Some of the best drinks to sip this summer are refreshing takes on classic cocktails.
As food and beverage trends continue to embrace the past, mixologists in Vegas bars and restaurants are perfecting the classics, concocting some of the tastiest retro-style (but still summery) cocktails on local menus this season.
Created in 1905 by American mining engineer Jennings Stockton Cox, who wanted a cold, refreshing drink while he was working at the Daiquiri iron mine near Santiago, Cuba, the daiquiri reached its heyday in the 1940s. Most modern iterations of the drink stray from the original formula by using simple syrup instead of sugar cubes, as in the version at Delano Las Vegas’s Franklin D. Roosevelt–inspired lounge, Franklin (877-632-5400), which honors the drink’s history by employing 89-proof Bacardi 1909 Superior Heritage Limited Edition rum. As Mandalay Bay beverage manager Andrew Blumberg explains, “Bacardi Heritage 1909 is one of the few rums that are certified as meeting the flavor profile of the first blending of rum from 1862, so it’s very classic in note.”
While the modern daiquiri continues to evolve—think blenders, strawberries, and syrupy sweetness—the original needs very little to push it into the realm of all-time-best drinks. If you’re only familiar with the slushy version, you may be pleasantly surprised at how the sweetness of the sugar and the tartness of the lime juice create a classic well-rounded cocktail. The Franklin polishes it up beautifully with a lime wheel–wrapped cherry, adding a bit of color and f lavor while maintaining the breezy refreshment. Says Blumberg, “It’s definitely very refreshing, smooth, easy to drink, and perfect for the summer.”
Prefer bourbon to rum? Try the French Julep at db Brasserie at Venetian (702-430-1235; dbbrasserie.com), which adds basil, rose water, and elderflower liqueur to the familiar mint and bourbon (Bulleit, in this case). And every gin lover should experience the upgraded gin and tonics at Jaleo at Cosmopolitan (702-698-7000), where the Tierra adds kaffir lime and cardamom to house-made tonic, Fords gin, orange, and lemon. The Marmalade Whiskey Sour at Pizza Rock (201 N. Third St.; 702-385- 0838; pizzarocklasvegas.com) is made with Four Roses Small Batch bourbon and, surprisingly, orange marmalade (surprising unless you see the name on the menu, that is).
For vodka fans, Andiron Steak & Sea (Downtown Summerlin, 702-685-8002) offers the Stubborn as a Mule, using Deep Eddy lemon vodka and adding a kick of pineapple vinegar to the Moscow mule’s traditional ginger beer. The Mediterranean Margarita at Cleo at SLS (702-761-7612) uses Don Julio Blanco tequila and fresh lime juice as you’d expect, but adds a house-made fig-almond syrup for Mediterranean flair. Franklin also adds basil to that other great Mexican refresher, the Paloma, featuring fresh lime juice, Jarritos grapefruit soda, and blanco tequila from 7 Leguas, which invented the Patrón tequila label.
Whatever your poison, and whether you prefer your cocktail traditional or tradition-flouting, Vegas bartenders have you covered.