Served in a flask and high in alcohol content, a Boulder Dam cocktail is in many ways the kind of drink a dam worker in the 1930s might have carried for a quick nip on the job. The dry ice fog that rises as the drink is poured even conjures images of mist seeping around dam walls on winter mornings. The Golden Knight, on the other hand, is pure 2018 — a boozy tribute to the NHL’s western conference champions. Served on a hockey puck in a miniature ice rink thick with its own artificial fog, it’s even accompanied by a miniature knight’s helmet. Each is a finely crafted blend of high-end spirits. Sitting side-by-side on a table with one of the best views of the Las Vegas Strip in town, however, they take you on journey from what the valley once was to what it is today. And that’s exactly the intention of the cocktail menu at newly christened Skybar inside the new Waldorf Astoria hotel.
The transition of the Mandarin Oriental into a Waldorf property, and the accompanying conversion of its iconic 23rd-floor Mandarin Bar to Skybar, has been subtle. The newly introduced bar program, however, is ambitious and bold.
“With a new identity, we wanted to have something that was going to be really special, a totally different direction from what we had before,” explains Ryan Stock, food and beverage operations manager for Skybar and the adjacent Tea Lounge.
What he and mixologist William Perbellini created was a four-part menu paying tribute to the valley’s history.
“Las Vegas has a really unique timeline over only the last 100 years that has created all this from basically nothing,” says Stock, referencing the skyline on display through the lounge windows. “So we wanted to tell that (story) and translate that into this menu.”
The section labeled “Where It All Started” pays tribute to the earliest settlers of the valley with cocktails that often rely heavily on agave-based spirits and other desert flora, served in vessels that reflect the time.
“If I think about 1850s in the desert, I think about minerality, salinity, citrus,” says Perbellini. “I (also) think about different materials: metal, wood, terra cotta mugs. There were no fancy glasses.”
The team uses similar touches to conjure up each time period reflected on the menu. “It Begins” pays homage to the eras of downtown’s infamous Block 16 drinking district, Prohibition and dam construction. “Classic Vegas” reimagines the drinks of the Rat Pack and mushroom cloud-viewing parties. And “Las Vegas Today” includes cocktails paying tribute to The Golden Knights, the Strip and the Waldorf itself.
With more than 100 years of local history reflected in its drinks, Skybar manages to take this CityCenter property into its own bold new era.