Serious Drinking

There’s no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty, and then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.William Faulkner

Do you like to drink alcoholic beverages?

I do.

Do you enjoy a wee dram of single barrel malt Scots whisky on occasion?

So do we.

Or how about cask-aged bourbon, obscure Belgian ales, and rare tequilas? You like those too don’t you?

Of course you do. (In moderation of course.)

And when you’ve had a hard day, don’t you get a hankerin’ to slake your thirst with the best booze in the business?

Let’s face it, who doesn’t.*

And let’s face something else shall we? Sometimes, finding interesting, hand-made, artisanal, top-shelf libations in our big fancy hotels and restaurants isn’t that easy. That’s because the big boys are at the beck and call of the big distributors, who think Grey Goose and Jack Daniels are just fine for everyone (and their bottom line).

So if you want to try some impossible-to-find American spirit, or just want to know what an Islay scotch tastes like, you’ve probably been frustrated in many a Vegas restaurant, haven’t you?

Of course you have. Because most of our better hotels, bars and restaurants have a hard time justifying the shelf space, overhead and employee training required to combine both quantity and quality in the spirits they keep in stock. So even the best bars keep a few old reliables on hand (Dewar’s, Johnny Walker, one of the Glens,** etc.) mixed in with some of the rare stuff to satisfy the aficionados. Occasionally, you’ll come across a restaurant bar (Picasso is one), where they have a large selection of the rarest, best stuff (scotch, for example), and a barkeep who can pour it with aplomb (in Picasso, it’s Jason).

The Freakin’ Frog has solved that space problem by devoting an entire room on its second floor to top shelf spirits (downstairs is the domain of beers and ales), and it’s a must stop on any compleat imbiber’s alcoholic education. There you find a bounty of booze that, no matter how much you think you know or like about a certain spirit, will keep you occupied for an evening (or a lifetime).

Of course it helps if owner Adam Carmer is in da house, ‘cuz he knows more about booze than anyone we know who isn’t an alcoholic.

And once he gives you a guided tour of The Devil’s elixir, you’ll be tempted to over indulge — which misses the whole point of tasting the subtle (and not so subtle) differences between whatever poison you’re sampling.

He’s not as deep in small batch rums (rum is the new vodka, haven’t you heard?), but that’s only a matter of time. Carmer scours the trades and the conventions and the world for unique, smallest, artisanal spirits (but keeps the Four Roses on hand for you film noir fans out there). The setting on the second floor ain’t exactly tres luxe, resembling a a hobbyist’s attic more than anything else (which is pretty much what it is), but the bare tables and chairs send the message that it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, and nothing but conversation distracts from the contemplation of the distillation process, taken to its highest art.

The Frog also serves food that is on caliber with the food at most bars. We at ELV suggest digesting elsewhere before heading here for a nightcap.

* “The trouble with not drinking is, when you wake up in the morning, that’s the best you’re gonna feel all day.” – Frank Sinatra

** Swingers (1996)


4700 South Maryland Pkwy.

Las Vegas, NV


5 thoughts on “Serious Drinking

  1. A few weeks ago Adam was kind enough to give myself and a few friends a guided tour of the upstairs as well as the cooler downstairs. He broke out some samples of rare goodies as well for us to taste. He sure knows his stuff and is quite passionate about it.

  2. That must have been fun. Say hi to Mr. Strip Podcast for us this week. I’m with these crazy people in California often referred to as “family” for Thanksgiving. :-(

  3. Isn’t this the guy who had a hard time paying his employees at the barbeque across the street from early this year? Having that reported in the Sun has left a bad taste in my mouth about frequenting one his establishments.

  4. Re: post #3 – hmmm, interesting. I just went to the Sun website and searched Freakin Frog. The article you mention was there, “Restaurants in a time of struggle”. Very eye opening to say the least.

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