Las Vegas hails as one of the most popular destinations in the world, hosting over 40 million visitors on an annual basis. One of the best draws? Gloriously inspired food and drink!
Food and Cocktail Trends in 2015:
- Unknown fish make it big.The introduction of lesser-known fish species will become a hip addition to more menus according to Chef Rick Moonen of Mandalay Bay’s Rx Boiler Room and RM Seafood. The demand for sustainable seafood remains as strong as ever, prompting restaurants to explore responsibly sourced options and alternatives to American menu staples. “As chefs are exposed to the amazing variety of seafood that is available they will start to go nuts!” Moonen predicts. Diners can expect more non-traditional fish to crop up on menus, following the lead of current offerings such as Salt Water Barramundi at Sage at ARIA, and sea-to-table options, like “Rick’s Sustainable Catch of the Day” at RM Seafood.
- Bitter gets bigger. A flavor profile traditionally associated with mixology, bitter elements will make big moves in the kitchen in 2015. According to Joshua Smith, executive chef of soon-to-open BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA, unique ingredients will rise to prominence as chefs incorporate bitter flavors for balance in cooking. Since bitter is a crucial component of traditional French cooking, Smith emphasizes it on the menu of this new Las Vegas restaurant (opening January 2015), utilizing ingredients such as vermouth, endives, escarole and frisee. He also makes his own black pepper bitters for the restaurant’s Sauce Au Poivre, and flambés peppercorn-brandy bitters for an extra pop in the dish.
- New approaches to booze-inspired food. In 2015, both Moonen and Smith expect to see alcohol influence dishes in unexpected ways, driving new approaches to the concept of booze-infused food. “Ingredients used to make beer and cocktails will start to appear in food preparations,” says Moonen, citing examples such as malted barley added as a crunch in salads, dried spelt grains used for crusts and juniper berry sauces served with game meat. Smith adds that he will be using high-end wines including La Vieille Ferme Rouge and Blanc during cooking to elevate recipes, and incorporating unique alcohols into dishes, such as Blue Crab Crêpe with Normandy cider beurre blanc.
- Inventive cuisine tastes better together.According to Bellagio Executive Chef Edmund Wong, group dining concepts will continue to gain popularity, partly due to the increasing spending power of millennials, who subscribe to the idea that the ultimate dining experience is one that’s shared with friends, family and their social networks. Prime examples include shareable menus like the Plats Pour Deux Menu at BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA; Italian social plates at Julian Serrano’s Lago, opening in spring 2015 at Bellagio; and the shareable punch bowls served at Franklin at Delano Las Vegas. Additionally, chefs anticipate that we’ll see new (and renewed) takes on traditional shareable dishes: Moonen is predicting a resurgence of the retro Fondu, plus Asian-inspired social dining like Pu Pu Platters and Korean barbeque becoming regulars on contemporary restaurant menus.
- In-house infusions and more. A major trend to watch in Las Vegas’ growing cocktail scene is innovative in-house preparations (i.e. homemade infusions, smoked cocktails). Monte Carlo’s Director of Beverage Philip Dow believes guests will notice a much larger push toward “the quality of the craft.” Examples of intricate preparations can already be found throughout Las Vegas such as Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay, which funnels smoke from cedar chips into whiskey to create its Smoked Whiskey Cola. Also ahead of the curve, MGM Grand’s Whiskey Down infuses its whiskey with mint in-house to create its signature Whiskey in a Jar cocktail. Sage at ARIA’s Smoke Missing Mirrors, visually smokes and smells of bourbon while the guest enjoys the smooth taste of cognac.
- Champagne’s not just for celebrating.Champagne has always been an integral part of the Las Vegas experience, and now we’re seeing it evolve as a wine to enjoy at all occasions – not just celebrations, says to Harley Carbery, director of wine at Mandalay Bay. Whether toasting a moment or paired alongside a course, guests can enjoy two of the largest selections of champagne in the city at Aureole and miX, both located at Mandalay Bay. Carbery expects more venues to expand their champagne offerings in 2015, noting ARIA’s Lobby Bar, which recently created a champagne-by-the glass menu curated by ARIA’s Director of Wine Kim Wood.
- Las Vegas emerges as a craft beer destination. As the craft beer revolution continues to take the world by storm, Las Vegas is steadily making its mark on the industry. Robert Parekh, general manager of TAP at MGM Grand, predicts hotels will focus on expanding their offerings in 2015, establishing bars and restaurants that are destinations for beer aficionados. Two popular local examples include The Pub at Monte Carlo, which offers more than 300 beers on tap; and Michael Mina’s PUB 1842, which sources a collection of international and hard-to-find brews. Additionally, Parekh says that we’ll see more of Las Vegas’ own microbrews making their way onto The Strip, exposing an international audience to local breweries like Big Dog’s, Banger Brewing and Joseph James. As a prime example, ARIA recently teamed up with Sin City Brewing Company to create a special edition extra pale ale available exclusively at the resort.
Here are three on-trend cocktails from Las Vegas hotel bars:
Sage at ARIA – Smoke Missing Mirrors
2 oz Paul Beau VS Cognac
½ oz Cocchi Torino
½ oz Hardy Pineau des Charentes
2 dashes Lavender Bitters
Whiskey Down at MGM Grand – Whiskey in the Jar
1 ½ oz of Mint-Infused Old Forester Bourbon
3 oz of fresh watermelon juice
½ oz of fresh lime juice
Top with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer
Served in a 12 oz Mason jar garnished with a fresh mint sprig and lime wedge.
Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay – Smoked Whiskey Cola
2.5 oz of Tennessee Whiskey
1.25 oz of cola
5 drops of cherry vanilla bitters
1 pinch of fresh ground cherry cedar bark and place in smoker (smoking gun)
.5 oz of Cointreau
1 oz of soda water
*smoke and serve on the rocks with 2 Luxardo cherries.
Photo Credit Biondo Photo