Oak and Ivy
In the Container Park
707 Fremont St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Like many of you, when I travel I enjoy checking out the different spots in each city. I especially like finding new places that are moving their city, plus the industry, forward. Las Vegas has long been a city that was geared towards making money by following formulas, and leaving creativity and quality behind. I am happy to say that has changed, and that Oak & Ivy is living, breathing proof of it.
I stumbled across Oak & Ivy one fall afternoon, after judging the World Chili Championships Red Chili competition. After all of the outstanding chili that I had just consumed, I needed a drink to cleanse my palate and cool my mouth. It was mid-day, but my responsibilities for the day were complete, so I began to wonder down Fremont Street to see what interesting places I could find. Upon reaching Las Vegas Blvd., I noticed a sign promoting the opening of “The Container Park”. I remembered seeing it under construction the previous year, and was anxious to see what it was all about, plus the sign said food and drink on it, and that was what I was in search of, so off I trekked. After a quick 2 block walk I came upon the largest fire breathing bug that I have ever seen. It is a welded steel sculpture at the entry of the park that stands about 15 feet high and randomly shoots flames at unsuspecting passers-by.
Welcome to “The Container Park”, a unique plaza made out of recycled cargo containers. The businesses inside are mostly small, the cargo containers are only so big after all, and local. They are focused around a play area in the center, and a stage to the rear that hosts concerts and movie nights. Right by the stage on the left hand side, you will find a welcoming spot known as Oak & Ivy. For me it was a bit of a trip into wonderland, as I went in only looking for a cold craft beer on tap, which I found, but quickly came to realize that this cargo container held so much more. Shelves full of wonderful, mostly American, whiskies, more different bitters than a Don Rickles roast, and wondrous cocktails, some even premade and aging in their own oak barrels, plus a selection of whiskey flights. Ooh la la. While enjoying my beer I was able to engage some of the bartenders in conversation and learn about some of the different things that they do in this small utopia. From special, unique expressions from numerous distilleries, to garden fresh herbs and produce, house made bitters, and a beautiful little device that struck a major chord with the BBQ judge in me, a smoking gun.
I was now in love. The staff could not be friendlier, and they were nice enough to feed my strong curiosities, and walk me through many of the things that they were doing, all while inquiring as to my likes and preferences, and then presenting me with one mind-blowing drink after another. The presentations were exceptional, the attention to each detail highly thought out and explained, each new taste sensation exposing me to previously uncharted territory and opening my mind to all kinds of new possibilities, and greatly expanded tasting pleasures. This may sound extreme for just an afternoon, turned early evening session. I assure you it is real and repeated daily.
I have since brought friends, and while there, made friends, all of whom have assured me that Oak & Ivy is all that and more. As a guy who was born in Boston, I have heard more than my fair share of “Cheers” references to various places, very few of which even came close, but these folks hit the ball right over the Green Monster, all of the way from Las Vegas. That is a serious wallop; Big Papi would be envious.
A major part of the beauty to Oak & Ivy is its small size, because it allows the staff to get very personal with your tastes and preferences, allowing them to create drinks that are designed and executed just for your unique tastes and interests. They create a special environment that makes everyone comfortable, and promotes conversation, sharing, and new friendships, on both sides of the bar. Additionally, they gladly offer bow-tie tying lessons, upon request. A true crowd-pleaser. It is a real find to come upon such knowledgeable, talented, and friendly professionals, especially in a city that can be highly impersonal.
Whether you are a novice to the world of whiskey or cocktails, or a Brand Ambassador, both groups of which are frequent visitors, you will find plenty to keep you surprised and entertained at Oak & Ivy.
“A man has to believe in something…I believe; I’ll have another drink.”
P.S. Since Oak & Ivy is contained in such a convenient self-contained carrying case, if you should stop by and find it missing, you may want to look for a flat bed truck, with a 20-foot cargo container on back, headed to my house. Because if you think about it, shouldn’t every home have its own fully-stocked and equipped cargo container bar, with some of the country’s best bar talent? It makes perfect sense to me.