Summer Travel Quest #20

Drink in an Ice Vault

Do it with Lenin’s head in Las Vegas by ducking into Red Square, Mandalay Bay’s coolest place to drink
by Lark Gould
An award-winning journalist, Lark has been covering travel for 35 years, shedding light on the darkest corners of the globe and sharing secrets from spots well traveled.

Those who want out of the summer heat can come into the cold and get their Stoli on, along with fur coats and hats, in the frozen vodka vault inside Red Square at Mandalay Bay.

There, Lenin’s head remains in state—well, at least the fake one in Las Vegas. Red Square at Mandalay Bay got the party started in 1999, when the resort opened and Lenin’s head was still attached to a statue of the leader standing in front of the bohemian-style bar and bistro. The head was stolen one dark night and then returned and placed, like Lenin’s body in Moscow, under glass—Plexiglas, that is. It remains there to this day in a special vodka locker within a restaurant known for blinis, caviar, chicken Kiev (baked in a potato chip crust) and martinis served on a bar made from a solid block of ice.

For those who want to play a little Russian roulette with their vodka shots, a variety of vodka flights are available, to be downed in a cozy glass-and-brick salon kept at a frosty 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whether it’s the “From Russia with Love” (Stolichnaya, Jewel of Russia, Russian Standard and Imperia, $42), the “Four Food Group” (Chopin, Belvedere, Ciroc and Stoli Elite, $32), the “Made in the USA” (Skyy, Charbay, American Harvest and Hangar One, $30) or the “World Tour” (Grey Goose, Ultimat, 42 Below and Kai, $35), the shots are presented on circular palettes with frozen glasses smoking in dry ice, all served on the transparent box containing Lenin’s head.

INSIDER TIP

The vodka vault is small, and groups cannot be larger then 10. There is one velvet dictator chair. Everyone else must stand.

Patrons pay nothing extra for this access, although they may have to wait or move over when a member of the elite comes in. They don furs, hats and boots fitted by a cosmetically enhanced “brrr maid” and take their shots in the Czar-era chamber surrounded by private vodka stashes local celebs pay $10,000 a year to maintain.

Shots start at $14, bottles start at $100 and Skyy is not the limit here. After a few minutes, and not more than 20, it usually gets too nippy to spend added moments toasting to the Dear Leader. The party moves back into the bistro, where the lights are low, the ceiling is high and couples in corners exchange secret information in whispers. 

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An award-winning journalist, Lark Gould has been covering travel for 35 years, shedding light on the darkest corners of the globe and sharing secrets from spots well traveled. She puts her wide wisdom to work at Larkslist.com

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MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS

18) Touch a Dinosaur Bone in the Wild

19) Find the Perfect Hawaiian Shirt

20) Drink in an Ice Vault

21) Take Home a Pennsylvania Dutch Quilt

22) Sail on an America's Cup Yacht

>> All 99 Summer Travel Quests

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Use the hashtag #99SummerQuests to share your own summer travels, and follow along with us at @MapQuest and Instagram.


 

See the inside of the Red Square vodka vault
See the inside of the Red Square vodka vault
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