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Banking on a Bright Future with craft cocktails in Carson City NV

Author: Jen Peng 

craft cocktails in carson city NV

When the locals are looking for craft cocktails in Carson City NV, they head to Bank Saloon. With a name like that, you’d image a classic Old West saloon, with swinging batwing doors and a dark, rough and tumble interior.

Instead, what greeted me as I walked through the doors of this historic building on a balmy spring evening was a thoroughly modern and elegant bar, with soaring ceilings, massive windows, upscale furnishings and framed artwork.

After an extensive and ambitious renovation and preservation by owners Nevada Builders Alliance, they brought back the original Bank Saloon name, and brought in restaurateur Richard Bragiel, owner of popular neighborhood Italian eatery Mangia Tutto and someone with more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, to operate it. 

A montage of different Nevada landscapes and scenes by prominent Nevada artists on loan from The McFadden Art Collection covers nearly every available wall space. A massive black walnut bar anchors the bright and airy space, showcasing an extensive liquor collection.

craft cocktails in carson city NV
Bank Saloon redesigned into a stylish new space.

A variety of seating arrangements, including at the bar, around high-top tables, bistro tables, sofas, a private conference room and an outdoor patio, provide spaces suitable for individuals, couples and groups, from power meetings among lawmakers to casual catch-ups with friends.  

The exterior walls, made of Rhyolitic tuff from the Carson River, accents of reclaimed wood, and the name are about the only original things that remain of this National Historic Landmark, located across the street from the Nevada State Legislature. First established in 1899 as the Bank Saloon, it’s seen several name changes over the years, including most recently, Jack’s Bar. 

After an extensive and ambitious renovation and preservation by owners Nevada Builders Alliance, they brought back the original Bank Saloon name, and brought in restaurateur Richard Bragiel, owner of popular neighborhood Italian eatery Mangia Tutto and someone with more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, to operate it.  

craft cocktails in carson city NV

Bragiel introduced an impressive bar program, appropriate for an upscale cocktail drinkery. They offer more than 50 craft cocktails and nearly 100 spirits, including products from local distillers like Tahoe Blue Vodka and Frey Ranch.

All the syrups are made in-house, using local honey and fresh herbs and fruits. The cocktails are artfully made, carefully measured and served in crystal glassware, which really helps elevate the experience, as I discovered through several different tastings.  

First up is the Debbie, which is as beautiful as it is delicious. Served in a classic coupe and garnished with delicate flower petals, it’s a smooth and sophisticated sipper with a perfect balance of sweet and tart, and just a hint of floral notes.

Mangia Tutto, a local favorite for serving delicious Chicago-style Italian food.

Paying tribute to the area’s rural roots is the Ranch Hand, a surprisingly refreshing mix of Frey Bourbon, fresh lemon juice and local honey, served in a rocks glass with a spherical ice cube. The New York Sour, made with fresh egg whites and a Decoy Cabernet float, was smooth and silky with just the right hint of sour. Served in a coupe, it makes for a delicious post-dinner treat. My favorite drink during this visit was the Spicy Mexican Mule, with a surprising initial flavor of cucumber that helped balance out the jalapeno kick. Served in a copper mug, it’s a refreshing and long sip of cool, perfect for a hot day in the valley.  

What the Bank Saloon doesn’t serve is food. But you’re more than welcome to bring in some takeout or order in from local restaurants, which is exactly what we did. After our first round of cocktails, we realized we definitely wanted to try a few more, but also needed some sustenance. So we ordered in from Mangia Tutto, located just a few blocks away.

Mangia Tutto’s mouth-watering Chicago Thin Crust pizza.

A yummy pizza and a few appetizers (get the Italian sausage appetizer — it’s their own special blend and made fresh for them by Ponderosa Meats in Reno — and some extra bread to sop up all that juicy and flavorful goodness), were delivered straight to our table at the Bank Saloon. This made for an easy and tasty meal for our group of four that didn’t break the flow of our conversation or our delightful evening enjoying the full handcrafted cocktail experience.   

Next time, I plan to visit towards the end of the week. That’s because every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Bank Saloon offers live music from local musicians on their dog-friendly back patio. Enjoy everything from music to jazz, blues and rock, as you unwind from the week and sip and savor this unique piece of Nevada history.   

The Bank Saloon proves that historic and modern can beautifully combine to be something even greater. It’s seen a lot during its long history, from hold-ups at gunpoint to prohibition raids, but today, it has a bright future as a classic cocktail bar serving sophisticated drinks in a stylish space.