When you say Las Vegas, the very words will conjure different perceptions for different people, and most of them will undoubtedly be accurate. Some will envision the negative; that Vegas is cheesy, corny, and truly over the top. Others will see the great positive; that Vegas is cheesy, corny and truly and over the top. Regardless if your own perception about Las Vegas, one thing is for sure, it truly has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for dining, activities, social life or scenery, it’s all there in this little city in the desert. If you can’t find something that appeals to you, then you haven’t started looking.
If you’ve already taken on the mission of walking in James Bond footsteps, then we can assume two things come to mind when you think of James Bond and Las Vegas; First, that James Bond visited Las Vegas in the film, Diamonds are Forever, and second, that Las Vegas is also one of Paul Kyriazi’s favorite places for living the James Bond lifestyle. As we all know, Kyriazi suggests many things one can do to upgrade your lifestyle, but the one and only place that he advises visiting to live like James Bond, is Las Vegas.
Like many Bond locations, Las Vegas is a place where classic meets modern; where kitschy meets contemporary. From the historic Circus Circus, to the massive Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino, the Bond-related attractions are many, and will always include a good meal, some gambling, and of course a few martinis.
Classic Las Vegas
But, where to begin? Back in time, of course. And the best place for that is Fremont Street.
Before the Las Vegas strip that we know today, the most famous avenue in America’s Playground was Fremont Street. This is where you would see places like the Golden Nugget, the Horse Shoe, and ‘Vegas Vic,’ the tall, neon cowboy that waves continuously to visitors.
Fremont Street is also home of one of the most famous James Bond car stunts, which is also known as one of the biggest bloopers in the Bond films. James Bond is at the wheel of a Ford Mustang as he’s pursued by the Las Vegas police, and turns down a narrow alley, past a ‘one-way’ sign. With no other way out, Bond puts the car up on two wheels before entering a narrow passageway; the right two wheels. Because of a miscommunication, the Mustang emerges from the alley on the two left wheels, adding up to a better piece of Bond trivia than actual stunt.
So if you’re in the mood for some James Bond film sightings, as well as some classic Las Vegas, then Fremont Street is a great way to start. Bond’s Mustang exits the alley right in front of the Pioneer Club, at 25 East Fremont Street.
Fremont Street has been upgraded to keep up with the changing times. To maintain their fair share of visitors, the entire street was enclosed by a magnificent light show which stretches across the top of the avenue, entertaining visitors from dawn til dusk. It’s truly something to see. So for the spectacle, and for some great single-deck blackjack, definitely check Fremont Street at least once during your visit.
For more James Bond location spotting, you can always check out the Circus Circus Casino, where James Bond stayed in Diamonds are Forever. The motif of the Circus Circus needs no explanation, as Tiffany Case makes her way through the carnival attractions, wins the stuffed elephant, checks out the freak shows as she makes her way through the casino. Don’t expect too much from the Circus Circus today. Some might find it a classic, while others will just find it old. But if you’re in the mood for some James Bond nostalgia, definitely pass through the Circus Circus on your way to the Strip.
Del Frisco’s and the “James Bond Table”
After some location spotting, you’ll probably be ready for a good meal.
On a recent visit, I kicked off my last night in Vegas with dinner at the Del Frisco Steakhouse. Not only is Del Frisco’s a superb five-star restaurant, and not only does it feature an amazing James Bond attraction, but you have to admire any steakhouse who’s tag line is, “Do Right and Fear No Man.” Del Frisco’s has become a ‘must visit’ any time I’m in Vegas.
After starting off with some wine, and of course, a plate of oysters, I decided to go with the double-cut 8 oz. lamb chops. My companions all remarked that their steaks had to have been one of the best they’d ever had. Del Frisco’s offers excellent service and a fabulous ambiance.
But what’s the connection for the James Bond fan? As soon as you’re seated at your table, you’ll notice immediately that the menu has an image of Sean Connery in that classic From Russia with Love pose. Inside the menu reads, “Be sure to ask to see the James Bond table.” Needless to say, I did.
After dinner, we were led to a quiet little room near the entrance, with a rather plain, unassuming-looking circular wooden table. Just as we were wondering what all the excitement was about, our host hit a button. Suddenly, the James Bond theme began to play, as the table rose up and ‘bloomed’ open in a way that looked like science fiction, to reveal lights, and table had transformed into a circular display of eighteen different wine bottles.
Each wine bottle had been etched by hand to represent one of the James Bond films, from Dr. No, through Tomorrow Never Dies. As the owners of Del Frisco’s explained, they purchased the table at a Napa Valley wine-auction for $362,000 in 1997. Today, it’s estimated value is over one-million dollars.
