I think most people are aware that Las Vegas has plenty of places to drink, yes? But those who like their spirits with a little more…uh, spirit…might not realize how many creative and award-winning drink makers (okay, okay, “Mixologists”) there are on the Strip. Put simply, this is the place to try something new, and you won’t hurt for choices. Here are just a handful of favorite drinks, and places to get them:
The Old Cuban, Rhumbar (Mirage). An obscure classic, the Old Cuban has been improved here by combining Flor de Cana siete años rum, lime juice, cane syrup, mint leaves and bitters with a float of Moët Napa California Champagne on top. A great sipper, even if you’re not a big rum person. And the eye candy both behind the bar and across the room at this Miami-style indoor/outdoor lounge will entertain your eyes while it occupies your lips.
Secret menu, Delmonico Steakhouse (Venetian). Emeril’s meatery offers one of the largest selections of cask aged spirits (that’s Scotch, Bourbon and other Whiskies) in the known universe. As if that’s not enough, the staff creates an ever-evolving menu of interesting cocktails to feature them, and some even more interesting off-menu experiments whose mixture is often entertainment in and of itself. Drop in and try something truly new.
Clockwork Orange, American Fish (Aria). Start with Nolet's Gin, some add citrus, twice-filtered jalapeno and syrup, and you have a complex but truly balanced cocktail. This Michael Mina restaurant is known for great food, but it’s also one of the best happy hour destinations on the Strip. Now you know.
Lemon Verbena, Chandelier Bar (Cosmopolitan). Another drink you won’t find listed anywhere, but this one’s a bit famous. Mariena Mercer, manager of the three-level centerpiece bar in the hippest casino on the Strip, creates this astounding cocktail from tequila, Yuzu sour mix, ginger syrup and garnishes of lemon verbena leaves and a Szechuan button—a rare flower bud (actually from Africa) which makes your mouth tingle and tricks your taste buds. You have to try it!
Spiked Shake Trio, KGB (Harrah’s). Plenty of places do “adult” milkshakes now, in Vegas and everywhere else. But Kerry Simon’s burger spot lets you sample three thick, creamy flavors for the price of one, too! Captain Crunch, Chocolate-Chili and Espresso would be great choices, though they may have a special flavor worth trying as well.
I have to thank fellow Las Vegas food writer and occasional drinking buddy E.C. Gladstone for contributing to this piece.