1 First impressions are golden. At Golden Nugget, the first impression when entering up the escalators from the parking garage is the cool, new Rush Lounge, with live acts heard before the chic bar and gaming area is seen. Opened on the last day of 2011, the lounge was one of the first improvements in Landry's $150 million overhaul of what was Trump Marina. It does not disappoint as a low-key location with a stylish decor and comfortable environment.
2 There's a wealth of entertainment. Live performers take the slightly raised stage at Rush seven days a week. Acts start at 8 p.m. and go past midnight on weekdays, while the show begins at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and goes to 2 a.m. or later. Expect a collection of classic covers of everything from oldies to modern pop by singers, duos or bands each night.
3 Feel free to watch a game or play one yourself. There are a bunch of brand-new flat-screen TVs surrounding the bar that regularly show all sorts of sports, making it a perfect venue for NFL Sunday, college football bowl season and March Madness. If you came to be a winner yourself, there are tables in the gaming pit area that are open 24 hours a day, as well as video terminals embedded in one of the two bars.
4 Looking for a sure bet? Try any of the bar's signature drinks, all of which feature gaming-themed names and some creative mixology. You could throw some money on the actual Blackjack table, or you could drop $9 on Black Jack, the bar's version of a Sarsaparilla, with Jagermeister, Stoli Vanil vodka and Diet Coke. Or you could get yourself a Diamond for $12, one of several signature martinis, this one with Hangar One spiced pear vodka, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, a splash of lemon juice, pear puree and Chambord liqueur.
5 Now, I'm not saying you're a gold digger, but if you or someone striving for your affections is so inclined, the lounge has several tables to reserve for bottle service. Bottles start at $175 each.
Heard on a Monday night: Renowned A.C. lounge performer Beth Tinnon, who regularly performs Mondays, played four sets with her back-up singer and guitarist and sampled a little bit of the old with the new, playing "Stir It Up" by Rihanna, "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas and a medley featuring the chorus of "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Scene at midnight: A few couples, aged from their 20s to 40s, sat around the bar chatting closely while listening to the performers and the mix of play over the speakers in between sets. A group of older women sit around a low table in leather seats and chat, clapping at the end of each song. The gaming tables are filled with people of all ages and ethnicities, and their friends and family sit on the plush couches nearby, sipping drinks tapping their feet to the music.
Club Owner: Golden Nugget
The look: In one room with a divider in the middle, the bar is contiguous with the casino floor but also set apart by walls and dark curtains. The main bar is circular, made of wood, metal and topped by white marble lit from beneath. In the middle is a tower of bottles with track lighting. The floors are a mix of dark tile and carpet made of varying designs and colored in earth tones, which match the leather furniture. The gaming area has several tables, its own bar with gaming terminals and a plush red couch.