The drink selection includes 15 tiki cocktails, a rotating 20-tap craft beer list and over 90 rums
Las Vegas native Russell Gardner has been in the bar and beer business his whole adult life. He assisted the brewer at Joseph James, owned a contract brewing company, bartended and managed barrooms. Now he’s starting a new chapter in his life by owning and operating his own bar—Red Dwarf.
Rock ‘n’ Roll meets Tiki Room Vibes
Russell describes his brainchild as a fusion of a tiki room and a dive bar that serves craft beers and pizza. He says, “If I was a bar, this is how I would look—punk, rock and roll, divey, but nice.”
The Red Dwarf owner asserts that he wanted a true neighborhood bar that’s not a chain where people hang out and feel comfortable. The neighborhood is called Winchester, and the bar is situated at 1305 Vegas Valley Dr., which is just east of Maryland Pkwy. and a bit north of Sunrise Hospital. He chose the name because he’s always liked two-word bar names. It’s also a nod to a Detroit legendary devil.
The décor checks a lot of boxes, as it is a unique mishmash of music, history, nautical steampunk and tiki. There are hanging tiki lamps, vinyl records and jackets from several music eras sealed into the bartop. Also paying homage to vintage music, this local bar includes Las Vegas concert flyers dating from the 1950s to present day. The nautical steampunk inspiration is present in their draft system, which is in the shape of ship steam pipes.
Drink Rum like Jack Sparrow
The main components of the beverage menu are tiki cocktails, a significant rum collection and craft beers with about 50% local representation.
More than 90 rums are available and the collection is curated by Jason Simplot, who is reputed to know as much about rum as anyone in town. Simplot previously worked at the renowned Rumba in Seattle (which boasts the second largest rum collection in the US). The rums are priced between $8 to $50 per shot and range in age from young to 25 years old. This liquor collection mainly features rums that are unlikely to be served anywhere else in the valley. The spirits hail from all over the world, such as Paranubes Oaxacan from Mexico and Four Square from Barbados.
The eclectic bar serves 15 tiki cocktails priced from $10 to $14 with entertaining names. These playful libations are mixed with a variety of spirits including rum, vodka, bourbon, tequila and gin. A few notable options include:
I Just Blue Myself – Rumhaven Coconut Rum, Blue Curacao, cinnamon, coconut, pineapple and lime
Trinidad Not My Real Dad – bourbon, Angostura Amaro, orgeat, ginger beer, bitters lemon, lime and Absinthe
Humuhumununkukuapua’a – gin, orgeat, lemon, pineapple and bitters
Don’t Worry, Beer Hoppy
With Russell’s background, it’s not surprising that their continuously rotating 20-tap craft beer list accounts for roughly half of the bar’s sales. The brews are superb, and like the bar, many of the selections are unusual and different.
During my recent visit, I found Able Baker Pineapple Ka Pow Sour, Bad Beat Fresca Fiesta (a prickly pear Gose aged in a tequila barrel) and Juxta Nomad Pie Fighter Banana-Coconut Cream Pastry Stout, all local brews. There’s also Dwarf Piss, an all-malt light, clean lager made locally by Astronomy Aleworks that can only be found at Red Dwarf. Prices are reasonable with the Dwarf Piss only $4 a pint and others mainly $5-$7.
‘Another One Bites the Crust’
This quirky hangout could stand alone on its bar offerings, but it’s also become a destination for its well executed food menu. The scratch kitchen churns out wings (in varieties of mild, hot, hot BBQ and spicy garlic honey), a Caesar salad and Detroit-style pizza, which features a 24-hour fermented light, fluffy, crispy crust with toppings under the cheese and sauce on top. Many of the faithful customers come just for the pizza.
Guests may experience distinctive sort of pizza creations during the weekly Sunday Surf brunch from 11 to 4 p.m. Dubbed “Kinda Pizzas?!” They offer four variations with the same pizza dough, including It’s A Pizza Bagel—light and fluffy instead of bagel dense and topped with everything seasoning, cream cheese and egg drizzle; and Bananarama—sweet, similar to French toast with brown sugar glazed ham and banana brown sugar spice glaze.
There’s no happy hour, BUT an excellent deal is the lunch special Monday through Friday from 11 to 4 p.m. offering a cheese pizza—easily feeds two or one extremely hungry patron—and pitcher of DwarfPiss for $20.
Feast on A Rockin’ Brunch
Music is an integral part of the vibe, with live bands covering a wide range of genres performing about once or twice a week. Thus far there have been garage, blues, rockabilly, SKA and heavy metal bands; an old-time burlesque show; and surf rock bands playing throughout the Sunday brunch.
Oddities and Ends
Speaking on what makes Red Dwarf stand out, Russell said, “We are a bar that does a lot of different things that other places haven’t tried to do, that people think don’t go well together, but here they all go together like it was always meant to be that way.”
The fun, unconventional ambiance extends to the restrooms. The men’s room is decked out with a collection of vintage surveillance cameras on the ceiling with lenses aimed at the urinal. And the women’s restroom is fancied up with a vintage picture that plays bird chirping sounds while a guest answers nature’s call.
Pretty much everyone’s favorite bartender is Sarah Ryan. After spending more than a few seconds with her, it’s easy to appreciate her cheerful and pleasant demeanor, which is proof that she does indeed enjoy working here. Commenting on why she chooses to work here, Sarah says, “I feel I can be myself here, and it’s cool to work at a place that I’d want to hang out at that’s in my neighborhood.”
Red Dwarf’s tiki and food menu on their Facebook page. The neighborhood bar and restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Looking for another unique spot like Red Dwarf? Grab a cold one at Beer Zombies in Boulder City.