Q&A: Jason Craig and Ryan Labbe
As part of the Palms’ renovations, the opening of Camden Cocktail Lounge and Apex Social Club have helped reinvigorate the property’s nightlife scene. The guys behind both venues, Clique Hospitality partners Jason Craig and Ryan Labbe, shared with Las Vegas Magazine’s Kiko Miyasato some of their favorite things about the hot spots.
What’s your favorite cocktail at Camden?
Jason Craig: My favorite drink is a mezcal Negroni and I kind of stick to that. But, on the menu, I like the White Tiger—it has tequila, St. Germain, lemon and egg white, but I also love it since it was named after my car (laughs).
Ryan Labbe: My favorite would have to be the Matcha Maker, as I generally stick to tequila-based cocktails. It’s made with agave, lemon, mint and matcha powder. Whether it is true or not, the matcha makes me feel like it’s healthier.
Three words to describe each venue?
JC: Apex, what a view. Camden, sexy cocktail lounge.
RL: Apex, a social club. Camden, amazing cocktail program.
Best seat in the house at Apex?
JC: It depends on what vibe you’re looking for when you’re out. The view on the terrace is by far the best view in the city and open air. Inside, the energy is a little more for the party. Pick your poison.
RL: I like the energy inside the main room. There’s dancing and the DJ rocking.
Favorite table snack at Camden?
JC: My favorite is the Vegan Veggie Sliders. I always order them and make the people around me try them. A vegan veggie burger can have so much flavor!
RL: The Mini Philly Cheese Steak Hero’s are by far my favorite. Kind of self-explanatory, but you can’t just have one ... or at least I can’t (laughs).
Best night to go to Apex if you really want to party?
JC: Weekend nights are always good when we have celebrity hosts and/or special performers. The energy in such an intimate room is unlike most of the venues you see in Vegas.
RL: Our local industry night is my favorite time to be in the venue. I like seeing all my friends from other venues; and, we also throw some fun, locally driven events.
What sets Camden apart from other Vegas lounges?
JC: It’s a combination of a few things we do really well—cocktail programming, food and special programming.
RL: The Olivia Steele neon piece over the main bar is definitely a favorite shot for the Instagrammers, as well as the over-the-top cocktail presentations.
The coolest features inside each venue?
JC: The statues by Dustin Yellin in Apex, I’d have to say, is one of the coolest features. They are so unique and add a cool ambience to the space. The center lighting fixture in the middle of the room in Camden and the high ceilings really set the mood. Ryan already said it, but the neon sign is really cool, too. I have to admit—everyone loves it.
RL: Even though it’s been said, the 180-degree view at Apex is so cool. As for Camden, it’s connected to the high-limit gaming lounge with the ability to open or shut off the room. This gives the players the opportunity to flow freely back and forth, or we can shut it off to give them their privacy. It’s definitely a really helpful and cool feature.
Fondest memory you have of the Palms?
JC: I worked at the Palms five years ago, and I will say, opening Apex and Camden is a new one that I’m quite fond of.
RL: There’s too many. I’ve had a lot of long nights at the Palms as a customer before we had any projects!
What projects are in the works for 2019?
JC: We are working on several, but there a few right around the corner. Greene St. Kitchen will be our new culinary concept and restaurant at the Palms, and we’re really excited for it. It’s a great space and the concept is one I think Vegas and visitors alike are really gonna be into.
RL: As Jason said, Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms is really exciting. We are also opening a new place at the Cosmopolitan called The Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails. This is a unique project we really put our own touch on and can’t wait to see how it “shapes up.”