Matt Myers looked every bit the professional, full-time bartender as he presented his Oaxaqueño (wa-ha-KEN-yo) Crush, the second place-winning cocktail of the evening. But the assistant general manager of Bellagio’s Michael Mina—who also designed the restaurant’s cocktail program—only occasionally sneaks behind the wood himself these days. Myers, a trained chef who bartended his way through New England Culinary Institute, says he sort of “fell into” mixology, studying under David “Mr. Mojito” Nepove as well as with San Francisco’s Future Bars. But it was in Mexico City where he perfected his personal style, haggling with street vendors for hibiscus flowers and tamarind, and further established his culinary bent toward California cuisine. His cocktail’s rich, smoky agave undertones coexist well with Bombay Sapphire’s botanicals and get a satisfying heat from the Serrano chilies and ginger beer.
It has also been a triumphant year for Wynn-Encore property mixologist Patricia Richards, who took third place in the Bombay Sapphire competition. In February, she placed first in the 12th annual Finlandia World Cup nationals (not to mention later placing fourth in the world). Just a week after her Bombay win, she took first place in the USBG Milagro Tequila Margarita competition at the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail spirits conference in New Orleans. Her Bombay Sapphire cocktail, the Magnolia, combined the featured gin with tea she carried back from a recent trip to Wynn Macau. “There is a rich history of tea consumption in Asian culture,” Richards says, “but not in a cocktail! This is something new and perhaps a little scandalous.” With hints of hibiscus, cranberry and raspberry, the sweeter cherry blossom notes are rounded out by the sweet-tart grapefruit.
As made by Matt Myers of Michael Mina Restaurant at the Bellagio
- 1 ½ ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 ounces roasted agave from Oaxaca (available at the Broad Acres Swap Meet), sliced
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 slices Serrano chile, thinly sliced
- 1 ounce Fever-Tree ginger beer
- A slice of the roasted agave, cut with the grain, and lemon peel for the garish
Method: Combine gin, lemon juice, Cointreau and bitters in a mixing glass. In a separate mixing glass, thoroughly crush roasted agave with a muddler. Pour liquid ingredients over the crushed agave, add ice and sliced Serrano chilies. Shake vigorously to break up the crushed agave, then strain over fresh ice into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a slice of agave and a lemon peel.
As made by Patricia Richards, available at Wynn’s B Bar this fall, $14
- 4-5 ruby red grapefruit segments, peeled
- 1¾ ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
- ½ ounce magnolia blossom tea simple syrup (see below)
- 1½ ounces house-made sweet and sour (see below)
- Preserved hibiscus flower for the garnish
Magnolia Blossom Tea Simple Syrup
Bring 200 grams simple syrup (1:1 ratio of granulated sugar with water) to a simmer. Add 10 grams dried magnolia blossoms. Return to simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and cover to steep for a minimum of 12 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove pulp. Cover and refrigerate syrup until ready for use. Lasts for one month.
House-Made Sweet and Sour
Combine equal parts simple syrup (1:1 ratio), with freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice.
Method: In a mixing glass, muddle grapefruit, add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake well and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a preserved hibiscus flower.