Which U.S city has the best cocktail culture? That’s a bit hard to judge. Is it NYC? San Fran? Chicago? New Orleans? LA? Who knows, but one things for sure – you can’t talk about cocktails without mentioning Las Vegas.
The well-heeled oasis of entertainment is often seen as the proving ground for some of the country’s top bartenders and the wider hospitality industry. Skills are forged and forced by swathes of tourists and locals constantly looking for a good time in the entertainment capital of the world. It follows that a dynamic scene of cocktails would result.
Fuelling all that energy requires some top-shelf skills, and consistency, so enjoy the following five cocktail recipes from some of Sin City’s best drinking spots and imagine yourself mixing up for a bunch of high-rollers with little patience and an eternal craving for something new and exciting. You’ve got this.
Before we dig into it you may also like the following Las Vegas pieces we’ve published:
“Champagne Cocktail” from The Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio
Drawing inspiration from the top supper clubs in the world, The Mayfair is rightfully one of the essential stops amongst many at the famed Bellagio. Behind those extravagant water shows and ever-busy gaming floor, you’ll find this elegant and eye-wateringly colourful spot serving up some of the best cocktails this side of the Strip. And they exceed when it comes to dazzling up simple recipes, like this Champagne Cocktail dressed in cotton candy.
– 1 Angostura Bitters soaked sugar cube
– 1 bunch of freshly spun cotton candy (around similar size to your Champagne flute)
– 187ml split cold Champagne
1. Wrap the flute in cotton candy (be careful to not expose to moisture or humidity to ensure candy stays fluffy and cloud-like)
2. On a napkin or plate, place 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters on a sugar cube.
3. Place the soaked cube in the bottom of the Champagne flute.
4. Fill the glass with gold Champagne carefully, so as not to allow to bubble over the rim and wet the cotton candy.
5. Fill as needed.
“We’re All Mad Here” from The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan is frequently cited as one of the most exciting spots in the Las Vegas Strip, with an endless sea of award-winning restaurants and beloved bars like the glitzy, crystal-draped Chandelier. This head-turning three-floor bar is a reference point for Vegas excess, but don’t let the ostentatious decor fool you – this isn’t no hub of mass-production and shoddy service. They are doing up some of the most delicate, complex and playful concoctions in town. Want proof? Master the “We’re All Mad Here”.
– 1.5 oz (45ml) Empress Indigo gin (here’s the description so you can decide on an appropriate substitute)
– 0.5oz (15ml) Soho Lychee
– 0.5oz (15ml) St Germain
– 1oz (30ml) H20Apple Rosewater (here’s the description)
– 1oz (30ml) lemon juice
– 1/2oz (15ml) Chardonnay Cardamom Ginger syrup (recipe included below)
– White wine glass
– Mini bottle
1. First make the syrup. Bring half a cup of Chardonnay, 1L simple syrup, quarter cup of cracked green cardamom pods and 1 cup ginger juice to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and let cool, strain.
2. Mix together the lychee, St Germain, apple rosewater and lemon juice.
3. Pour 3.5oz (104ml) in a carafe.
4. Pour mini bottle with gin and serve next to the glass.
5. When ready to drink, mix all elements together in a white wine glass.
“HK Antioxidant” from Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas
Some of Vegas’ best cocktails aren’t just reserved for standalone bars. They take pride of place on many menu’s across The Strip’s many high-end, celebrity-endorsed restaurants. A good example is Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas, so between diving into the likes of a 32-ounce royal long-bone chop or scoffing down Alaskan king crab legs, make sure you order refreshing concoctions like the HK Antioxidant.
– 2oz (59ml) Veev Acai Liqueur (can be substituted with blueberry liqueur or blueberry vodka)
– 15 muddle blueberries
– 1oz (30ml) lemon juice
– 1oz (30ml) Agave syrup
– 5 more blueberries to garnish
– 1 sprig of mint to garnish
1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
2. Shake to combine, then strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
3. Garnish with blueberries and mint.
“Aloha Old Fashioned” from Tower Suites Bar at Wynn Las Vegas
You can’t be drinking around Vegas and not come across a fancied up version of everyone’s favourite classic cocktail. The Aloha Old Fashioned from Tower Suites Bar at Wynn Las Vegas highlights that this bar is much more than just its highly social atmosphere. This gathering spot is seriously about their exceptionally built classics, often with complex twists coming from multiple sources. Experiment with this one and add this to your Old Fashioned arsenal.
– 3 or 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
– Bar spoon of Fernet Branca
– 0.25oz (7ml) Lustau East India Sherry
– 1oz (30ml) Giffard Pineapple liqueur
– 0.5oz (15ml) Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum
– 1.5oz (45ml) Bavardi Gran Reserve 10 Year Rum
– Dehydrated pinapple chip and purple orchid, for garnish
1. Pour all ingredients over large ice cube.
2. Stir and garnish.
“Hotchkiss” from The Dorsey, Venetian Resort
Often referred to as the best bar in Vegas, The Dorsey consistently matches its reputation with hit after hit in the cocktail scene. After you’ve done shopping around the highly conceptual retail precinct inside The Venetian, park yourself in between all the gilded brass and French oak of this party-minded bar and order up the Hotchkiss, created by Lead Bartender Juyoung Kang.
– 1oz (30ml) Ford’s Gin
– 0.25oz (7ml) Yellow Chartreuse
– 0.5oz (15ml) Fresh lemon juice
– 0.25oz (7ml) Orgeat
1. Combine all ingredients into a mixing tin with ice.
2. Shake and strain into a flute.
3. Top off with Champagne.
Feature image: David Becker/Las Vegas News Bureau