It takes a lot to get someone’s attention at The Cosmopolitan’s Clique Bar & Lounge, especially when there’s a DJ spinning tunes or an acoustic live performance underway.
In the spot located just steps from the casino floor, guests lounging in comfortable seating around the prime tables generally are immersed in their own world, concentrating on friends, music and some serious craft cocktails. Snapping them out of that private space in the midst of the clutter is no easy task. Yet when lead bartender Antony Sazerac rolls his cocktail cart up to one of those groups, or even a guest at the communal high-top tables closer to the bar, heads turn and necks crane around the lounge, thanks to entertaining preparations that rely on smoke, fire and other visual effects.
“We’re in a food and beverage niche that fits in with the entertainment capital of the world,” Sazerac says of the local cocktail scene. “I think when guests come to Las Vegas they’re looking for a very unique and authentic experience. You can go to an awesome cocktail bar in New York or D.C., but you can’t walk into a five billion dollar hotel and sit inside a chandelier and get a drink there.”
To further distinguish the venue, Sazerac has introduced a cocktail cart that rolls right up to each table so bartenders can provide a personalized experience for guests who don’t want to leave the comfort of their seats. And the specialties have as much drama and attitude as the city itself.
“There’s no reason to have a drink made tableside unless it’s fun and engaging when it’s prepared tableside,” he says. “So all of the drinks, whatever their flavor profile, they’ve also been geared around a visual presentation where it’s fun to watch the bartender make it in front of you.”
That can mean using a torch to brûlée a banana slice to accompany the Bow Street Banana, making egg whites almost magically rise out of a glass in the Joey Smokestack or just topping the Up All Night with a crazy sparkler.
Don’t let the flash and flair fool you, however. These aren’t the generic mixtures of icy technicolor sugar and booze that tourists carry in oversized plastic souvenir glasses as they prowl Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. These cocktails contain premium spirits, many infused in-house, as well as high-end bitters, syrups and custom-made garnishes. Not all of these touches are obvious at the table since many ingredients are pre-mixed to speed up the process. They are, however, undeniable in the finished product.
“I want you to have your silly super-fun cocktail,” Sazerac insists. “But I want you to know that that can still be a quality craft cocktail.”
It seems to be working. Sazerac says the cart has been equally popular with aficionados and newcomers alike.
“We get a lot of people who are cocktail nerds, and they want to know every single thing about every ingredient in there,” he explains. “And that’s awesome.”
“And then we have people who just want it to be this fun kind of Instagram-able, Snapchat-able kind of thing that they share with friends. And that’s cool too.”