A rolling stone gathers no moss. In advance of Downtown Cocktail Room’s impending 10-year anniversary in January, and following quickly on the heels of closing The Beat Coffeehouse & Records to make way for Eureka!, Future Restaurant Group’s Michael and Jennifer Cornthwaite are excited to launch a new coworking space and begin construction on a new bar Downtown.
And it will open inside their existing one.
Paying homage to a loyal Downtown Cocktail Room customer who passed away last year, Mike Morey’s Sip ‘n’ Tip is tentatively slated for a December soft opening and late January grand opening in the space that was previously called the Speakeasy and often booked out for private events. Michael plans to continue booking events in the new bar (which he hopes regulars will take to calling “the Sip ‘n’ Tip”), but with DCR turning the big 1-0, he says it was time for a change. “The speakeasy thing in the back has been done so many times now. I kind of want to flip that on its head a bit. That space is underutilized, especially during the week,” Michael says. “I want a broader appeal to a general audience. Take Inspire, for example. You can go in there for four different atmospheres. [With the Sip ‘n’ Tip], I can offer two atmospheres, totally different from one another.”
To reach the new bar, guests will enter through Downtown Cocktail Room as they always have, or through the existing though rarely-used sliding warehouse-style side door from the alley. A small room will sit between the spaces, defining where the pomp and circumstance of Downtown Cocktail Room ends and the intentional urban grit of the roughly 600-square-foot Sip ‘n’ Tip begin. “It’s always nice to feel like you’ve stepped out of Las vegas for a minute. Go through that door and you could be in New York, San Francisco or Portland.” Just don’t call it a dive bar; says Michael, “because a dive bar can’t happen intentionally.”
A 27-foot bar with roughly a dozen seats will dominate the space, running along the north wall that is currently occupied by four large circular booths. The club chairs and cocktail tables along the south wall will, in turn, be replaced by narrow, diner-style booths. There will be a jukebox in the back, and a television screen that, Michael adds, will occasionally show an important game, though with the sound low or off entirely. Look for an understated palette of black, white and brown, and perhaps some brick among the art prints. Says Michael, “I don’t want it to feel like any other place in Las Vegas.”
Offering a counterpoint to Downtown Cocktail Room’s upscale mixology bar, the Sip ‘n’ Tip, Michael says, “will be an ‘everyman’s bar,'” delightfully lowbrow in its offerings, but comfortable and without pretense or protocol. The experience will be “carefully curated, but certainly not controlled,” Michael says. “Imagine that it’s midnight. You get off work. It’s that come-as-you-are hang-out.” Instead of a massive and rotating seasonal cocktail menu, expect a small selection of can beers (“As many locals as we can get”), plus four draft beers and a small, slightly whiskey-leaning spirit array. Instead of fountain sodas, the Sip ‘n’ Tip will offer club service of mixers (to which Downtown Cocktail Food will also be migrating), and both venues will continue to order in food from neighboring restaurants.
“Ten years—[Downtown Cocktail Room] has had a pretty good run,” Michael says, “and I feel we can complement it without destroying what we’ve built.” To start, the Sip ‘n’ Tip’s hours and days will mirror those of Downtown Cocktail Room, and staff will be trained on both venues.
The timing couldn’t be better, too, as there are also reportedly plans in the works for the alley that runs behind Downtown Cocktail Room, Beauty Bar, Le Thai and La Comida to be stripped of its overflowing dumpsters, repaved and turned into a pedestrian event space. While it will cause the area to lose a little of that evocative urban grit, Michael still calls the move a win-win for the businesses that share access to the alley.
As for the name, the Downtown Cocktail Room staff and regulars were shocked by the sudden 2015 passing of attorney Mike Morey, who Michael calls “the quintessential perfect customer,” and who often touted being the only patron to open and close the bar in one sitting. Morey even did a brief stint as a security guard when the bar was in a staffing bind. “He was what any bar employee, owner or manager loves the most, and did everything a courteous and loyal customer would do.” And if Michael or the bartenders should inquire how Morey was doing, he could be counted upon to respond that he was “just sippin’ ‘n’ tippin’!”
For the Cornthwaites, there was no question that even while welcoming the next 10 years, they would christen their new venture with a tip of the hat to the best customer of the last decade.