Tableside preparation on a guéridon (small cart) is one of those romantic notions left over from a more formal time. It sets an experience apart, making your table the center of attention in any dining room, and often the envy of everyone in it. Caesar salads, carved chateaubriand for two, bananas foster, Peking duck — these are just of the few of the classic items that can come to you in Las Vegas, instead of the other way around. But the guéridon treatment is not solely reserved for dinner. Cleverly outfitted with spirits, liqueurs, glassware and even liquid nitrogen, the cocktail cart is having a hay day. Here’s where to find one in Sin City:
’Tinis For Two, And Two For ’Tinis
Located at the heart of Red Rock Resort, Lucky Bar recently received a complete makeover both behind and around the bar. The new menu features novel half-bottle service and twists on classic cocktails—nothing too intimidating, just all-around crowd-pleasers that help make the center bar the hub of the casino action that it is. Also new to the program is a martini cart for two, offering your choice of gin or vodka, drinks shaken or stirred (most experts agree: stirred), with olives, blue cheese olives, a twist or onions. It would take you a while to try every combination, but it’s worth the investment.
So Cool It’s Hot
Sitting in the catbird seat at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bellagio is Hyde, a lounge and nightclub with more than one life. By night, the place is a madhouse: an opulent lakeside nightclub with views of the Bellagio fountains. Earlier in the evening (from 5 p.m. until the nightclub takes over at 10), the pace slows to a sexy crawl. Or rather a roll, as cocktail servers wheel about the ingenious custom liquid nitrogen cocktail cart, delighting guests with frozen Bellinis, Cable Cars, Elderflower Aviations and other treats inspired by the avant-garde culinary techniques of Spanish chef José Andrés. Lead barman Jose Zepeda Jr. tweaks those classic recipes to account for the freezing process, which results in a sorbet texture that slowly melts back to a cocktail — if it even lasts that long.
If it’s not fun, Sugar Factory American Brasserie (located at Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino) isn’t doing it. Belgian waffle sundae or Nutella pancakes for dinner? Why not? Here, adults are encouraged to be kids again, and everyone is a kid in this candy shop. So it’s no wonder that the custom tableside cocktail cart introduced at the 24/7 bistro comes with optional liquid nitrogen. In addition to Sugar Factory’s signature soccer-ball-size goblets, the new cocktail menu features pineapple and cotton candy-flavored Cosmopolitans, as well as candy-inspired creations including the Jolly Rancher (with watermelon liqueur, Three Olives Watermelon vodka and Monin Watermelon syrup), S’Mores (featuring Godiva Milk Chocolate liqueur) and Hubba Bubba (with Three Olives Bubble Gum vodka) — all of which can be given the liquid nitrogen treatment.
Get A Visit From The Green Fairy
Once upon a time in Las Vegas, restaurant manager Tobias Peach left behind a beautifully stocked absinthe cart in his wake wherever he worked. His final Vegas stop (he’s now at Restaurant 1883 in Carmel) was Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Sage restaurant, located inside the Four-Star ARIA Resort, where he truly outdid himself. Here, you can have any of 14 award-winning absinthes served your way: classic (sugar cube, absinthe spoon, water), Bohemian-style (in a snifter, set on fire and poured over ice while you inhale the remaining fumes), or from an absinthe sipping pipe, which simply must be seen to be believed. Peach’s calling card absinthe cart can also be found at Fleur by Hubert Keller in Mandalay Bay, where absinthe is served Sochi (or Russian , that is) style—flamed, in a snifter and poured into orange juice and bitters, again, while you inhale the fumes.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
It’s not often that you see a sommelier pushing a boat-size cart laden with liquor bottles through the middle of a dining room. But that’s exactly what you’ll see when at the end of a meal at the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Sirio Ristorante, when sommelier Catherine Morel rolls out the custom amaro cart. The elegant-yet-sizeable Cadillac of carts is currently stocked with more than 20 digestivi (after-dinner drinks) including amari (bitters including Fernet Branca, Zucca Rabarbaro and Nonino Quintessentia), grappa, port, brandy and Scotch. There is also a rotating selection of chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia’s house-made cellos, such as limoncello, cocoacello and trufflecello. (That last one tastes a lot better than it sounds.)
Photos courtesy of Sugar Factory and DREX