Atomic Liquors

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is a new city by American standards, an icon that was once a desert outpost, meaning that centuries-old dive bars are not just hard to come by, but impossible to come by. Atomic Liquors represents the early days of Las Vegas’ rise, holder of the first tavern liquor license in the city, making it the oldest standalone bar in Vegas. Dive bars often have colorful histories, but Atomic Liquors is noteworthy even by those standards, opened as a café in 1945 before transitioning into a liquor store and bar in 1952 under its current name. With its location on the fringes of the city at that time, the chief calling card of the Las Vegas dive bar was its rooftop view of the Nevada Test Site. Yes, this is a dive bar that rose to fame because people could grab a drink and catch a mushroom cloud.

Understandably for a dive bar on the fringes of Las Vegas for decades, Atomic Liquors has seen all comers, including sets of celebrities that include the Rat Pack and others. Barbara Streisand frequented the Vegas dive bar so religiously that a seat at the bar was christened as hers. Relatedly, pop culture has visited Atomic Liquors a handful of times, including scenes from The Hangover, Casino and the original Twilight Zone series. The appeal comes from the story, to be sure, but the massive neon sign out front doesn’t hurt, a calling card that sits in restored glory today.

Joe and Stella Sobchick presided over Atomic Liquors from its inception in 1945 as the Virginia Café until both passing away in 2010. Their son, Ron, operated the bar until 2011 before closing the bar, ultimately selling it to brothers Kent & Lance Johns who spent the balance of 2012 renovating the space with partner Derek Stoneberger. Its reopening came with updated features and infrastructure, though the focus of those efforts was preservation rather than reinvention. Inside, the space has been cleaned up, but original features held over, including bar decorations that include a Geiger counter for obvious reasons. The space does border on swanky, endangering its classification as a true dive bar, but the historical pedigree and impressive backstory are plenty to maintain a must-visit distinction in a city full of compelling attractions.

SFG Note: This is a dive bar directory listing. We haven’t had the good fortune of visiting firsthand yet. When we do, you’ll get a great review. In the meantime, we’ve compiled information to help you make a choice on visiting.

The Basics

917 E Fremont St
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Downtown Dive



Further Reading

  • Atlas Obscura
  • Consumatorium: Review
  • Huffpost: Review
  • Wikipedia
  • Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This