Las Vegas loves to fan the fabulous flames of frivolity, so it really should come as no surprise that mixologists are setting off the alarms with smoky cocktails at several of the city’s hottest spots.
No, really. Bars and restaurants up and down the famous Las Vegas Strip have started offering innovative smoky cocktail concoctions made with fire. Maybe that’s what Elvis meant when he sang about a bright-light city that “set my soul on fire” in his 1964 hit “Viva Las Vegas.” Wow, that guy really was a visionary.
Whether you’re an aspiring arsonist or someone who simply loves spectacle, you’re sure to feel the burn for these eight brilliant cocktails.
Smoke on the Blvd.
Gordon Ramsay fans will be pleased to know there’s a drink as fiery as the celebrity chef himself. Made with Woodford Reserve Rye, Aperol, Amaro Averna, and sweet Vermouth, Smoke on the Blvd. is a signature cocktail at Gordon Ramsay’s newest Las Vegas restaurant, HELL’S KITCHEN (based on Ramsay’s hit reality television show by the same name). The cocktail’s name pays homage to Las Vegas Boulevard, the iconic street which houses Ramsay’s newest Las Vegas restaurant at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. The cocktail itself is housed and served in a smoke-filled glass cabinet that’s opened tableside. This is one time your neighbors won’t complain about secondhand smoke.
Up All Night
Turn an ordinary day into a fireworks-filled celebration with the Up All Night inside CliQue Lounge at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Made with Cruzan Rum, orgeat, lemon, ginger syrup, blackberries, strawberries, and Peychaud’s Bitters, this festive cocktail comes with its very own sparkler (and a dollop of whipped cream). A party in a glass! Located on the casino floor, the lounge is a happening hot spot all night long with tableside mixology, music, and quick bites like wings, sliders, and deep-fried Oreos. According to the menu, the Up All Night will help you burn the midnight oil, which is all well and good, as long as your night doesn’t go up in smoke!
Upstairs at the Cosmopolitan’s Zuma Las Vegas, things are smokin’ thanks to the Burning History, a creative cocktail that’s constructed tableside by a flame-torch-wielding mixologist. In order to create the contemporary Japanese restaurant’s cocktail, savory smoke is extracted from a Sherry cask stave and captured in a glass. It’s shaken together with Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky, ginger syrup, honey water, yuzu juice, egg white, and plum bitters, and served with an orange slice. A little note on the flame torch: Much of Zuma’s elegant design, including the main bar and the sushi bar, is crafted with gorgeous Thai wood, so in the interest of preserving this beautiful space, let’s leave the Burning History to the professionals. And if things go wrong, just remember this sage advice from your childhood: Stop, drop, and roll.
Bacon-Infused “Not So” Old Fashioned
The Whisky-inspired Jake & Eli restaurant at The Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa serves a Bacon-Infused “Not So” Old Fashioned that’s sure to ignite your night. It’s made with Maker’s Mark, candied bacon, maple syrup, and orange bitters, then finished in a cocktail smoke box with Applewood smoke. This concoction as a whole sounds amazing, but, honestly, they had us at “bacon.”
16 – A Handcrafted Experience atop M Resort serves some of its cocktails with herbs like fresh sage or thyme, including The 16 and the Savory Tonic (Empress gin, St-Germain, and Fever Tree elderflower tonic). The server burns the tip of the herb upon serving the cocktail, adding an understated aromatic touch to every sip. Even hotter, the view from this 16th-floor venue! M Resort is located at the southern tip of the Strip near the first freeway exit into Las Vegas from California (or the last on the way to California), offering expansive, panoramic views of the city and our blazing sunsets through floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony.
Park MGM’s whimsical new Juniper Cocktail Lounge is blazing new trails when it comes to mixology. Here, MGM Resorts Corporate Mixologist Craig Schoettler has crafted a twist on the Chartreuse Swizzle. This firestorm of flaming mint, fresh lime, fresh pineapple, and Green Chartreuse is called No Judging. It’s only one of a lineup of super-creative cocktails served in breathtaking handblown glasses (The Little Birdie, for instance, comes in a glass shaped like a bird!). For the No Judging, the pipe-like glass overflows with a mint garnish that’s ignited tableside, right before your eyes. If the thought of this excites you, you might be a pyromaniac (or a single lady hoping to meet a handsome firefighter). Either way, that’s okay. There’s no judging here.
Smoke Missing Mirrors
Schoettler also gets credit for creating the Smoke Missing Mirrors served at James Beard award-winning chef Shawn McClain’s Sage inside Aria. Made in a similar fashion to the Burning History at Zuma, this concoction also requires a bartender or mixologist to capture smoke in a glass. In this case, the smoke and aroma comes from fired up Bourbon-barrel wood. Add in Pyrat XO reserve Rum, Tempus Fugit Gran Classico bitter apéritif liqueur, oloroso Sherry, and orange bitters. As if this city needed to get any hotter.
Wood & Fire
The carnivorous carnival known as Bazaar Meat by José Andrés at SLS Las Vegas has a signature cocktail called Wood & Fire, made with a well-mixed combination of 2 ounces of Reposado Tequila, a quarter-ounce of Benedictine, a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, 1 bar spoon of maple syrup, and a fired cedar wood plank. The smoke is captured in an empty glass, which is then placed atop a chunk of ice to absorb the smoke’s essence. It is returned upright, filled with the liquid mixture, and garnished with two cloves and two marigold petals. In the video above, Cocktail Innovator Juan Coronado shows you how to capture that smoky flavor at home.