Not every bartender is a mixologist, and not every mixologist is a bartender. And then there are those who, like Sid Kindler, are students of both. Kindler took first place overall in Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending’s inaugural Reach for the Moon cocktail competition in association with ProgressiveBar. Just as the talent was local, so too was the main ingredient: Nevada vodka by our own Las Vegas Distillery. Along with myself and a panel of local cocktailians, the competition was also judged by Las Vegas Distillery owner and master distiller George Rácz.
While the judging was based on the composite scores of the entire panel, it probably didn’t hurt that Kindler works with Nevada vodka daily. After completing Crescent’s beverage management course, he began working at Las Vegas Distillery as a stillman.
“I wanted to make it so that anyone can buy the ingredients and make it themselves at home,” Kindler says of his simple, refreshing cooler, the perfect showplace for Nevada’s domestic spirit. “I think that fresh ingredients are a large part of making a cocktail.” And that’s the first and most important lesson for any student.
In a mixing glass, muddle a half-inch slice of cucumber. Add 1 ounce Nevada vodka, ½ ounce Bacardi Superior light) rum, 1 ounce honeydew melon-infused simple syrup, and ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice. Add ice, cover, shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with slices of cucumber and slices of cucumber peel.
Honeydew melon simple syrup: Simmer then muddle half a cubed honeydew melon in 16 ounces of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then strain the water into 16 ounces of sugar, stir until dissolved and refrigerate.
Mis en Place
From Las Vegas Distillery in Henderson comes Nevada’s eponymous spirit, made from Winnemucca Farms’ soft winter wheat. