Behold, The Crapper: a toilet-shaped porcelain cup filled with light rum, chocolate liqueur and frozen pina colada, all topped with a floating Snickers bar.
Who, you wonder, would drink such a thing? You would be surprised. Mothers. Fathers. Men. Women. More men than women but, still, women. Americans. Europeans. People who want to have a memorable experience in Vegas and then a souvenir to take home.
If rum isn’t your thing, there are many other beverages to choose from, all consumable from your very own 45-ounce, porcelain toilet. It is a wildly popular souvenir glass available at Rock & Rita’s in Circus Circus.
Just a few casinos away, you can get your head out of the toilet and wrap your lips around a straw sticking out of a bucking bull’s rear end.
People think it’s hilarious, says the bull cup’s co-creator, Jonathan Fine, owner of PBR Rock Bar inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort.
If you are not into scatological references related to your cocktails, don’t worry. There’s a souvenir glass out there for you. Name it; attempts have probably been made to turn it into a drinking glass. There are glasses shaped like magnum Champagne bottles, guitars, boots, downtown signs, hot air balloons, skulls, toilets and animals. Even women.
The football and yardlong glasses, industry standards and Vegas mainstays, pale in comparison.
No doubt, some of you are shaking your head by now and asking “is this the end of the world?” But some of you are also planning an outing so you can pick up one of these beauties for yourself.
And therein lies the appeal of these oddball souvenir glasses; like them or hate them, they’ve caught your attention.
“Within one square mile of the Las Vegas Strip, there are so many food and beverage options,” says David Rosborough, Rock & Rita’s general manager. “You do have to have something that is off the wall.”
The toilet and its signature drink, The Crapper, were conceived when the restaurant opened in 2010. At $25, it is the restaurant’s top-selling specialty drink and glass, Rosborough says. It is infectious, too. When one toilet bowl is carried into the dining room, it sparks another 15 orders.
Tourists love souvenir glasses.
“People are here to party and have fun and do something different, something out of the norm and especially wacky, if possible,” says Mark Brandenburg, president and co-owner of the Golden Gate. “This just fits right in.”
A couple of years ago, the Golden Gate opened a bar on the sidewalk at the Fremont Street Experience. Bartenders in fringed bikinis work the bar, sometimes even dancing on it. The hotel introduced the bikini glass to celebrate their new Onebar. Shaped like a woman wearing a fringed bikini, the glass holds 44 ounces of liquid. Visit Fremont Street Experience on any weekend and it seems that every other person is holding one.
The D also sells them.
“They reflect who we are,” Brandenburg says.
He means the Golden Gate property but Brandenburg is speaking to a larger truth. They’re kitschy, tacky, ridiculous and popular. And they are omnipresent. These oddball souvenir glasses could be used as cultural markers not only for Vegas history and American sensibilities but for the entire world.
In one thousand years, if all history of Las Vegas were lost and forgotten, these receptacles could tell a bizarre story about the people who lived and visited here, says Mark Hall-Patton, historian and administrator for the Clark County museum system.
An archaeologist looking at them one or two thousand years from now might think these glasses have some religious symbolism because of the variety of shapes and sizes, Hall-Patton says.
“You’d have to guess that there was some meaning beyond, ‘Yeah, I want to suck my drink out of the bulls back end,’ ” Hall-Patton says. “The idea that a culture would just do something to be humorous is not the first thing historians go to when trying to explain something. You would wonder what purpose does it serve? And why would they do that?”
Jonathan Fine did it partly to mess with people. The co-creator of the bucking bull cup, Fine created an 80-ounce guitar-shaped glass over four years ago.
Besides PBR, Fine owned the Rock House bar, a small dive bar specializing in beer pong and yardlong margaritas once located in front of Imperial Palace. It closed to make way for the Linq project but is expected to reopen soon. A Venetian location recently opened.
The guitar glasses changed his business. In the first year of production, he sold 46,000.
“It really put my bars on the map,” Fine says. “It drove traffic. There were always 200 or 300 people in line to buy them and that was just out of one bar.”
A couple of years ago, he deviated from the typical boot-shaped glass that bars stocked for National Finals Rodeo and went with a bucking bull glass. He even decided where to place the straw.
One thing is certain when it comes to souvenir glasses: You can’t take them seriously. They are supposed to be funny, offensive, shocking. Mostly, they are supposed to make you want one.
Fine is not only in on the joke, he’s making it. While there is a constant movement to create a “classy” Vegas with its haute cuisine, high-end, billion dollar resorts and VIP bottle service, Fine is creating something for the everyman.
“My goal is to have 50,000 guys in muscle T-shirts and Bermuda shorts wearing a plastic guitar around their neck walk into your casino every year,” Fine says with a laugh.
He is always working on the newest addition to the bar. Fine introduced a 72-ounce beer bottle that they use to play beer pong. He’s tried to make cups in the shape of backpacks, hats and microphones, but they didn’t work out. The hat leaked, the backpack was too messy and heavy and the microphone just looked like a regular cup.
“We’re currently working on a daiquiri IV where you get pushed down the street on a stretcher,” Fine says. “I’m just joking.”
Don’t be so sure.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.