Sip Into Spring

Cherry Blossom, as served at Tao Beach in the Venetian, $14

Hanami is the Japanese tradition of viewing or even picnicking under the sakura (cherry blossom trees). Cherry blossoms can be found all over the country, many originating as gifts of friendship between the Japan and the U.S. The tree blossoms in spring. The effect is intense and short-lived, and is celebrated with cherry blossom festivals wherever they grow.

While you cannot hanami under any sakura in Las Vegas, you can refresh yourself in the shade of a palm tree or a poolside cabana at the Balinese-inspired Tao Beach with one exotic and delicious cocktail blushing pink as those delicate blossoms.

“The inspiration comes from the aromas of fresh flowers lining the beaches of Fiji,” Tao Group beverage director Edward Allen says. “I wanted to showcase those amazing floral notes by utilizing St. Germain in a refreshing summer cocktail.”

Combine 1¾ ounces Absolut Citron vodka, 1 ounce cranberry juice, ¾ ounce fresh sour mix and ¾ ounce St. Germain in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and top with ¼ ounce club soda. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

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Ah, springtime. All this “coming in like a lion, going out like a lamb” business has us thinking dinner. Morels in the Palazzo recently welcomed Bergevin Lane Vineyards co-owner Amber Lane, who, along with Annette Bergevin and winemaker Steffan Jorgensen, is putting out some very sound Washington state wines. During the Meet the Winemaker event last month, Lane tasted guests on her limited release 2006 Oui Deux syrah and 2008 cabernet sauvignon. Both hail from the Columbia Valley and both impressed, but the syrah stands out right now as ideal for springtime pairing.