Sam Ross doesn’t much like the term “consultant,” but that’s effectively what he has done—and done exceedingly well—for chef David Myers of Comme Ça L.A. and Las Vegas. The New York-based mixologist personally checks in every couple of months on his menu and the bartenders he trained for Comme Ça’s opening at the Cosmo.
His 18A cocktail menu (a smirky reference to the 18th Amendment, which set Prohibition into effect), is thoughtful and intriguing, reflecting Ross’ respect for the classics as well as his flair for remixing them into original interpretations. The Penicillin, created for New York’s Milk & Honey in 2005, has since gone viral as a rare modern classic.
A variation on the whiskey sour, the Penicillin capitalizes on the extreme smokiness found in a float of Islay scotch, yet, thanks to honey, ginger and lemon, remains bright and approachable. “It’s a gateway whiskey drink,” says Ross, who was just named American Bartender of the Year at the Tales of the Cocktail industry conference in New Orleans, an honor he shares with Kenta Goto of New York’s Pegu Club in the Spirited Awards’ first-ever tie.
Overall, Ross keeps it simple, with just three to five ingredients: the freshest fruit, spirit, perhaps a modifier or two and a sweetener. Like our own Downtown Cocktail Room and Herbs & Rye, Ross tends not to name-drop brands. So you can be assured that your cocktail is a union of the best ingredients, not a marketing alliance. Good lookin’ out, mate.
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces Famous Grouse blended scotch, ¾ ounce ginger-honey syrup (50/50 honey to water, simmered with 1 ounce peeled, sliced fresh ginger, then cooled and strained) and ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with a float of Laphroaig 10 Year and garnish with a piece of candied ginger.
Three More to Try
Japanese Mule — by Patricia Richards at Switch Steak in Wynn
In a mixing glass, muddle 10-12 fresh mint leaves with ¾ ounce freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice. Add 2 ounces of Yamazaki 12 Year, ½ ounce Canton ginger liqueur and a splash of light agave syrup and shake well with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass and top with 3 ounces of Goslings Bermuda ginger beer. Stir gently and garnish with a lush sprig of mint. Wynnlasvegas.com/dining/switch-steak.
Nail in the Coffin — by Andrew Pollard at Vesper Bar in the Cosmopolitan
Combine 1½ ounces Glenfiddich 15 Year, ½ ounce Drambuie, 1 ounce blood orange juice, ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ ounce Monin elderflower syrup and 4 dashes Hogan & Ellis Lavender Spice aromatic bitters. Add ice, cover, shake and double-strain over fresh cubed ice in a bucket glass. Garnish with a lavender sprig and an orange neck, a long swath of rind cut “pole to pole” from one whole orange. CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.
Sean Connery — by Jeremy Merritt at
Downtown Cocktail Room
Combine 1½ ounces Johnnie Walker Black, ½ ounce Faretti Biscotti Famosi liqueur, ½ ounce Lagavulin 16 Year, ½ ounce house-made orange-ginger infused simple syrup, ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash of The Bitter Truth’s Old Time aromatic bitters. Add ice, cover, shake and strain over fresh cubed ice in a rocks glass that has been rimmed with ginger-sugar. TheDowntownLV.com.