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To find the best of something, you have to look for it — examine the candidates, weigh their merits, reach a conclusion. Here, then, four crawls that do just that
Best Signature Drink
A signature drink is a bar’s liquid calling card. So who’s got the most eponym-worthy beverage? The Sparklings Barstaurant’s (8310 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, 702-293-5003) The Sparklings cocktail is a sorority-sis drunk-dial in a glass: peach vodka, Hpnotiq, Malibu rum, fruit juices — and izzat a dollop of strawberry jam in the bottom? — but this punchlike cornucopia doesn’t offer as much complexity (or buzz) as I’d hoped.
Onward to Hank’s in Green Valley Ranch (2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, 702-617-7075), where the stout, potent Hank’s Dirty Martini — made more decadent with blue cheese-stuffed olives — delivers a proper set of cartoon birds and stars to my cranium.
But The Barrymore at The Barrymore (99 Convention Center Drive, 702-407-5303) claims our Best Signature Cocktail crown: This smoky, citrus-inflected whiskey cocktail made with Gentleman Jack, orange liqueur, vermouth and orange bitters, zest and marmalade is classy, complex but jaunty — with an alcohol jolt that grabs my lapels and urges, “Say my name!” Andrew Kiraly
Best Noodle Dish
I know carbs are the new face of global terror, but I just can’t resist a plate of steaming noodles all spiced and sauced up for a night in my mouth. My weeknight go-to is the pad Thai at comfort-food Thai mainstay Komol (953 E. Sahara Ave., 702-731-6542). With a squeeze of lime and a sheaf of snappy bean sprouts, it’s always a reliable pleasure.
But sometimes I wanna party. There’s something hearty, lusty, celebratory about the big-bowled tonkatsu-shoyu (pork broth and soy sauce) ramen at Monta Ramen (5030 Spring Mountain Road, 702-367-4600). Adding pork cutlets is nice but unnecessary with such rich, glistening ropes of noodles. With a glass of cold Asahi, it’s a perfect launch pad for a night of valiant drinking.
But transcendent? Leave that to the combination chow mein with hand-pulled noodles at China Mama (3420 S. Jones Blvd., 702-873-1977). Put aside any fetishes for cultural authenticity and embrace the Westernized dish in this form. The noodles — so magnanimously, comically long, you suspect a prank afoot — achieve this perfect, apotheotic noodly-chewy-firmness that sends my inner carbovore into beast mode. AK
Las Vegas is character-stuffed, from Cook E. Jar goofing in the lounges to Jw Caldwell keeping it real in the Arts District to P Moss slinging Ass Juice at The Double Down. But for some genuinely outsize personalities, we turn first to the weapons-grade eccentricity of Tom Collins — cowboy county commissioner, discharger of firearms, blurter of outrage-ready bons mots (Recent example: Utahans are “inbred bastards”). Other commissioners: peeved by his shtick. Collins: unfazed. With 20 gallons of ornery under that 10-gallon hat, he’s the closest local government has to a wild firebrand.
Like Collins, Sarah Jane Woodall speaks bluntly, though she’s too often photographed naked to be a politician. A local fetish model, writer and marijuana-themed busker, she’s the freest of Sin City’s free spirits — it’s hard to find an adventure she’ll say no to. She’s brash, loud and uncompromisingly transparent about her life’s many strange twists. Get an ear- and eyeful at her blog, wonderhussy.com.
Still, no one in Vegas out-characters the inimitable, irrepressible Lonnie Hammargren. Brain doc, former lieutenant governor and university regent, famous supercollector weird Nevada-history objects — which you can see piling above the fence line at his Sandhill Road home — he is without question the city’s alpha oddball. Scott Dickensheets
Best Public Offical
Southern Nevada doesn’t lack politicians. There are bad ones, good ones and a few who rise to the top, if you define success as the ability to get things done for the city and the state. State Sen. Tick Segerblom is known as the most liberal member of the upper house, but he’s no ivory-tower progressive. It was his efforts that turned a 13-year-old medical marijuana authorization into reality. Segerblom may want to legalize all marijuana outright and ban assault weapons in Nevada, but that doesn’t stop him from working well with some of the Senate’s most conservative members.
Across the capital courtyard, Gov. Brian Sandoval is probably the most skilled politician to ever inhabit the governor’s mansion. Cautious, moderate and possessed of a great sense of history, Sandoval doesn’t hesitate to act against type if he thinks its in the best interests of Nevada: extending temporary taxes rather than cutting budgets; expanding the state’s Medicaid system. He’s dedicated his second term to improving education.
When it comes to looking out for Nevada in Washington, D.C., nobody does it better than U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. This year alone, he made sure the Yucca Mountain project was unfunded; helped get a public lands bill that preserves prehistoric fossils through a reluctant Senate; helped reauthorize the tourism-boosting Travel Promotion Act; helped rescue the sales-tax deduction, mortgage forgiveness debt relief and clean-energy incentives; and got several Nevadans appointed to federal posts. Reid may have lost his Senate majority to the Republicans, but he’s still Nevada’s most powerful advocate. Steve Sebelius