Kevin Gorham - Downtown Cocktail Room
Even if you're familiar with the downtown area of Las Vegas, you may not be very familiar with Downtown Cocktail Room. Or at least, you may not be aware that you are. If you find yourself on the corner of Fremont St and Las Vegas Blvd, beneath Inspire you will find large panes of dark glass from floor to ceiling. If you lightly push on the left pane, you’ll find yourself in the quiet entryway of the masterpiece that is DTCR. However, if you are a veteran of the nightlife downtown, this low-key, classy joint may already be at the top of your list of favorites.
Being the third bar to open off the popular stretch of nightlife that is East Fremont, Downtown Cocktail Room may as well have their own star on the sidewalk. With many years of trailblazing and modeling the ideal spot for both widely-varying cocktails and unique music, this slightly hidden gem is certainly one to look to for a good time. We pulled up a seat at the bar with Kevin Gorham to learn all about and him and how he found himself behind the bar and menu of this ever-changing establishment.
How many years have you been bartending?
“I’ve been bartending for almost seven years.”
Spirit of choice?
“I don’t really have a spirit of choice. I can drink pretty much anything and I will. It’s just one of those things where my liquor choice depends on who I’m with, what we’re doing, you know all things like that.”
Well in that case do you have a cocktail of choice?
“Same kind of thing. You know if I’m going to a bar where the bartenders are on point, like a quality bar, I’ll have them make me whatever they want to. I cross liquor off the menu if I’m somewhere like a dive bar or I know that’s not their style, I’ll stick with a beer or something simple like whiskey on the rocks. You know, my cocktail of choice changes depending on where we are for the most part.”
Where are you from?
“I’m from Reno, Nevada.”
Did you get your start in Vegas?
“I started off here, I actually never really wanted to bartend until one day, one of my friends who used to work here, she called me up and was like, “Hey we need somebody to barback tonight can you come in and help out?” So I came in and helped, then they asked if I wanted to come back. Before I new it, I was bar-backing every weekend evening for them. And then I eventually kind of saw what bartending was. Before that my perception of bartenders was like Cocktail, Tom Cruise, you know. And that’s not really my personality, that never really appealed to me. But coming here and seeing how we make our own syrups and use our own bitters, our own spirits and stuff, it really showed me there’s a whole other side to bartending.”
What makes DTCR stand out from the other bars on Fremont?
“One thing we do that they don’t do, is we have house music. We have DJs Tuesday-Saturday, so that’s a little different. A few other bar’s menus are seasonal, but we were kind of the first. We’re coming up on our ten year anniversary, we were the third bar to open on East Fremont. It was Beauty Bar, Griffin, then us right after the Griffin opened, so we’ve been around for a good while. One thing I like about what we do here too is, our menu is put together completely by the staff and you go to a lot of other bars with a staff created menu and it says like, “This cocktail was created by this person.” And what that does is put a lot of ego into your drinks and it doesn't really help the guest. So when a guest sits down, unconsciously you’re going to recommend drinks that you like even if you don't think you are, because you created the drink and you have a lot of pride behind it. Working in a bar where we sit down for our first tasting for an upcoming menu, we also make our drinks and taste them as a group so that everyone has pride in each individual cocktail. That makes it so it’s not about me, that it’s about you and what you like to drink.”
What is your favorite drink to mix and why.
“I like making everything, whether it’s a vodka soda, fantastic. If it’s something really complex and crazy, that’s awesome as well. As long as you’re happy in the end, then I’m happy.”
What do you think about the evolution of the bar scene downtown?
“I think it’s pretty awesome overall. When I first started coming down here, just downtown in general, it was just the three bars when I first started working here. You’d come down here and there were still some negative stigmas against it. You could see some of that as well. I think that its nice that its starting to change and it’s allowing more people to come downtown. Every bar offers something different for everyone. So you could come down and find a bar that fits you. It’s great because when you find your bar and you come for that, you can barhop and find other bars you enjoy. I think the bars here do a really good job of promoting each other and not going against each other.”
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“I’ve learned throughout life to keep your goals loose. I don’t really have a ten-year plan, I’d like to spend as much time with my children and my wife as possible. Just spend more time with them and enjoy the moments we share and not dwell too much on the future or the past.”