It is quite literally a wine table and a Bond gadget, all in one. It’s so amazing that no description can really do it justice, which only means you’ll have to go see it for yourself. The next time you are in Las Vegas, definitely check out Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, located at 3925 Paradise Road in Las Vegas.
After finishing dinner, and checking out the the wine table, it was time to venture out. So just as we were asking Del Frisco’s to call us a cab, what pulls up in front of the restaurant, but a giant stretch limousine, which was happy to take my friends and I over to the Cosmopolitan. It costs about the same as a taxi and not a bad way to arrive at your destination.
The Vesper Bar
So what was so special about the Cosmopolitan? There was one bar in particular that, as soon as I heard the name, I knew I had to it check out. That bar was called The Vesper Bar. That’s right, a bar that was named after the very first James Bond girl and the classic James Bond cocktail.
The Vesper Bar was the first place we ran into when we walked into the Cosmopolitan. It was not quite what I expected. I had envisioned walking through the casino and into a traditional enclosed room, but the Vesper Bar sits in an open atmosphere; less cozy, but a great place for people watching.
The cocktail menu at the Vesper Bar opens up to that familiar and famous quote from Casino Royale where Bond creates the Vesper. “A dry Martini. One, in a champagne goblet. 3 measures of Gordon’s gin, 1 of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, shake it very well until it’s ice cold and then add a large slice of lemon peel, got it?” The menu reads, “At Vesper we pay homage to the lost art of cocktail craft,” and goes on to list an assortment classic cocktails including the Manhattan, the Aviation, and the Negroni. Of course, for me it only be a Vesper martini, which was prepared to perfection, and with a thin slice of lemon peel.
Incidentally, there are other bars in the Cosmopolitan that have a ring of a James Bond theme. There’s another bar called simply, ‘Bond,’ which is another open air bar near the casino, with a modern motif, and a techno beat. Nothing except the name draws a connection to James Bond. Another bar is called the ‘Queue’ bar (yep, pronounced like the letter “Q”). The bartender at the Vesper assured me that it was only a coincidence, but I’d like to imagine that a hotel casino with bars like the Vesper, Bond, and the Queue Bar, could only have been created by a closet James Bond fan.
The last stop on my Bond excursion was a little disappointing. Why disappointing? My plan was to visit the Planet Hollywood Casino, which was almost directly across the street from the Cosmopolitan. Everyone knows the Planet Hollywood chain tends to be a little touristy and clichéd, but they always have some good movie memorabilia (especially Bond memorabilia), and I was expecting to see the dune buggy from Diamonds are Forever at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
To my disappointment, the Planet Hollywood in Vegas no longer carries any movie memorabilia. Now calling itself “PH,” this casino seems to be distancing itself from its movie-fan roots. It’s strictly a casino with a few nightclubs and lounges. It’s not a bad place to stop, but don’t expect any of your favorite movie memorabilia here.
So while this would seem to be the end of my James Bond themed evening, there was still plenty of gambling to be done. Craps, roulette, and blackjack can be found in any casino in Las Vegas, and because of the exploding popularity of poker, most casinos are now offering poker tables. Aside from the obvious Bond connection, poker can be one of your best bets because it gives you your best odds in the house, as you’re playing other players as opposed to playing against the house.
So my last night in Las Vegas would consist primarily of an excellent meal, a good dose of gambling, and a few well-made martinis, and when I woke up the next morning, I found myself reminded of that other great Las Vegas movie, The Hangover.
Tips for Las Vegas:
• Avoid Hawaiian shirts like the plague. Dress nicely and be treated better than the Hawaiian shirt crowd.
• Best places for upscale shopping: The Forum Shops at Caesar’s, the Fashion Show Mall on the Strip and the Bellagio.
• Use the complimentary monorail that runs between the MGM Grand and Bally’s.
• Worst gambling bets Keno and Coin Push machines.
• Best place for people watching: The Fashion Show Mall and Caesar’s Forum Shops.
• Utilize the bell hops. There is one to take your baggage to and from the car, and another to bring your bags to your room.
• Tip well and be treated well. Tip the house keeping daily. Leave a small tip on your pillow.
• Best places to keep your valuables: the hotel safe deposit box.
• The cheapest way to get around: the shuttle bus.
• The fastest way to get around: taxis.
• The coolest way to get around: a limousine.
• Best reason to wake up early: to see the sunrise over the desert.
• Second best reason to wake up early: for an early jog around the great track of the Las Vegas Hilton.
• Third best reason to wake up early: beat the breakfast crowd.
• Go to Casa Fuente for cigars.
If you’ve never been to Las Vegas, put this one on your bucket list. It doesn’t have to be a long trip, it doesn’t even have to be a week, even a long weekend in Vegas will really hit the spot. Do a little research before you go, because as I mentioned, there’s something for everyone. So plan a little itinerary, but be sure to leave a lot of time to play it by ear.