ELV doesn’t have an alcohol problem, he just pretends he does whenever George Sproule and his band of merry mixologists are whipping things up at the Downtown Cocktail Room.
When things aren’t too busy (like early last Saturday night), and they’ve just brought in a bounty of limequats, loquats, aprium and figs from Molto Mario’s Farmer’s Market, the bar at DCR becomes their laboratory of licentious libations.
They muddle, they stir, they shake, they adjust and they season — always looking for the perfect balance of booze to fruit, and other accents to the alcohol.
So good have cocktails gotten in Vegas (thanks to pioneers like Tony Abou-Ganim and acolytes of his like George, Nectaly Mendoza and Patricia Richards), that the idea of a mixed drink out of a gun or a pre-made mix now seems as foreign to us as settling for frozen fish or mealy tomatoes.
The cocktail revolution as we know it really began in New York City in the early ’90’s with proselytizers like Dale DeGroff and Steve Olson preaching the gospel of good liquor blended with impeccable, fresh ingredients.
It took a while for the movement to reach our humble burg, but in the past five years, things have exploded here with a vengeance. Example #1: If you look closely at the restaurants of Aria/City Center, most of them spend more effort promoting their specialty cocktails than they do their (mostly unexceptional) wine lists.
Along with this progress has come the elevation of the humble barkeep into significant soothsayers of sagacious, savory and sweet sedatives. Back when ELV was bartending, the ability to open a beer and pour one jigger into cocktail glass was the extent of expertise needed. For anything else, we had a dog-eared copy of an Old Mr. Boston cocktail manual by the cash register. We didn’t learn much about mixology back then, but did learn that, next to being a professional athlete or a great looking musician, tending bar was the best way to get more action than Frank Sinatra.
ELV is far too polite to discuss such things with George S.. Besides, we’re usually too busy tasting, savoring and cogitating over the hellaciously haunting and happy hooch he’s handing us.
As DeGroff has said, “…cocktails have been taken out of the beverage category into something culinary. Bartenders have to look at their bars like a chef would look at his kitchen.”
True, and what ELV has learned in the eighteen years since he first sipped a classic, Hemingway daiquiri made by Dale at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, is that you can drink less, enjoy it more, and wake up with less of a hangover.
What you do in between should only be discussed with your favorite bartender.
As for those of you who don’t drink, all we at ELV can do is quote the Chairman of the Board (our spiritual bar mate) about the sad state of such affairs: “The trouble with not drinking is, when you wake up in the morning, that’s the best you’re gonna feel all day.”
Or, to finally put a cork in it, remember to enjoy yourself (in moderation of course), since, in an MMMBop, it’ll all be gone.