By Karen On August 17, 2023

I Used to Hate Vegas Too: Off-Strip Recommendations for the 2023 ADI Conference

When it comes to hating Las Vegas, I get it. I used to hate Vegas too. I come from Portland — a place that loves to hate all things artificial, wasteful and excessive — but I changed my tune when I did two things:

1. I left The Strip & Fremont Street.

2. I tried to meet locals and find out where they spend their time.

Why am I squawking about Vegas? The industry is heading to Vegas next week for the American Distilling Institute’s yearly conference.

After spending 10 years covering food and drink journalistically, I realized the real gems are found in growing cities that have something to prove. Think: Boise, Minneapolis, Rochester. Include Vegas in list of the growing cities attempting to make a name for themselves.

It might be cool to hate Vegas, but still, like any other city, its residents work in the service industry and have deep roots in the community through arts and culture. Here’s a short list of off-strip adventures for the 20th Anniversary of the ADI Conference.

Check out our map and some of our photos from our last trip.


Karen Locke is Founder of High-Proof Creative. She has written about booze for magazines like GQ magazine, Bon Appétit, Thrillist, Sip Northwest, Chilled, and more. Additionally, Karen has many years of creative, and marketing agency work in Portland. She believes the darker the bar, the better.

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