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IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHTLIFE: Club scene innovations abound at 2019 Nightclub & Bar Show

Amid the brain-overloading uproar in every direction, throbbing with savory flavors and scintillating stimulants — did you sample the caramel margarita salts on that display tray on your left, or notice the cannabis-infused vodka on a table to your right? — there was a young man on a mission with a damn good reason to be.

“I was almost killed by a drunk driver when I was very young, and I am very lucky to be alive,” says Justin Thompson, whose emotional journey propels his pitch at the 2019 Nightclub & Bar show at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall March 25-27. (See related story, “Convention Fast Facts.”)

Think Twice founder and president Justin Thompson talks about his company’s blood alcohol measurement product during the Nightclub & Bar Show Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

“I thought, ‘How can I help make our neighborhoods safer for us all? How can I help protect bars and people who are getting behind the wheel, aimlessly drinking and driving?’ Everyone deserves a chance to make a more informed decision.”

As co-founder of the Think Twice Foundation who was 16 when an over-imbibing motorist nearly snuffed him out, Thompson’s solution is now his product — and a method of individual and societal protection: a single-use breathalyzer available for two bucks, right at the bar.

“It’s an awesome piece of equipment,” Thompson says of the device, which helps those at risk of being at dangerous inebriation levels find out for sure in 90 seconds by blowing into it for 10 seconds. Then watch it change color from white all the way to burgundy if your blood alcohol content is registering at or above 0.08 percent, the legal standard for impairment.

And if it is? Thompson’s breathalyzer also contains an Uber discount voucher — acronym: “DUI” for “Do Uber Instead” — to help avoid a booze-fueled tragedy.

“People guess a lot of times about their impairment and they’re guessing incorrectly, causing liability not only for themselves and the general public but those that serve them. Now you don’t have to hope, guess or feel — you can know in 90 seconds for two bucks at the bar,” says Thompson, noting that insurance companies are also embracing it as part of a “risk mitigation strategy” and it even has profitable business perks.

“It’s actually changing people’s pattern of consumption,” Thompson says. “People will stay and have some food and sober up.”

Elsewhere on the expo floor, innovations on multiple nightlife-loving fronts — creative libations, new payment technologies, entertainment upgrades, dazzling new décor products (lighting, signage, etc.), imaginative glassware and drinkware, and much more — flow out of a jam-packed lineup of colorful booths.

Unmistakable fact: Nightclub industry leaders had come to the right city — the nightclub capital of the world. You love the nightlife? You’ve got to boogie? Then boogie through the aisles crowded with …

  • Stacks of Jack (Daniels, that is)
  • High-tech barstools guaranteed never to wobble (even if the person perched on it does)
  • Stripper poles and go-go cages (with female models posing seductively and gazing alluringly)
  • App-controlled wireless LED lighting to set the sexy-or-frenzied mood
  • Displays of ginger beer
  • Flashing neon shot glasses
  • Glam waitress uniforms
  • Beverage carbonation machines (“Motto: “Stop pouring profits down the drain!”)
  • Cocktail stations (“Introducing the 10-second craft cocktail!”)
  • Hemp-based, cannabidiol-infused alcohol shots (“Instant buzz, 1-60th the calories, tastes great!”)
  • “Tossware” recyclable glasses
  • Portable digital billboard systems
  • Smoked Bloody Mary mixes, fruit teas, organic frozen cocktails and “Aunt Lucy’s” Hot Toddy concoction
  • Hypermakerz’s glow-bright, rainbow-brilliant marquees

“We call it leverage your beverage!” says spokesman/pitchman Jeremiah Brooks of the Ripple Maker 3D, a Wi-Fi-enabled countertop device that can top off cream-based drinks with foamy artistic images, from prefab (“VIP,” dice cubes, cocktail shakers and, of course, “Vegas baby!”) to more individualized creations. As Brooks (enthusiastically) explains:

Photos are printed on beverage foam by a machine from Ripples during the Nightclub & Bar Show Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

“You can do selfies that you send to the machine and it will print your image on your beverage,” he says, and although just one sip distorts the artistry, social media is the key to its benefits. “It’s the next wave in restaurant marketing for all the Instagram followers and the young generation in the Twitterverse,” Brooks says. “If you pay for targeted marketing, you’re only going to reach 300 or 400 people at a time, but if you have five people with 8,000 followers, you’ve got 40,000 people, so the value is self-explanatory.”

