Vegas bartenders serve seasonal cheer with festive drink creations

Posted by on Dec 2nd, 2010 and filed under Featured, Xtra News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Apple Cider Manhattan

Ciderhouse Punch from N9NE Group at the Palms

When the holiday season rolls around each year, there is a flurry of people looking to bring out their inner-Martha Stewart-Rachael Ray-and-Paula Deen rolled into one. They play a game of one-upmanship as each tries to out-cook, out-decorate and out-host the others on their block or in their office.

And while the most attentive holiday hosts pay close attention to a menu chock full of items like prosciutto-wrapped dates, perfectly-whipped mashed potatoes and pecan pie with a vanilla-wafer crust, all of that hard work can unravel quickly when guests see a selection of drinks that looks as if it was pulled from your college dorm room.

Quite simply, the holidays are not the time to rely on your trusty Crown Royal and Coke recipe. Holiday cocktails are your time to shine beyond the traditional fixings of a seasonal menu. Cocktails give you a chance to wow guests with your intimate knowledge of all things alcoholic, while taking cues from holiday flavors.

Now, you may be asking, “What does this all have to do with Vegas?”  In a city full of people who do nothing but entertain thousands of people daily, mixologists are to the holiday cocktail what Paula Deen is to Southern cooking.

While most of these mixologists work at different properties and had their own drink ideas, all said the same thing when crafting a holiday cocktail: Step outside the box.

“When you’re having a party you always want to cook something crazy,” said Dave Herlong, creative mixologist for N9NE Group at the Palms. “You’re never going to cook what you cook at a party during a regular day after work, you’re going to go all out. So why not do that with the cocktails?

“People go to the normal corner bar every night and have a rum and Coke. Why not make something fun and a little crazy? You might spend a little extra time, but it’s really going to create that wow factor.”

Another key to holiday cocktails is that you want the drinks to embrace the holiday season. That means flavors that scream festive such as, pomegranate, pumpkin and apple.

“When I was a kid, I used to like apple cider and it always came around this time of the year – October, November, December – so I wanted to make something that was similar to that,” said James Colagrande, a mixologist at Fusion inside the Palazzo when discussing his Lights-Out Apple Cider.

No doubt, most hosts put a lot of effort into their meal planning and don’t want to be bogged down by a tedious alcoholic beverage. That is why a proper plan is essential. With some planning you can pre-make several drinks or, at the very least, the garnishes that provide the eye candy to your creations.

Items like punches are always popular at parties because it usually requires only one preparation. But you can make items like champagne cocktails by adding all the ingredients ahead of time and waiting until the last moment to top it off with the champagne itself so the drinks don’t become flat.

Garnishes can be as simple as adding a swirling orange peel or even some cloves.

“If you’re going to do drinks, batch it out as much as you can,” said Jack “Sugar” O’Brien, a bartender for N9NE Group.

Mixologists are sticklers for using fresh ingredients, which for the everyday person means extra work. But, according to Patricia Richards, mixologist at Wynn/Encore who oversees the cocktail lists for both properties, the effect on the cocktail is well worth it.

“I always work parties at people’s houses and they bring in these jugs (of pre-made mixers) and I’m like, ‘I’ll buy the mixers from now on,’” Richards said. “Because they always buy the biggest and the cheapest and it has an adverse effect on your cocktails. (If) you want that bright, beautiful acidity and those beautiful flavors, you want to go as natural as possible.”

As important as it is to impress during the holidays, the mixologists interviewed in this story said it was equally important to provide guests with some bar staples. That includes whiskey, gin, wine, beer, basically the same items you would be drinking if you weren’t trying to show off in front of your friends.

And as any good bartender would remind you, don’t forget to keep an eye out for your intoxicated friends.

“It’s about serving responsibly and having designated drivers,” Richards said.

To make your holiday cocktail search easier, several of the always-friendly Vegas mixologists shared some of the recipes they will feature at their respective properties.

Lights Out Apple Cider from Fusion at The Palazzo

Lights Out Apple Cider from Fusion at The Palazzo

Lights-Out Apple Cider
Where it can be found:
Fusion Mixology Bar inside the Palazzo
Created by: James Colagrande
Ingredients:
• 2 oz of Hennessey Black
• 1 oz of apple juice
• 1 bar spoon full of apple puree
• ½ oz of lemon juice
• ½ oz of simple syrup
Method: Shaken and poured over ice, served in a footed pilsner
and topped with optional crème float.

White Cranberry Cosmopolitan
Where it can be found:
Wynn / Encore
Created by: Patricia Richards
Ingredients:
• 2  oz. Finlandia Cranberry Vodka
• 1/2 oz. Cointreau Liqueur
• 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 oz. Ocean Spray white cranberry juice
• 1/8 oz. Simple syrup (*recipe below)
Method: Combine the above ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake well with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled martini/cocktail glass. Drop 3 frozen cranberries into glass. (*Simple Syrup Recipe: Combine equal parts of fine granulated sugar with bottled water or regular granulated sugar with boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use. Syrup will keep for up to 2 months).

