Hipster. The term is met with many a stigma. The word association usually goes something like thick-rimmed glasses, indie music, ridiculous hair, liberal mindedness, Williamsburg, etc. Williamsburg, New York — you can just see it now. It’s a corner building, stone walls, rooftop trellis, and an impossibly trendy crowd inside enjoying libations. Oh wait, this is Las Vegas? Yup, its downtown Las Vegas, and the corner building is called Commonwealth.
Commonwealth celebrated its grand opening only two years ago, but what a pair of years it has been. It’s not hard to recall a not-so-distant time when Fremont East could only lay claim to a much smaller amount of bars, the most notable being Beauty Bar and The Griffin: two mainstays, both hailing from national chains of successful bars.
There are more Yelp reviews of Commonwealth with the word “hipster” in them than you can wag a PBR at. Not all of them with a positive connotation. Commonwealth is one of the most polarizing additions to downtown, so it seems, and we are here to say that the addition is worthy and purposeful.
While Commonwealth may bear the hipster onus, hipster is not a black and white term; it’s a prism scale, and Commonwealth is doing its damnedest to satisfy the full spectrum. Upon entering you’ll be greeted with the shining star of the establishment — the aesthetics. It’s very clear to see that owner Ryan Doherty has not spared any expense or detail to create a certain motif within the Commonwealth walls. The ceilings are exposed with austere wooden beams stretching from wall to wall and a series of ornate chandeliers punctuate the spaces in between. A bevy of modern surrealist and pop art pieces line the walls as well as pastiche collages that look full of clippings from 1920s Harper’s Bazaar and photo albums from the same era. Long wooden tables split the room, the bar to one side. Booth-type seating areas with period appropriate furniture, handpicked by designer Hayley Hunter, tastefully litter the remaining areas of the room. Your art and decor aficionado hipster friend gets a fix in these vibe-setting elements no doubt.
Now, your laidback musician hipster friend also gets his or her fix on the first floor of Commonwealth. The bar is home to an event called the Wednesday Chandelier Sessions hosted by Ben Carey, formerly of Lifehouse. That event aims to foster the local musician community with a space to perform as well as be mentored by musicians from many different walks. Wednesday Chandelier Sessions are held every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to close.
But what about your hip-hop hipster friend (say that fives times fast)? What is there for them at Commonwealth? Well, you need only walk up the iron-railed staircase to the rooftop patio to find out. Your hip-hop hipster friend as well as your hipster friend who secretly likes clubs but has a strong distaste for club covers/costs and Strip-type crowds (you know those two commonly run together) will both find respite on the rooftop. The rooftop provides an atmospheric aspect to Commonwealth and a view of Fremont Street that really can’t be beat. Since the bar opened there has nary been a weekend evening that one could have walked by and not seen that rooftop above filled to the brim with revelers twerking and grinding to jams to be heard all around the block.
While we’re rifling through one’s most commonly had hipster friends, you know we cannot forget your suspender and bowtie wielding, curled mustache having hipster friend. Where do they get their fix at Commonwealth? First off, they are going to fit right in with the staff, as it seems they’re all required to possess the aforementioned accessories. So, they’re blending in and they look classic, but more importantly their palettes are being attended to, and you know this friend’s drink palette is very specific. A craft cocktail they crave? You don’t say. Well, this friend came to the right place. Commonwealth boasts a drink menu with the likes of evening cocktails named “Little Hot Mess” (we all know one), “The Dude Abides” — an interesting take on a White Russian (and any hipster worth their weight in American Spirits is a fan of “The Big Lebowski”), and ”The Marauder of Fremont Sreet” (sounds intimidating, but the combination of Bacardi wolf berry, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint and berries is just simply delightful). Their Copper Mugs selection has your classic “Moscow Mule’, but there’s also one named “The Panty Dropper,” so if your crass hipster friend is tagging along, they’ll have a drink to go after as well.
More importantly if you have a friend that is of the elitist variety or just enjoys a private and quiet setting, The Laundry Room is just for them. The Laundry Room is the private speakeasy bar within Commonwealth. Haven’t seen it or heard of it? Well, that’s because you must be invited or be lucky enough to be bestowed with a clothespin that has the private telephone number to the bar on it in by which you can make reservations to enjoy the 12 person capacity space. Once inside you’ll be attended to by Dan Marohnic the resident mixologist, or as he would like to be called “boozologist.” With over a decade of experience under his belt, you can simply describe a mood or a particular flavor you like and Dan will make the most appeasing cocktail you can imagine.
If cocktails aren’t your thing and beer drinking is more your hipster style, know that you will be met well as the local and non-local craft beer selection at Commonwealth is pretty stellar, a must-try being their Banana Bread beer. Looking to get some bang for your buck (knowing your cheap hipster friend is probably along for the ride too) look no farther than the “Pick Your Friends” selection, choose one of eight beer choices, as well as one of seven liquor shot choices all for only $12, and you’re bound to have a good time. Still looking to save? Commonwealth has a commendable happy hour that runs Wednesday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and provides $3 well drinks and draft beers, and $5 premium cocktails and craft beers.
Overall, Commonwealth really has a little bit of something for everyone — dancing, unique drinks, and ambiance to boot. Also, all these hipster generalizations are said in jest and love: we just can’t help that Commonwealth is so hip! Remember self-depreciation and sarcasm is a hipster’s best friend, so from one hipster to another, cheers!
Commonwealth is located at 525 E. Fremont St. Las Vegas, NV 89101 – For more information please visit: www.commonwealthlv.com