Mark Damon Puckett
Making cocktails in Las Vegas has become a competitive art these days, with each master mixologist attempting to top the next one. If you have a voluminous budget and a capacious liver, you just can’t go wrong with the myriad Las Vegas bars in the newer hotels and casinos along The Strip.
The bartenders are not just imaginative in the creation of the drinks themselves, but absolutely audacious in the choosing of ingredients as well, often digging into the historicity of drinking and coming up with some seldom-seen liquors: Nocello Walnut Liqueur at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino’s Sugar Factory, Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Brandy at Sage at ARIA, and Ecco Domani Moscato at Payard Pâtisserie at Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino, and so on.
Edible flowers and over-the-top garnishes adorn most drinks as well. Take the flowery Sichuan button at The Chandelier bar at The Cosmopolitan and the Love Unit with its large, succulent red bell pepper floating alongside a "spanked" Thai basil leaf (was this a drink or a date?) at Hyde at the Bellagio.
"A bartender is a perfect dichotomy of knowledge, spirit, passion, humility, listener, and showman," says Mariena Mercer, mixologist at The Chandelier. "Each trait is careful not to overwhelm but rather inform. I keep my feet in the foundation of classic cocktails and techniques and my head in the clouds, utilizing innovative and creative techniques and ingredients."
Drink-for-drink, the folks at Wynn Las Vegas have the most impressive drinks. Patricia Richards, master mixologist for Wynn’s staggering 21 bars, is very precise, even down to the individual pour at outposts like Botero and Mizumi, producing liquid perfection.
It was a tough job sipping our way through Las Vegas’ most insane drinks list, but The Daily Meal has whittled it down to 10 Insane Cocktails to Try in Las Vegas. There are even a few recipes to recreate these at home. Cheers.
Mark Damon Puckett has written for Saveur and Greenwich Magazine. He is the author of The Reclusives, YOU with The Ill-usives, and The Killer Detective Novelist (October 2012), all available on amazon.com and bn.com. Please visit him at www.markdamonpuckett.com.