March 16: Vegas!

Viva_Las_Vegas_1964_PosterIt was on this day in 1911 that a sleepy little railroad town in Nevada was incorporated as a city. The new city was named Las Vegas, Spanish for “The Meadows.” In addition to being a railroad hub, the city was also a staging point for many mining expeditions. However, Las Vegas’ fortunes didn’t come in until 1931 when the state legalized gambling.

The first Nevada gaming license in was given out on March 20, 1931 to the Northern Club on Downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street. Shockingly, the Northern Club had actually been providing patrons with gambling and liquor since 1920s, when both virtues vices were illegal. The Northern Club is actually still standing, although it now operates under the name La Bayou. Soon, many hotel-casinos started opening on Fremont Street.

Nowadays, Las Vegas’ most famous casinos aren’t located on Fremont Street, but on the Las Vegas Strip. Interestingly, the Strip isn’t within the city limits of Las Vegas, but actually in the unincorporated Paradise and Winchester. The first hotel to open on what is now the Strip was El Rancho Vegas. The 63 room hotel opened in 1941 and its success quickly inspired others to open hotels in the area. In 1942, the Hotel Last Frontier became the second hotel-casino to open on the future Strip. As more hotels opened up on the Strip, organized crime began to take interest and when the Flamingo, partially owned by notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel, opened in 1946 it became one of the first true resorts on the Strip. Today 36 hotels, including the Flamingo, line the Strip.

Now, what would Las Vegas be without a little drinking and gambling? Well, let’s combine the two in a cocktail: Blackjack is a fascinating cocktail that somehow balances whiskey, coffee liqueur and citrus.


  • 1 1/2 ounce Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Coffee Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce Orange Curcacao
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

Shake will with ice and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice.

Tomorrow: Blarney


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