Wayne Harper’s Martini Club is inauspiciously located in a bland strip mall at the corner of McCullough and Rector, in the shadow of North Star Mall. The equally inauspicious sign above the bar doesn’t suggest the delights found inside, starting with a décor that draws inspiration from an old Vegas lounge. People who are familiar yet disinterested with Vegas’s current over-the-top, sanitized spectacle might enjoy the Martini Club’s implied homage to the older downtown Vegas of Fremont Street.
Because most of the interior is dark, a glittery, chatoyant stage immediately caught my eye. I continued to the bar and perused a long list of martini options. None of them were inexpensive, but the long happy hour was still in effect at 7:45 p.m., and my dirty martini with Tito’s vodka cost a reasonable $6.
As I began marinating my liver, the sassy but straight-faced bartender kept me on my toes, describing the $3 drink specials that begin at 8 p.m.
The group at the bar was small, but included a few administrative assistants, a town drunk, and a guy who looked like an off-work tennis pro. I didn’t need to stare long because above the bar was a wall of mirrors that allowed me to spy on the other patrons from all sorts of sneaky angles. Was this a clear indication of a swingers bar? I hoped so. Things had been a little slow at that point and my companions’ main comments had focused on analyzing the aroma of the potpourri candle on the bar.
It was almost 9 p.m. and the karaoke was about to begin. Karaoke is one of the main reasons to come to Martini Club. Though I don’t sing much myself, I can’t imagine a more magical setting than their fabulous stage. The first singer tried his hand at “Save the Last Dance For Me” by the Drifters (an ironic way to begin) and then moved on to Lionel Richie’s “Still.” Both songs were performed with feeling.
And finally, the best for last — the owner Wayne Harper. Those of you who aren’t quite ready to take the karaoke stage con brio should observe Wayne as he performs on Fridays and Saturday nights at 9:30. A reported master of styles, he is known to sing everything from Rat Pack standards to ’70s country to pop. These performances alone make the Martini Club “one of the best kept secrets in town.”
The Martini Club
Bugsy’s Vegas, a little tarnished
Owner Wayne Harper on stage
$3 drink specials
All night Mon-Thu
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