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Bon Appetit's Culinary & Wine Focus: Cocktail Smackdown at the Wynn Las Vegas

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May 22, 2007 at 1:56 PM | by | Comment (1)

As we promised yesterday, we have the full report from the Wynn Las Vegas where Bon Appetit hosted a Cocktail Smackdown with features editor Hugh Garvey. We also promised video but we are having some issues with the audio so we'll get it up when we can. (Our camera must have gotten drunk again.)

Now, about the event. Attendees piled into the hotel lounge Lure where two rows of bar stools were placed in front of the long bar for guests to watch the demonstrations. The bar stools were a fitting choice for this presentation but they were really uncomfortable. And it was hard for people to sit down in them and get out of them. Remember, at a bar you can grab the bar for support when sitting down and getting up.

Click through for the full Cocktail Smackdown report

Billed as a "cocktail smackdown" we initially thought of chugging, drinks being thrown into faces and just general cocktail aggression. But this event was really tame, like a seminar of sorts. Hugh Garvey was a charming, camera-ready type of host who talked a bit at first about the world of cocktails today before launching into the cocktail masterpieces. On hand, were two beautiful girls in sparkling gold cocktail uniforms to serve the drinks. This is Vegas you know.

According to Garvey, mixologists (not bartenders) think like a chef, carefully considering the ingredients and using absolute precision to make the drinks. There are also no fancy Cocktail/Tom Cruise bartender moves going on here. Rather, there is only a precise yet vigorous amount of shaking that goes into mixing a drink. The rest is about being creative, putting new spins on old favorites and enticing customers to try drinks beyond their comfort zone.

The cocktails were served with Garvey working the crowd in a sort of Q&A session while the mixologists chimed in on trends they are seeing today. Master mixologist Patricia Richards, who works at Wynn, commented that our palettes are getting more sensitive and that we are demanding more layering in our dishes and in our cocktails.

She certainly believes that with her own creation, The Geisha, which was our favorite drink of the seminar. Made with vodka and sake liqueur, the drink is layered with two different kinds of syrup. So it's very sweet and perfect for the girly drink lovers.

Our next favorite was the French 75--a gin and champagne concoction that originated in France and is named after a popular handgun used in both WWI and II. We had a disastrous experience with Gin and Juice in high school when our group of friends tried to emulate Snoop Dogg, so we had pretty much written off gin forever. Yet this drink had only a slight gin taste and for us, it was really a new take on champagne. Besides, how can you not like a drink that has powdered sugar in it?

Also served up was a Dirty Vodka Martini, a Classic Margarita with Cointreau and two rum drinks. Don't worry, you weren't obligated to finish all the drinks. It was more like take a few sips and return them back to the servers. Although, after the second drink we needed to hit the cheese and crackers tables for some substance.

Bon Appetit thoughtfully supplied each guest with recipes for the drinks served so we decided to share with you the recipe for The Geisha. Enjoy and drink responsibly.

The Geisha

1 1/2 oz of Xellent Vodka

1 oz of Tyku Sake liquer

1 oz of fresh sweet & sour

1/2 oz Trader Vic's rock candy syrup

1/4 oz Sonoma Syrup Co.'s white ginger-infused simple syrup

Combine all of the above ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glas. Garnish with a thin bias-cut slice of fresh ginger propped on rim of glass and a spiral of fresh lemon. Serve.

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· Bon Appetit's Culinary and Wine Focus: The Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace [HotelChatter]

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Story notes

The bar stools really screwed me up b/c I had sort of a big bag and both seats next to me were taken. I was trying to jot down notes and take pictures but I had to keep getting stuff out of my bag on the floor which was unreachable when I was sitting on the stool.

Also, I was in the second row so all my pictures have some man's shoulder in them that I had to cut out. I tried really hard to take pics of girls in sparkling gold dresses and the drinks but it just was not working for me. So I decided to sit back and enjoy the drinks instead.

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