To experience 1923, the first thing you'll need to do is find the place. This isn't a club like XS where the throngs of partygoers standing in line desperately waiting for access sends up a flare as to the venue's location. The 1923 adventure takes place behind a clandestine and nondescript bookshelf tucked into a corner beneath the escalators that lead to The Shoppes at Mandalay Place. From there, visitors have two avenues available to gain admittance: the secret password — which is given out to a select few each night via those in the know — or a cover fee that will run $20. (Update: The cover charge is at management's discretion so you may arrive to find you can enter for free.)
Upon successful navigation through the bookshelf, revelers are transported back in time to a party that looks like it was lifted directly out of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby. A five-piece jazz band headlined by the electric Skye Dee Miles alternates with a house DJ to score the evening in incendiary fashion. And that's just the tip of the entertainment iceberg. Former Girl Next Door and Peepshow starlet Holly Madison and her team of vixens hit the stage for approximately 12-15 minutes every hour for tantalizing burlesque performance that captivated the audience in-between orders of signature libations such as the “Pisco Sour” and “Pamplemousse Drop” (both $13).
With a capacity of 325 people (15 VIP tables), 1923 operates in a space bigger than your average, run-of-the-mill bar, but cozier than a Vegas nightclub. The center bar offers adequate sightlines to all of the evening's festivities, but for those truly interested in the on-stage performances, we'd recommend finding a seat down in front.
Personally, this writer loves the concept. Ever since Secret Pizza opened at The Cosmo, I've found myself wondering when a Las Vegas cocktail joint would follow the same blueprint by creating a drinking establishment that spreads through word of mouth due to its undercover nature. People tend to enjoy possession of shadowy knowledge that few others are privy to.
I'm also a big proponent of enjoying a quality cocktail in dimmed lighting with energetic music away from the Vegas masses. 1923 offers that type of experience in spades. But, what I worry about is the venue's long-term sustainability. Two successful models for Vegas drinking joints operate on opposite ends of the spectrum. The first such locale is the stop-and-drink concept you can find at a place like Rhumbar while the other is the all-night destination you encounter with nightclubs such as Hakkasan. 1923 operates in a space between the two, where it's not going to draw a crowd from the random tourists passing by, but is also unlikely to serve as a place one settles down for the duration of the evening.
The hope is that the current model finds success, because 1923 brings a unique flavor to Las Vegas nightlife through creativity, imagination and a little help from the bootleggers of years past.
Hours of operation: Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. until “the late hours.”