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October 31, 2014

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Food and Drink:

Twelve drinks of Christmas for your holiday party

In the mood to mix it up during the holiday party season?

Here are a dozen colorful cocktails you might enjoy that were published during the last year as part of the Las Vegas Weekly's "Cocktail of the Week" feature.

Below, you'll find a little about each cocktail and the bars that serve them. The Weekly staff has also included the ingredients and the mixology method, if you want to try your hand at these Las Vegas favorites.

    • Gondolier Blanco

      The weather outside might not be frightful, but for those craving a taste of Rockwellian Christmas, rest assured that there’s an oasis in this desert. The Venetian and Palazzo’s Winter in Venice is a picturesque landscape of festivities, and along with the skating, holiday concerts and strolling carolers are deliciously themed cocktails.

      Inspired by baking cookies and candies with her family, mixologist Wendy Verdel-Hodges created the Gondolier Blanco ($12), available throughout the resort’s lounges, including Fusion, Laguna Champagne Bar and the Bourbon Room. She describes the silky cocktail as “white chocolate peppermint bark with a kick,” and one sip from this candy cane-rimmed martini glass will fill you with the sensation of the holiday season. It’s a Bing Crosby dream come true. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      1 oz. white chocolate liqueur

      1 oz. white creme de menthe

      1 oz. white creme de cocoa

      1/2 oz. white chocolate syrup

      1/2 oz. cream crushed candy cane (for rim)

      Method: Rim martini glass with crushed candy cane. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into glass.

    • Warm up by the fire with this twist on the White Russian.

      Stoli Choco Koko White Russion

      Forget carrots for the reindeer or home-baked cookies beside the chestnut-roasting fire. Spike the milk instead.

      On Nov. 30, Drink & Drag celebrated the launch of Stolichnaya Chocolat Kokonut and Salted Karamel with free bowling, vodka-infused cupcakes and a creamy cocktail that’s bound to get you off Santa’s naughty list this year.

      The sweet satisfaction of Old St. Nick’s milk-and-cookies combo meets the slow-sippin’ pace of the Dude’s “Caucasian” in the Stoli Choco Koko White Russian. Stoli introduced its new Chocolat Kokonut a few months ago, and the flavored vodka is full of sweet indulgence with just a touch of sinful delight. It’s perfect for sips between knocking down pins, claiming a rug from a millionaire or starting a new Christmas tradition. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      2 oz. Stoli Chocolat Kokonut

      1 oz. coffee liqueur

      1 oz. light cream or milk

      Method: Pour first two ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Fill with cream or milk and stir.

    • Dragon Cocktail

      Chinese New Year will soon be upon us, bringing with it the consumerism of Christmas, the excitement of New Year's and the special dishes and flavors of Thanksgiving. Celebrated in January or February, the Chinese New Year (or just New Year, in some places) is the most important holiday of the year for countries that follow the Lunar Calendar.

      At Palazzo and the Venetian, guests can sample the Dragon Cocktail, so named because the new year is the year of the dragon. The drink features Asian flavors like lemongrass and ginger paired with vodka and garnished with a sprig of tarragon. Sample it at Zine Noodles Dim Sum and bars around the resort, or mix up a glass at home. — Sara Feldberg

      Ingredients

      1 1/2 oz. Vodka

      1/2 oz. Ginger liqueur

      1/2 oz. Lime juice

      1 Sprig of tarragon

      1/3 oz. Lemongrass syrup

      Lemon rind

      Method: In a cocktail shaker, mix all ingredients and shake vigorously. Finely strain in a coupette glass. Top with a squeeze of lemon rind to release essential oils. Discard rind and garnish with a sprig of tarragon. To make the lemongrass syrup at home, chop lemongrass into a 20-ounce pitcher of water. Add a 1/2 pound of very fine sugar and stir until it dissolves. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

      Prefer to start the New Year on a non-alcoholic note? Try green tea with rosemary, chili and lemon: Brew green tea, float lemon wheels, add fresh rosemary sprigs and a few chili pods and sweeten with simple syrup.

    • To salt or not to salt?

      Original Margarita

      Everyone knows the margarita. Nicki Minaj wants hers with “salt all around that rim, rim, rim.” Jimmy Buffett named a “ville” after it. But what you might not know is where the story of the classic cocktail really began.

      In October 1941, a girl named Margarita Henkel walked into a bar called Hussong’s Cantina in Baja California, Mexico. The bartender, Don Carlos Orozco, offered her a concoction, and because she was the first person ever to try the cocktail, he named it after her. Seventy-plus years later, the margarita continues to be one of America’s most beloved libations.

      Hussong’s Baja has a sister restaurant at Mandalay Place that carries on the Don Carlos legacy with the Original Margarita ($14). Serving about 150 a day, it’s one of their most popular drinks. It’s invigoratingly fresh and simple. Margarita Henkel must have been some kinda lady. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      2 oz. Clase Azul reposado tequila

      1 oz. triple sec

      1 oz. agave nectar

      1 1/2 oz. lime juice (from half a lime)

      Kosher salt (for rim)

      Method: Rim pint glass with lime juice and kosher salt. Squeeze half a lime into mixing glass. Put lime into shaker with ice. Add tequila, triple sec and agave nectar to mixing glass. Shake and pour.

