Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren’t unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we’ve enlisted some of our city’s beverage players to share their recommendations for a random feature dubbed Cocktail Confidential. Know a bartender who wants to share some top cocktail spots? The tipline is open.
Just call Mariena Mercer the goddess of tequila, maker of novelty cocktails, and empress of edible drinks. The chef mixologist at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas just came out with a new line of drinks that pay homage to Alice in Wonderland and find homes at the resort’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie. and Chandelier Bar. The Las Vegas native landed her first job at Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian, then moved on to Treasure Island to be the resort’s tequila wizard. Two years lager, she landed at the Silverton as the head bartender, and started adding molecular mixology to her repertoire at Dos Caminos at the Palazzo. Here she shares some of her favorite places to drink in Las Vegas.
Which bars or lounges do you turn to when you’re not working?
What are some of the most memorable cocktails you’ve had in Las Vegas?
At Velveteen Rabbit, Lookin Like a Snack has dill-infused gin, dry vermouth, ancho verde green chile, and corn cream. I love culinary-forward cocktails and these bold flavors deliver. This is one of those cocktails that instantly elicits a smile, as it’s such interesting flavors that are layered in every sip.
The Dorsey has The Texico with El Tesoro Blanco, Dolin dry vermouth, citrus, Granny Smith apple juice, orgeat and egg whites and is indicative of Sam Ross’ style — classic and beautiful in its simplicity. The Granny Smith apple juice is juiced to order and every time I order it, I feel like I’m biting into the most fresh and delicious apple I’ve ever had… with tequila, so it’s a win all around.
The Sukumviht Sour at Starboard Tack is incredible! It is tamarind-infused Mekong Thai spirit, jasmine syrup, lime, and Aquafaba in a traditional Thai water cup. This cocktail really nails the complexity and balance of Thai cuisine. It’s basically a vacation to Thailand in a beautiful golden vessel.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Velveteen Rabbit is a fabulous force of creativity in absolutely every way. The bartenders are fantastic, the cocktails are some of the most creative in town, and the music and art is always so hip and fascinating. Velveteen Rabbit is definitely the place I bring people in from out of town that I want to impress or a date night with my husband.
The Dorsey is like being transported to a New York cocktail bar. I love saddling up to the bar and letting the bartender Liz make me whatever her current favorite cocktail is. Stylistically their drinks are very different than mine and I really enjoy the juxtaposition.
Starboard Tack is one of the best kept secrets in town. It’s a neo-classical Rum bar with Polynesian inspired food with all of the bar seats taken up by the coolest kids in Vegas. The drinks are irreverent and cheeky, the food delicious, and the company delightfully varied.
Are there any outstanding coffee cocktails that you enjoy? Where do you go?
Makers & Finders is a great place for a cup of coffee, a cocktail, or a little from column “A” and “B.” The Equalizer #2 is my favorite coffee cocktail with a mix of vermouths, PX sherry, cold brew coffee, lemon juice, and raw sugar. It’s basically all of my favorite things mixed together.
What about breakfast or brunch drinks? Where do you go?
Parasol Up at Wynn is a great place for a brunch-time cocktail. Andrew Pollard and I have a shared affinity for sherry, so I love tasting his creations. The Sundown Soiree has citrus vodka, amaro, pineapple, cardamom, and Manzananilla sherry. It is tart, balanced, and bitter and is a delicious pre-brunch cocktail to get your appetite going.
Where do you like to stop for a wide selection of beer?
Atomic Liquors is the place for beer in Las Vegas, hands down. I also meet the greatest people when I saddle up to the bar for a beer there. Even though it is in the heart of downtown, it just feels like a down-home neighborhood bar: great company, a vast selection of interesting beers, and bartenders who always remember your name.
• All Cocktail Confidentials [ELV]