By Robert Haynes-Peterson Photography by Jenna Dosch| May 4, 2015 |
Food & Drink
Las Vegas’s top female bartenders are ready for spring.
Rose Signor shakes up a Lavandula Oblongata at Atomic Liquors.
Las Vegas has no shortage of award-winning female bartenders and bar managers, and they’re running some of the largest and busiest programs in the world. We caught up with three of these extremely talented women, each of whom brings a unique style to her drinks, to see what they’re pouring for spring.
Rose Signor is a certified cicerone (or beer sommelier) and bar manager at the venerable, recently revitalized Atomic Liquors in Downtown Las Vegas (917 Fremont St., 702-982-3000). She got her start at age 22 at a bar called The Bounty Hunter, before moving to the old Bunkhouse next to Atomic Liquors during its renovations. “When I found out Atomic would have 20 tap handles and be pouring craft beer, I said I was in!”
This season Signor is excited about refreshing lower-alcohol beers that are ideal in warmer weather. “Think Berliner Weisse, Gose, Session IPAs,” she says. “I’m also looking forward to pouring them in our new ‘crowler’ machine: It’s like a growler, except it pours into 32-ounce cans, sealed to go!” Beer cocktails are a mainstay at Atomic. “We’re introducing palate-awakening ingredients like yogurt, lemongrass, coffee, and red pepper.”
Juyoung Kang prepares the Lafranconi at Blvd. Cocktail Company.
Juyoung Kang, mixologist and lead bartender at the excellent Blvd. Cocktail Company at The Linq (702-322-0579), was thrown into a bartending shift at a Philadelphia wedding. She caught the bug, moving first to LA, then to Las Vegas to work with Sam Ross (of New York’s Milk & Honey) at Comme Ça restaurant. Last year she won the regional title in Bombay Sapphire’s prestigious Most Imaginative Bartender contest, then went on to compete in the nationals. “It was the ride of a lifetime,” she says. “I’m going at it again this year, and I want to win the whole thing.”
For Kang, spring means fresh vegetables and herbs: “I’m excited about using more savory ingredients, like carrots, onion, celery, herbs, rhubarb, and tomatoes.” She’s also dipping into the world of molecular gastronomy and experimenting with sous vide “to perfect a few delicate and complex flavored shrubs and syrups.” This summer, look for a Bombay Sapphire East and tonic program, featuring a house-made tonic concentrate and gin infused with Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black pepper.
Mariena Mercer mixes an I’m Going to the Bathroom to Read at Cosmopolitan.
Mariena Mercer, chief mixologist at Cosmopolitan (702-698-7000), began bartending the moment she was legally allowed to. “Bartending came naturally to me,” she says. “I was working in a steakhouse and was fascinated with wine. They created a ‘tequila goddess’ position for me. I went to Mexico and started visiting distilleries.” A decade later, she manages 13 different bar menus throughout Cosmopolitan.
When it comes to inspiration, “I approach every season like a chef,” Mercer explains. “I try to use an ingredient when it’s in its full ripeness and beauty. This year I’m really into seeds, nuts, oats, and wood. I’m toasting them and playing with the oils—it gives a different mouth feel.”
At Cosmo’s Vesper Bar, try the I’m Going to the Bathroom to Read (reportedly Elvis Presley’s last words), featuring saffron gin, yellow Chartreuse, oatmeal syrup, lemon juice, a purée of calamansi (an Asian citrus fruit), and Giffard banana liqueur. The drink is garnished with “snake oil,” a blend of sandalwood, eucalyptus, frankincense, myrrh, and edible gold.