    • Yokai

      Got milk? Social House at Crystals does. Just when you thought you might not be getting enough wholesome calcium and Vitamin D, Social House General Manager Michael LaPorte presents the Yokai ($14).

      This after-dinner cocktail is named after a mystical shapeshifting Japanese creature. And as its namesake portends, watch out. Soothing hints of wood, vanilla, caramel and brown sugar are in fact from Pyrat, Jim Beam and Amaretto. These powerful dark spirits lie subtly beneath enchanting nutmeg and the creaminess of whole milk. Mix up a glass and you have a belly-warming recipe to savor all fall and winter long. Enjoy one after an evening feast at Social House or pair it with ginger snaps for a nightcap at home. It’s the kind of cocktail that just does the body good. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      1 1/4 oz. Pyrat rum

      3/4 oz. Jim Beam bourbon

      3/4 oz. Disaronno Amaretto

      3/4 oz. vanilla syrup

      4 oz. whole milk grated nutmeg (garnish)

      Method: Add ice and all ingredients to a Boston mixer and shake vigorously. Pour contents into a rocks glass. Top with grated nutmeg.

    • Berry-Ginger

      Ginger has sprouted in the mixology world like a seed on Miracle-Gro. The ingredient’s rise in popular demand has taken on an Asian flair at the Mirage’s Japonais, where the new Berry-Ginger ($14) brings the kitchen to the cocktail glass.

      Fresh blueberries and a touch of caramelized ginger from the pastry chef make this a must. The refreshing libation was introduced to the menu several months ago by Japonais lounge manager Brandon Jones and is currently one of their biggest sellers.

      “A lot of drinks use fruit juice and syrups. In Berry-Ginger, I wanted to use all fresh ingredients,” Jones says. “Personally, I like to know what’s in my cocktail and strive to provide that experience for our customers.” — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      3 oz. Ty-Ku shochu

      1 oz. fresh lime juice

      1 oz. agave syrup

      8 blueberries

      3 slices of cut ginger root

      candied ginger (garnish)

      Method: Muddle cut ginger, lime juice and seven blueberries. Add agave syrup and shochu. Shake with ice. Double strain through a Hawthorne strainer and fine strainer into a martini glass. Garnish with one blueberry and a piece of candied ginger.

    • The Vesper

      For the smooth operator who’s always dreamed of requesting “shaken, not stirred” in the midst of a high-stakes poker game. For the damsel who desires to be a secret agent’s love interest. For them, Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis presents the Vesper ($14), available by request and soon to be on the menu.

      Power and grace define this martini, named after bombshell Bond girl Vesper Lynd. Hank’s longstanding bartender, Phil Roman, reinterpreted the classic recipe from "Casino Royale," and the result is refreshingly elegant. Tanqueray No. Ten provides complexity and aphrodisiac aromas with hints of vanilla and juniper. Lillet Blanc adds balanced sweetness, while Belvedere soothes any bitterness and completes a savory long-lasting finish. Sip one at the Green Valley Ranch steakhouse before a luscious, chandelier-lit dinner or shake up a Vesper at home for some 007-style role playing. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      3 oz. Tanqueray No. Ten

      1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc

      Lemon twist

      Method: Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill a Boston shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add ingredients. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

    • I Heart Mary

      There’s nothing better to nurse a Las Vegas hangover than a fresh Bloody Mary. I Heart Burgers at Town Square presents the I Heart Mary ($8), a vodka/tomato juice combo that makes for ultimate hair-of-the-dog bliss.

      It used to be that truly good Bloody Mary mix was a chore to make from scratch; however, Demitri’s user-friendly seasoning is spicy and zesty with hints of chili and black pepper.

      The final touch that puts the love into the I Heart Mary is a slice of crispy grilled bacon. What better to satisfy that morning-after thirst and hunger? So get the pork cracklin’ and mix up a batch at home, or visit bar manager Tammy Patterson at I Heart Burgers for a hangover helper with a smile. — Sabrina Chapman.

      Ingredients:

      2 oz. Ketel One vodka

      3 oz. Bloody Mary mix (see below)

      1 slice of bacon

      Demitri’s Bacon RimShot!

      Method: Gently moisten the rim of a 12 oz. glass, then press into saucer of Demitri’s Bacon RimShot! Add ice to the glass. Combine Bloody Mary mix with vodka in a shaker and shake. Pour mixture into glass and garnish with a strip of crispy bacon. For Bloody Mary mix: Mix 32 ounces of tomato juice with two ounces of Demitri’s Classic Recipe Bloody Mary Seasoning.

    • Todd's Sssweet Tea

      Leave it to chef Todd English to master a cocktail that’s sugar, spice and everything nice with a touch of hotness ... just the way Las Vegas likes it. At Todd English P.U.B. in Crystals he presents Todd’s Sssweet Tea ($15).

      Although most associate English with the East Coast, the three-time James Beard Award winner spent his early childhood in Georgia, the motherland of sweet tea.

      “There’s definitely nostalgia of hot summers in the South in this cocktail," he said. "Reminds me of mom’s sun-kissed sweet tea with a lil’ kick to it. And the spice of the Red Stag really brings out the flavors in food.”

      So shake up a batch at home to kick back and cool down, or head to the P.U.B. and pair this refreshing libation with savory chicken wings and home-style BBQ. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      1 1/2 oz. Red Stag Cinnamon Bourbon

      2 oz. iced tea

      2 lemon wedges

      1/4 oz. simple syrup

      1/2 oz. soda water

      Method: Fill shaker with ice, Red Stag, simple syrup and iced tea. Squeeze lemons into shaker. Shake. Pour into Mason jar glass. Top with soda water.

    • Moscow Mule

      The art of reviving a classic cocktail lies in the seamless interplay between the rim of the glass, the cut of the ice and the quality of the ingredients. When done properly, it is a moment of instant euphoria. Prepare to fall in libation infatuation with American Fish’s Moscow Mule ($12).

      The Moscow Mule first hit the market in the late 1940s, after a few struggling vodka executives — a man with a warehouse of copper mugs and a restaurateur/ginger beer purveyor — crossed paths. The result was a concoction that swept across the country and boosted vodka’s popularity.

      Settle in at home for ahhing refreshment or cruise over to American Fish at Aria to see bartender Matt Harmon and enjoy his expertise while condensation beads along the copper melt the day’s worries away. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      2 oz.  Stolichnaya vodka

      3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

      1/2 oz. simple syrup

      4 oz. Fever-Tree ginger beer

      Lime peel (for garnish)

      Method: Pour ingredients in a copper mug over ice. Garnish with fresh lime peel.

    • Mixologist Emilio Tiburcio updates the classic cocktail at Lily inside Bellagio.

      Manhattan

      If there is a cocktail worthy of being called the quintessential drink of Vegas, it is the Manhattan ($20), as made by mixologist Emilio Tiburcio of Lily. Not for its flash, love of excess or thrill of the game, but for an eloquence in presentation that speaks pure power. The Vegas of insiders and influencers.

      Tiburcio doesn’t reinvent the wheel in this classic cocktail; he just makes the ride that much smoother. The libation begins before a sip is taken with the visceral effect from an ice sphere resting delicately in a pool of deep amber.

      “In every sip, you experience a different journey,” Tiburcio explains. “And when you hold the Manhattan, it is as if you are holding the world in the palm of your hand.”

      Build a bourbon empire in a snifter glass at home, or for a night on the town less "Hangover" and more Rat Pack, head to Lily at the Bellagio and let Tiburcio show you the way. — Sabrina Chapman

      Ingredients:

      2 oz. Russell’s Reserve 10-year Bourbon

      1 oz. Dolin sweet vermouth

      1/5 oz. dark cherry juice

      Dash of Aztec chocolate bitters

      Lemon zest

      Ice sphere

      Method: To build cocktail, first put ice sphere in a snifter glass. Add Russell’s Reserve, then Dolin sweet vermouth, then dash of Aztec chocolate bitters, followed by cherry juice. Zest the glass with lemon peel. Swirl once to chill and serve.

    • Lavo's Saggio

      Eighty-five. That’s how many cocktails Tao Group Director of Beverage Tim Keller tasted with the company’s partners when they were deciding on the menu for Lavo at the Palazzo. They sipped, swirled and analyzed, then boiled down the roster to 10 signature libations ranging from the bubbly Lavolini to the coolly fruity Uva Bianco. And the drinks sell. In more than three years, they’ve hardly changed a thing.

      That’s not because Keller played it safe with Lavo’s cocktail list. He says they skipped the ubiquitous standards for original beverages with more balance and personality.

      “A cosmopolitan is a cosmopolitan anywhere,” he says.

      And a mojito is a mojito. Instead, Keller recommends the Saggio ($14), a refreshing drink with all the herbaceousness of a mojito but made with sage and lemon juice for a bright citrus note that balances out the drink’s Stoli Blueberi base. It’s a cocktail that’s all about aroma, freshness and immediate gratification. Just how Keller likes it. — Sara Feldberg

      Ingredients:

      1 3/4 oz. Stoli Blueberi

      1/4 oz. simple syrup

      1/4 oz. lemon juice

      10 sage leaves

      1 oz. white cranberry juice

      1/4 oz. soda

      Method: Muddle the sage in a rocks glass with the lemon juice. Pour contents into a shaker and add all ingredients except the soda. Add ice to shaker and shake vigorously. Pour entire contents back into the original rocks glass. Top with soda and garnish with a sprig of sage.

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