Celebration
Where it can be found:
Wynn / Encore
Created by: Patricia Richards
Ingredients:
• 1/2 oz Grand Marnier 100
• 5 oz Moet Chandon White Star or Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne
• 1 sugar cube half-soaked in Angostura Bitters
•  long, thin, spiral of orange peel
Method: Build in a champagne flute. Place garnish of orange peel into flute last, with peel hanging over the edge.

Pumpkin Spice Martini
Where it can be found:
Fusion Mixology Bar at the Palazzo
Ingredients:
• 1 oz.  spiced rum
• 1 oz.  vanilla vodka
• 1 oz.  half & half
• 1 oz.  simple syrup
• 1 barspoon pumpkin puree prepared with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar
Method: Shake all ingredients and double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a float of homemade pumpkin whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Spiced Apple Cooler
Where it can be found:
Wynn / Encore
Created by: Patricia Richards
Ingredients:
• 3/4 oz. Patron Silver Tequila
• 3/4 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
• 3/4 oz. Granny’s Apple Liqueur
• 4 ½ oz. Reed’s Spiced Apple Ginger Brew
• 1/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Method: Combine the above into a mixing glass. Add ice to tin and roll ingredients 3 times to combine. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Garnish with a baby green apple by Flambar, sitting on rim of glass.

Ciderhouse Punch
Where it can be found:
N9NE at Palms
Created by: Dave Herlong
Ingredients:
• 2 oz. Captain Morgan Private Stock
• 0.5 oz. Domaine De Canton Ginger Liquor
• 0.25 maple syrup
• 0.25 cinnamon simple syrup (*recipe below)
• 3oz fresh pressed apple cider
• 0.5 sparkling apple cider
• 1 lemon wedge
Method: In a mixing tin filled with ice, add lemon wedge, rum, ginger liquor, maple syrup, cinnamon syrup and apple cider. Shake well. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and whole cloves.
(*Cinnamon simple syrup: To make a basic simple syrup, place 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir until all sugar is melted and add 5 whole cinnamon sticks and continue to simmer. Strain out sticks and cool before using.)

Apple Cider Manhattan from N9NE Group at the Palms

Apple Cider Manhattan from N9NE Group at the Palms

Apple Cider Manhattan
Where it can be found:
N9NE at Palms
Created by: Dave Herlong
Ingredients:
• 2 oz. Makers Mark Bourbon
• 0.5 oz. Navan vanilla infused Cognac
• 0.5 oz.  cinnamon simple syrup (*recipe below)
• 1 oz.  fresh pressed apple cider
Method: In a mixing tin filled with ice, add bourbon, vanilla cognac, cinnamon syrup and apple cider. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of apple and whole clove.
(*Cinnamon simple syrup: To make a basic simple syrup, place 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir until all sugar is melted and add 5 whole cinnamon sticks and continue to simmer. Strain out sticks and cool before using.)

Kentucky Apple Fix
Where it can be found:
Wynn / Encore
Created by: Patricia Richards
Ingredients:
• 1 ¾ oz. Makers Mark 46 Bourbon
• 1/2 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
• 1 ¾ oz. fresh sweet & sour (*recipe below)
• 1/2 oz. Eden organic apple butter (find it in the jam section of Whole Foods Market)
• 1/4 oz. Sonoma cinnamon infused simple syrup
Method: Combine the above ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and shake well to chill. Strain over fresh ice into a large 13 oz. tumbler glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
(**Fresh Sweet & Sour Recipe: Combine equal parts of freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice with simple syrup (*see recipe below). Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use. Expires in 7 days).

Spiced Chocolate Almond
Where it can be found:
Wynn / Encore
Created by: Patricia Richards
Ingredients:
• 1 oz. Amaretto di Saronno
• 1 oz. Kahlua
• 0.25 oz. (1 pump) Baristella dark chocolate syrup
• 2.25 oz. half & half
Method: Combine all of the above ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg all over the top of cocktail.

Card Table Cocktail from N9NE Group at the Palms

Card Table Cocktail from N9NE Group at the Palms

Card Table Cocktail
Where it can be found:
N9NE at Palms
Created by: Jack “Sugar” O’Brien
Ingredients:
• 1.5 oz. Fig and all-spice infused Ketel One
• 0.75 oz. Cherry Heering Liqueur
• 3 oz. Apple cider
• 0.5 oz. Brown sugar simple syrup
• 0.5 oz. Pomegranate molasses
• 4 dashes Orange bitters
• Squeeze fresh lemon
Method: Shake all ingredients over ice and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with three Luxardo Cherries and a twist.

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