For much of the last two years, Anthony Partridge could be spotted running between Fremont and Sixth streets, ferrying basil, mint and other cocktail ingredients between venues including The Laundry Room inside Commonwealth and the bar that formerly operated as 365 Tokyo in Inspire. Over time, Partridge has developed a reputation for being the “secret bartender,” that is, the part-time guy who Downtown bars would call when they needed someone to slip in and put out solid drinks at the area’s speakeasy-style establishments, and it has earned him a loyal following. Now, after a six-month sojourn as lead mixologist at RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room in Mandalay Bay, Partridge has returned to his roost at The Laundry Room, where he now slings full-time as lead barman.
Named for its location, which was the former laundry facility of the El Cortez across the street, the intimate 300-square-foot space comprises just 23 seats. It’s quite different from other bars in the area, for, as Partridge relates, “No one comes here by accident. You have to know you’re looking for this to find it. It’s a cocktail experience in your eccentric grandma’s living room.” The room is reservation-based only, which are received via text, so the idea is that at some point, someone who has enjoyed the experience (and abided by house rules such as no texting, photos or PDA) will pass on the number to a friend who will go there and act in the appropriate fashion for the venue. Although it is possible to find it online, information is more readily available by word of mouth, which is how people have largely been discovering The Laundry Room since it opened in 2012.
Partridge grew up in Las Vegas, arriving at the age of 7 when his parents brought him from England “kicking and screaming,” he says. While earning a degree in 3-D animation and digital media, he bartended in a tropics-inspired casual restaurant and discovered that making cocktails truly is his happy place (the other being a CrossFit “box”), and he has spent the 17 years since then behind the bar, much of it on the Strip at venues including Dos Caminos in The Palazzo, Mandarin Bar in Mandarin Oriental, La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway in Wynn and BLVD Cocktail Company at The Linq Promenade. “I find more variety of taste, smell, texture, color and presentation via cocktails,” Partridge says. “And showcasing the culinary side and presenting an elevated experience to drinking cocktails is a chance to ease the intimidation some feel toward cocktails.”
“Even our guests are better. They don’t slobberingly order another vodka cranberry while harassing the neighboring bar guest. They come to experience an atmosphere that harkens to a lost time.”
The Laundry Room has a cocktail list that is unique to the venue, but there are nights when 9 out of 10 drinks will be off-menu, oftentimes made up on the spot by Partridge, allowing him to flex his creative muscles. When asked about his favorite concoctions to make, he responds: “The best cocktails always seem to be the ones that are introduced to someone looking to stretch their palate or ones that showcase the flexibility of a base spirit. It gives me the opportunity to explain in a culinary sense what goes into a cocktail.”
Partridge could easily make more money working on the Strip, and he has, but he prefers his Downtown locale, where he has access to better spirits rather than the 19 vodkas that do nothing other than, he says, “fritter away in a multitude of juices and cloying syrups.” He also prefers his DTLV clientele: “Even our guests are better. They don’t slobberingly order another vodka cranberry while harassing the neighboring bar guest. They come to experience an atmosphere that harkens to a lost time, where a bar is a bar for a bar’s sake.”