Las Vegas is my favorite vacation destination. It's an easy jaunt, and I know I'll have a great time, no matter my budget. When I head up there, I spend an awful lot of time at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The atmosphere there is different from the blasé mass appeal of MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertanment properties. Hip music pulses through the place, casino dealers can show some personality without getting fired, and there's great contemporary art everywhere you look.
The star of the show to me is the food and beverage program, especially the beverages. On previous visits, I fell in love with ethereal vintage cocktails from Vesper, and wildly inventive mixology hiding in plain sight on the one-and-a-half floor of The Chandelier. For my most recent Vegas trip, I decided to check out the offerings at Book & Stage. By day, it's a laid-back sports bar (helmed most days by Jenny, one of my favorite bartenders in all the land); by night, it's a venue for free concerts that rock the casino.
I sampled a few of Book & Stage's offerings, but the one that caught my attention was the Stunning Man. It's the most labor-intensive cocktail I've seen. The damn thing makes mojitos look simple by comparison. You have to muddle blackberries, shake the drink extra-hard due to the inclusion of egg white, double-strain the drink to remove the muddled blackberry bits, and more. Suffice it to say, the drink is an absolute pain in the ass to make. It takes a full five minutes to make it right, but it's worth every second.