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October 23, 2014

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Nightlife imitating art: A ‘Rock of Ages’ hangout is realized with the Bourbon Room

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Bill Hughes

The Rock of Ages-inspired venue has 60 varieties of bourbon to taste.

In the late ’80s, Drew Boley worked as a busboy at the infamous nightclub the Bourbon Room. Well, he did in Rock of Ages. Boley, you see, is pure fiction. And until a couple weeks ago, the Bourbon Room was, too. But the Venetian just changed that, transforming La Scena Lounge into a real-life version of the Rock of Ages hangout. It’s life imitating art. Nightlife imitating art.

The whole bar looks like a stage—scaffolding, spotlights, microphones—and you’re on it. You’re the star. Actually, emcee Marvelous Mark is probably the star. He’s the guy wearing a heavy metal wig. The guy climbing up the scaffolding and leading the crowd through a “Mony Mony” scream-off. He’s winning.

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The entire venue looks like a stage, scaffolding, spotlights and all.

Out comes the Bourbon Room waitstaff, dressed in fishnet tops and shiny leggings. They’re dancing to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and then to a Journey song. You can probably guess which. Bourbon Room manager Kristijan Matic sits down with me to discuss the namesake spirit. Bourbon Room pours 60 kinds, including two single-barrels created specifically for the venue by Eagle Rare and Woodford Reserve.

I tell Matic I’ll need to start with mixed drinks. I’m more of a gin guy. Or a rum guy. Or a tequila guy. Anything but bourbon, basically. But when in Rome …

My girlfriend orders a Perfect Date (date-infused Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura Bitters, brandied cherry juice), and I try a Mint Julep From Hell (jalapeño-infused Knob Creek, fresh mint, water, powdered sugar). Then, I’m ready for shots, which are served with a side of maple popcorn and dried bacon.

Marvelous Mark drops by our table for a well-deserved break. He says that he used to be a radio host back in the ’80s, so the Bourbon Room gig is something of a homecoming for him.

“Back then I had real hair and real spandex,” he says. “You didn’t have to wear underwear.”

“I imagine it must be hard to open a bar like this, night after night,” I say.

Mark doesn’t see it that way. “I subscribe to the Bruce Springsteen philosophy: You should perform for five people the same way you’d perform for 5,000. You never know who’s out there.”

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