Las Vegas isn't known for its hidden hotspots. If something gets an ounce of popularity it's marketed to death in one of those "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas," commercials or featured in a movie or television show.
Before you know it, your new favorite Vegas spot is the backdrop for a murder scene on "CSI Las Vegas."
While it may be hard to believe, hidden gems can be found in Las Vegas. Among them is Mandarin Bar inside the Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter.
Mandarin Bar is only hidden because it wants to be. First, it's likely that you've never heard of the Mandarin Oriental. The hotel doesn't have gaming, which is normally an entry point for wandering tourists. Additionally, you won't find a pedestrian entrance on the Las Vegas Strip. You'll have to either drive up to the valet or awkwardly walk around the Crystals shopping center to reach the entrance.
Once you find the hotel, you still won't find any sign of Mandarin Bar until you reach the elevator. The bar is located on the 23rd floor, to the right of the check-in counter.
The modern décor stands out with over-sized leather chairs, sofa seating, a squared bar with a towering liquor shelf and strategically-placed dimmed lighting. The focal point of the room, though, remains the view itself. Floor-to-ceiling windows can be found on three of the four walls, giving patrons an unparalleled view no matter where their seat is.
A live band plays Wednesday-Saturday, adding to the upscale-lounge feel. A group of bands rotate nightly with all coming from accomplished backgrounds. The sounds range from jazzy covers of popular songs to jazz favorites and Latin hits.
The drink menu is filled with tastes that you'll only find at Mandarin Bar, such as the The Mandarin Martini, also known as the Golden Leaf, which pairs up Hendrick's gin, Aperol, muddled mandarin, pineapple, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. The rest of the cocktail menu focuses on high-end spirits usually paired with fresh fruit or fresh herbs. If the menu doesn't satisfy your palate, the bartenders, who are also mixologists, can whip you up a fresh creation based on your taste preferences.
If you find yourself too engulfed in live music and cocktails to make that late dinner there is also a menu filled with light, Asian-inspired bites.
In a city full of see-and-be-seen venues and outlandish behavior, Mandarin Bar provides that rare place to just get away without ever really being away from anything.
-- Review by Justin Lawson