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Shut up and drink: Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas turns 30

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P Moss
Kristen DeSilva/KNPR

P Moss at KNPR on Nov. 17, 2022.

Nevadans live in a state that, if you didn’t know better, you’d sometimes think was built yesterday. It’s not always easy to find homes that are older than a decade; we have constant builds or renewals on the Strip; and our roads are being remade incessantly. 

So to find something that’s lasted —and has the scars to prove it— is a real find. Enter the Double Down. 

The Double Down is a bar in an off-Strip location that Maxim, Playboy and Rolling Stone have named one of the best dive bars in the country. The late Anthony Bourdain called it one of the top five bars in the world.  

On any given day, you’ll find dive-bar afficionados —from conventioneers to punk rockers to lawyers— talking and enjoying a bacon martini or whatever’s on draft. 

It has a renowned jukebox, featuring both local punk bands and Frank Sinatra. And it’s décor —you might think it’s haphazard— but it’s a study in chaos art, or perhaps happy accidents. 

And later this month, the Double Down celebrates 30 years. 

The man behind it all is P Moss, though most people just call him Moss. 

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He owns the Double Down here and another one in New York. He also owns Frankie’s Tiki Room in downtown Las Vegas. He’s a musician and he’s written six books.

He said he wanted to open a bar that he wanted to sit in. It took about five years to really get going, but word of mouth made it what it is. 

“I certainly didn't set out to create what the Double Down Saloon is, and looks like today. But not that far from it. Because you open a bar, you create something, and if you're smart, you let it evolve, you let it grow. But you also have to set parameters,” he said. 

It's known for many things; among that is the bacon martini.

"Going way back to the olden days, when it was a popular thing where a lot of high end bars had big, large bottles of vodka behind their bar that were infused with fruit. And I go, 'That's interesting, but you could do better with that.' And I tried ... jalapenos, because I don't care for them. But people loved them. But it tasted awful. So I stopped that," Moss said. "'Why not try with bacon?' And I did. And it was great. And just to be honest, it's not a taste for everybody. It's actually kind of disgusting. But if you use the bacon vodka in a bloody mary, it's the most delicious thing you've ever had. They call it breakfast in a glass. It's delicious."

How’s he feeling about hitting 30 years?

“In the future sometime, when I'm sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, I'll sit back and I'll be proud of all the things, but right now it's just business as usual,” Moss said.

The punk rock aesthetic appeals to a wide range of clientele. He said it’s because they feel comfortable, and it’s also something they haven’t seen before. 

“Especially in this town, they’re used to going to bars; every bar looks like a PT’s. You know, it's got chicken wings, it's got ESPN, it's got your 15 machines, blah, blah, blah,” Moss said. “And that's all very nice. And people love that. And it definitely has its place. But it's not unique. It's not fun. So they come in and they find something that they have never seen before.”

Next weekend, they're having their 30th anniversary celebration with a marathon of events. That's going to include two nights headlined by the Japanese band, The Heiz, and a show with a local act, Thee Swank Bastards, that will somehow incorporate 30 bass guitarists.

On Thanksgiving, they’re hosting the first annual Atomic Mayhem Tee Vee Thanksgiving Turkey Drop. What’s that, you ask?

“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” Moss said. James Mayhem and Hanson Meyer do a lot for the bar, he said. But, they didn’t tell Moss what the turkey drop actually is. “I guarantee you, these guys are involved? It’s going to be fun.”

For event details and more, visit Double Down’s website.

Guests

P Moss, owner, Double Down

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