The weather in Las Vegas is not the only thing heating up these days. Increasingly bars and restaurants are offering spicy cocktails and martinis to patrons looking to spice things up a little. The trend has been popping up on menus all along the strip from fashionable bars to full scale restaurants. So that peron you see out on a date with a perspiring brow may not be reacting to the blistering Las Vegas sun or the pressure of being out on a first date. They may just be taking a sip of one of Las Vegas' hottest cocktails.
Agua de Serrano, Julian Serrano at Aria
This colourful tapas restaurant is tucked in behind the main lobby of the swanky Aria resort. With cushioned seating to rest your weary legs it's an enjoyable place to sit among the purple, orange, and yellow hues. The restaurant boasts a wonderful assortment of tapas (read: bite sized deliciousness) that range from the unique (such as tuna-raspberry skewers) to the sublime (a la goat cheese marmalade cake). Stretching numerous culinary categories they offer ceviche and seafood, cheese and charcuterie, vegetarian, meat and poultry tapas and paellas. If you've never had tapas — this is an excellent place to try it out. For a treat, let your server know your likes and dislikes and allow the chef to tantalize your taste buds with their choice of dishes. Tapas range from 10 to 20 dollars with some higher priced imported items from Spain.
For beverage selection at Julian Serrano you are presented with an iPad that is running their branded cocktails and wine app. It includes in-depth tasting notes, pictures, prices and recommendations. A fun way to search for something new to drink.
Their foray into spicy drinks is the Agua de Serrano ($14). A combination of Patrón Citronage, 10 Cane Rum, Spanish cava wine, orange, and habanero-agave syrup served with a habanero pepper on the glass. Deliciously balanced it leads with the fruit juice flavour that's followed with a punch of heat. I recommend pairing with their delicious Tuna Cones — ahi tartare with cucumber, avocado and ponzu in wonton cones.
Heat of The Moment, Brand Steakhouse at Monte Carlo
Brand Steakhouse does not have the greatest view in Las Vegas, but is ideally located for the gambler who doesn't want to stray too far from their favourite slot machine. Set in the middle of the Monte Carlo casino floor, you can keep an eye on the goings-on at the tables while enjoying the cozy restaurant atmosphere. Candle lit with good food and cheerful staff, it's not hard to see why the restaurant is usually buzzing. While people certainly visit for the steaks, such as the 120oz Ultimate Steak for Six I'm fairly certain it would be worth going for the bread alone. Cooked in butter and served in a hot skillet it steals some of the spotlight from the other delicious offerings on the menu. Brand does offer seafood, chicken and a number of other items for those less beef-inclined.
Their current signature cocktail is the Heat of The Moment. Made with Espolon Blanco, fresh lime and passion fruit with smoking hot Fresno chiles and hot peppers. The sugar rimmed glass is a nice touch to balance the heat of the peppers and the drink as a whole is a great accompaniment to cut through the massive main dishes and sides.
El Diablo, Mandarin Bar at Mandarin Oriental
While providing a modest bar menu to placate those interested in a late night nibble, if you're at the Mandarin Bar you're there for the drinks, the vibe and the incredible panoramic view of the Strip. Located on the 23rd floor of the hotel the bar oozes chic. Stylish couches make it a great place to hang out with a group.
Having recently appointed Priscilla Young as GM of the Mandarin Bar, the hotel is putting mixology at the forefront. With a background including Beverage Manager/Mixologist and Sommelier, in 2011 she was named the San Francisco winner of the Bloom Gin’s “Best Cocktail” award. The drink menu clearly reflects the celebration of the cocktail. With dozens of drinks in various cocktail categories (tea, champagne and vintage to name a few) you could visit for a month and never have the same drink twice.
The El Diablo was originally created in 1947 and was one of the first tequila cocktails created. It makes an appearance on the Mandarin Bar Vintage Cocktails menu as a spicy yet refreshing cocktail using Corzo Tequila, Cedilla, lime juice and ginger beer ($18). A bit like having your favourite fruit punch spiked with a hit of Red Rooster sauce, the cocktail is not for the faint of heart (or heart burn).