Hyperbole? Just another word for salesmanship, and what would any self-respecting exhibitor booth (and its exhibitor) be without it? “This is the most disruptive technology in the restaurant and bar industry since credit cards were introduced in the 1960s!” proclaims Steve Simon of software company Bbot and its “smart table ordering” system of paying and tipping.

“Anonymously — no app, no signup — you just go to the website (Bbot.menu) on your Smartphone,” Simon explains about reducing the need to flag down a server. “You order, and the servers at the back of the house know which table ordered it and then can walk it out to you.  We don’t take any other information, owners don’t have to have iPads at the tables or a table tent or signage.  It allows bar owners to operate a more efficient establishment. It’s different than most things you might be used to.”

Would one of those delectables you’re ordering be cannabis-infused beer, i.e., Cannabier? “We launched it in August in Nevada and the first couple of months our distribution was a little rocky getting it started,” says Jeffry Paul, the new brew’s vice president/director of sales.

“But people are getting used to it real fast. A lot of people have said to me, ‘Wow, I would try that!’ even if they’ve avoided cannabis. They’re not smoking, they’re not doing edibles where they’re not sure what’s happening, and it’s lightly dosed. Who’s not comfortable drinking a beer?”

Care to get even comfier? Do it in fly-in-the-sky style right here, in the booth for Air Hollywood, a studio that provides aircraft and aviation-themed sets for movie and TV productions (The Wolf of Wall Street, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Bridesmaids, Modern Family) and has turned its skills toward furniture-making and décor accoutrements for nightclubs and businesses.

See that gleaming, steel-and-chrome table, perfect for hoisting a few adult beverages over? That’s a refitted 747 engine cowling, coated in acrylic and repurposed as a bar. That one next to it? Once upon an airborne time, it was an engine that powered a 727. Oh, and that funky, art deco-style … whatchamacallit?

“That’s a Gulfstream window exterior that we made into an art piece,” says Air Hollywood CEO/founder Talaat Captan (yes, that’s actually his last name, and no, he’s not a real captain), who is also a screenwriter/producer. “Rather than throw it away, let’s create art! So I called in a few artists to create it for us. And over there is a Gulfstream engine that we made into a wine or Champagne table, with real airline seats, reupholstered around them.”

Past lines where curious throngs of convention-goers sip, slurp, chew and swallow their way through copious supplies of liquid and edible samples (to the soundtrack of a live guitar-strumming balladeer crooning Marty Robbin’s “Cigarette and Coffee Blues”) we end as we began: at another socially responsible corrective for nightclub-bar patrons prone to … over-enjoyment.

Meet — or reacquaint yourself with — the Bytox Hangover Patch.

“It’s like putting an IV right into your bloodstream,” says Felix Elinson of Bytox, explaining the (let’s face it — self-evident) benefits of the transdermal patch that transmits what he, in refreshingly non-medical-ese, calls “a bunch of medicines” to replenish the vitamins lost through dehydration after imbibing.

“The next day you don’t feel as drunk and the headache effect is less,” Elinson says. Ideally, drinkers would use the patch about 30 minutes before the first droplets of alcohol wet their lips. But if they forget?

“Oh, well,” he says. “It’s never too late to put a little vitamin in your life.” 

We love the nightlife. We’ve got to boogie. 


To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.

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by Steve Bornfeld/Las Vegas Newswire

by Steve Bornfeld/Las Vegas Newswire