More Than Just ‘That ’70s Bar’

Corduroy uses its smart, nostalgic menu to transcend time and place

For this child of the late 1970s, mere mention of the word corduroy conjures memories of a shorter, chubbier version of myself toddling down the hall of our apartment building, the groovy wales of my navy, cordovan or mustard cords singing “Vooop! Vooop! Vooop!” as I went. It’s a good memory, with all the accompanying warm fuzzies.

Corduroy, Downtown Project’s latest venture, elicits similarly sentimental feelings. It would, however, be incredibly lazy to just label the Fremont Street watering hole a ’70s/’80s–themed bar and call it a day—it’s so much more nuanced than that. The beverage program created by former Oak & Ivy lead mixologist Chris Gutierrez layers its considerable crafty virtues beneath a nonchalant veneer of throwback cool. They’re all here for the taking: pinkie-up classics, thoughtful original creations, nostalgic shooters, heritage beers and more complex brews like sours and gose.

“The No. 1 thing I’m shooting for here is to be able to serve everybody,” Gutierrez says. And, considering the bar’s situation at the heart of Fremont East, he is assured to do exactly that. “So, beyond this era that we’re hanging out in, my goal is to be able to not have to turn you down for whatever it is that you might like. Your order could read like this: ‘I’ll have a PBR, an Eagle Rare Old Fashioned, a Sex on the Beach and a Yamazaki 12, neat.’ And my goal is to be able to execute that.” Boasting a backbar stocked with everything from the workaday shot to the luxury dram, Corduroy is as likely to become a destination bar and an industry hang as it is already a crowd catchall.

Feeling peckish? Irreverently flipping the bird at your house-made burrata and locally harvested microgreens, Corduroy’s humble eats come fresh from the microwave. We former latchkey kids can revel in Banquet potpies, ham-and-cheese Hot Pockets, taquitos, corn dogs, chips and pickles. So comfortable is Corduroy in its own skin, in fact, it’s almost as if the bar that took over this little slice of East Fremont Street frontage in early August has always been there.

Photography by Krystal Ramirez

Indulge me, will you?

Maybe, just maaaybe, Corduroy actually opened 60 years ago—stay with me, now!—and just stuck around. Bartenders at the Corduroy of the late 1950s prepared de rigueur classics, a strong hangover from epochs past: the Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, Aviation and Stinger. They slid dad beers down the 22-foot-long bar for cheap. Enlivened (or consoled) by a wooden jukebox with a deep, sonorous sound, Corduroy and its guests stuck it out through all the highs and lows of the ensuing decades. Eventually, the bar was talked into offering the hot new thing: vodka, served with ginger beer in a copper mug, and it took off. Today, you’ll have two on-draft mules from which to choose, vodka or rye, made with Gutierrez’s own ginger beer recipe.

Our fantasy Corduroy sailed into the ’70s and ’80s on a glittering cloud of Aqua Net and a raft of suspicious white powdery substances (now strictly limited to the powdered soap in the restrooms). Barman Vedo Pitnjakovic fell for the menthol-cool sounds of Captain & Tennille and never looked back. Gutierrez wore out his VHS tape of Cocktail, and by the early ’90s, Corduroy’s bar program hit its stride. Now, from the Harvey Wallbanger or Sex on the Beach (served, I’ll add, in a Capri Sun–style pouch) to “the Three Teas” (that is, the Long Island, Tokyo and Adios Motherfucker), Gutierrez isn’t just slinging, he’s using today’s highest quality products to rewrite a little beverage history. So let’s have a round of Screaming Vikings (Cheers fans will get that Easter egg), a Stag Party (yes, a Jägermeister cocktail) or a Kentucky Wildcat (like a Colorado Bulldog but more Southern). Every recipe has an incredible backstory—all you have to do is ask.

Photography by Krystal Ramirez

Keep it simple with a boilermaker—a shot of Evan Williams Bourbon or Old Overholt Rye with a mini Miller High Life or a pony glass of draft Genesee Cream Ale—and take it for a wander through the long, narrow space. You might find yourself in a sunken conversation pit or a little wall nook bathed in evocative B-sides coming from that vintage AMI jukebox. Continue past the lounge with its multiplayer video game console and try going through some as-yet-unmarked doors to find the smoking room … or the mop closet. It’s easy to ignore Corduroy’s more modern appurtenances, such as the lightbox (bring your squad, your smartphone and your shades), the selfie mirror and the DJ booth: Just have another boilermaker and marvel at the bubble wall instead.

Returning to 2017 from my little booze-fueled reverie, I find it fitting that Corduroy should be sandwiched between The Griffin and Beauty Bar, across from Evel Pie, just down the way from Commonwealth and the Laundry Room, and around the corner from Downtown Cocktail Room and Mike Morey’s Sip ’n’ Tip. This quintessential neighborhood bar is a vital piece of the East Fremont puzzle. But rather than stand out from the pack, all shiny and new, Corduroy arrives perfectly broken-in like your favorite old pair of jeans—utterly timeless.

Get the complete rundown on Corduroy’s cocktail offerings and their backstories at vegasseven.com/sevensipscorduroy.


NAME: Corduroy

SERVING: Classic and original cocktails as well as craft and lowbrow beers in an irreverent, high-energy environment that borrows liberally from the rock ‘n’ roll scene of the ’70s and ’80s.

OPENED: August 5, 2017

WHOíS BEHIND IT: Downtown Project

DID YOU KNOW: Upstate New Yorkers, rejoice! Corduroy is the only bar in the city to offer Genesee Cream Ale on draft.

LOCATION: 515 Fremont St.

HOURS OF OPERATION: 4 p.m.-4 a.m. Wed.-Fri., noon-4 a.m. Sat.-Sun.

CONTACT: 702-553-2548

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/corduroydtlv

TWITTER: twitter.com/corduroylv

INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/corduroydtlv

Get the complete rundown on Corduroy’s cocktail offerings and their backstories at vegasseven.com/sevensipscorduroy.

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