The Whiskey Bar at Rí Rá is rightfully proud of its bottles.
Before Prohibition, Irish whiskey was the most popular whiskey category in the U.S. While it can’t claim to have retaken that mantle, it has experienced an incredible surge in demand in recent years. Sales of premium Irish whiskey are up 459 percent since 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and up 17.9 percent over last year, according to The Irish Times.
Not long ago, many Americans ordered Irish whiskey only on St. Patrick’s Day. Now, thanks to the huge popularity of Jameson shots and picklebacks, along with the expansion of high-end expressions, we’re learning to appreciate the clean, smooth, nonpeated character of the category. “Irish whiskey has become a drink for both local Las Vegans and visitors,” says Tim Herlihy, brand ambassador for Tullamore Dew. “It’s particularly versatile, and unlike categories with slightly more defined techniques when sipping, there are no rules for Irish whiskey.
You can find Tullamore Dew Original and the 12-year expression at the Cromwell, DB Brasserie, and Delmonico Steakhouse, where it sits among about 40 labels, including 18-and 21-year expressions from Jameson and Bushmills, plus a 1994 Knappogue Castle 17-year Sherry Cask Finish, Greenore 18-year Limited Release, and the incredibly tasty (and rare) Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy. Over at the Talon Club, in addition to Kilbeggan, Jameson, and Black Bush, you’ll find Teelings, a label launched by sons of a longtime distillery worker whose goal is to bring independent distilling back to Dublin.
When you’re ready to dive deep into the category, head to the Whiskey Bar at Rí Rá, where you’ll find 57 different bottles, from Tullamore Dew Original to revived single-pot still variations like Redbreast 15-year. Feeling particularly celebratory? Opt for the Knappogue Vintage 1951, carefully served at $350 per pour. Slàinte!
Menu Favorites from Made L.V.
Well-loved restauranteurs Elizabeth Blau and chef Kim Canteenwalla’s new space at Tivoli Village is primed to be the nabe’s best hangout. At Made L.V., look for comfort-food favorites with a twist (try the unlikely but delicious pastrami-style eggplant sandwich, smothered in caramelized onions and Swiss cheese) and healthy touches like the terrific Tivoli Market salad with Tuscan kale, upland cress, hearts of palm, radish, avocado, dried cherries, puffed rice, and chai seed dressing. 702-722-2000
Mercadito x Red Rock
Alfredo and Patricio Sandoval have developed a cult following for their fish tacos at Mercadito in Chicago and New York. Now they’ve brought their amped-up street fare to Red Rock in a long, low-key room that’s part of a massive, $35 million revamp. There are nine tacos on the menu, but don’t miss the espada—exclusive to Vegas, with blackened swordfish, a green tomato slaw, and habañero aioli. Another winner: the trio of guacamoles. Wash it all down with a V-9, a virtuous-looking concoction of fresh pineapple juice, lime, “supergreens,” and ginger, made a little naughty with El Tesoro Blanco tequila. Another location opens in Green Valley Ranch this fall. Red Rock Resort, 702-797-7777
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEX LUKIN (WHISKEY); BILL MILNE (MADE L.V.); DREW TEMPLETON (TACOS)