s. Husband and wife Joe and Stella Sobchik owned it and it was named after the latter’s mother.
The cafe began operations in 1945, near the end of World War II. Late owners eventually transitioned the cafe into a bar because rationing was still happening at that time. Simultaneously, Joe had also grown tired of cooking.
During the period of the transition, construction of a nuclear site about fifty miles away was taking place. For this reason, it has become a “thing” for people to climb to the roof of the cafe and watch the mushroom clouds while sipping atomic cocktails. People still didn’t know about the dangers of watching nuclear blasts at that time.
HOME OF THE OLDEST LIQUOR LICENSE IN VEGAS
The owners switched the name of Virginia’s Cafe to Atomic Liquors officially in 1952. At first, the owners were only selling alcoholic beverages via take-out. Wanting to improve service, they purchased the “pouring” license of a bar in Downtown that was closing down. As a result, they were able to serve the drinks as well.
The undertaking of the owners opened a new liquor license called “The Tavern License”. As you probably hinted by now, Atomic Liquors was the very first bar to get that license, hence its license was #00001!
AN ICONIC SPOT
Waitresses, dealers, and many other workers loved going to Atomic Liquors because it is away from the crowd. It is for the same reason that many celebrities have become regulars there during its prime years.
Some of the notable celebrities that were spotted in the bar were Barbra Streisand, The Rat Pack, and The Smother Brothers. Barbra Streisand even had a stool that was only meant for her back then. You can still see it at present.
Atomic Liquors was also featured in several films such as “The Hangover”, “Casino”, and “The Twilight Zone”.
REVIVING THE GLORY
By the ’80s to the ’90s, Atomic Liquors was slowly losing its sparkle because of economic-related factors. Nonetheless, the owners remained enthusiastic that the bar will be back on its feet with the right economic conditions. Unfortunately, the owners passed away three months apart during 2010.
Thankfully, though, there were businessmen who saw the potential of the iconic bar. They purchased Atomic Liquors from the son of the late owners. They renovated the bar back to its previous glory, and now, it shines like its neon sign once again.
The bar’s current menu of craft beers is ever-rotating. So far, the bar has already served more than 500 craft beers by tap since it was relaunched in 2012.
GET OFF THE STRIP
While there are many bars along The Strip, it isn’t where many legends were once drinking. The choice is yours. Located at 917 Fremont Street, here are the operating hours of the Atomic Liquors: