Our group had a big private lunch at the new Michael Mina restaurant American Fish. The food was interesting, but you don't come to Alcademics to read about meals. The drink menu at American Fish is probably the most ambitious in City Center, featuring many of my favorite classic cocktails like the Vieux Carre, Monkey Gland, East India Cocktail, Brandy Crusta, and Pegu Club. We weren't being served cocktails during lunch but I managed to sneak in one Vieux Carre that was dry and delicious. Vegas cocktail jackpot!
Next we went to the adjacent hotel in CityCenter, Vdara, and had drinks at the lobby bar called, shockingly, Bar Vdara.
The drinks at Vdara included two with a 'house East India fixer' a spiced syrup. We ordered one with that and rangpur gin and maraschino liqueur, one with chartreuse, rum, and kaffir lime leaves, and a pisco drink with guava liqueur. Two out of the three drinks were far too sweet for our liking, but that is a theme in Vegas.
Next up was restaurant Julian Serrano, where the drinks read really interestingly on the menu (one drink had absinthe, Spanish brandy, espresso, and cream) but all except one out of five cocktails we ordered were not up to par. I wasn't sure if it was the fault of the recipe or that nobody jigger pours to measure cocktail ingredients in Vegas.
Wait a minute- at least one does. The Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel jigger pours their specialty cocktails.These were designed by Charlotte Voissey and many contain Hendrick's Gin or Milagro Tequila, and none of them break any new ground in terms of flavor profile (cucumber and tequila, basil and gin, Hendrick's/Aperol Negroni) but we found them all to be balanced. And a $20 and $22 each, they sure should be!
After that, I headed to Beso the restaurant co-owned by Eva Longoria Parker, along with the club Eve upstairs. The venue is a pre-party dining spot to the club and had loud music playing during the meal, but they also served some interesting cocktails including one with tequila and sweet potato puree. That was a surprise.
Finally, we left CityCenter to get one drink somewhere else. Unfortunately we chose Rhum Bar at the Mirage, where the drinks were god-awful sweet. The "Original Mai Tai" included an extra dose of rock candy syrup, and they massacred Audrey Saunder's Old Cuban with too much sugar and instead of bubbly champagne something that probably bubbled up from the sewer.
Short answer: Michael Mina' American Fish for classic cocktails, Mandarin Oriential Bar for refreshing cucumbery ones with a terrific view.
Gotta run- another day of sampling ahead....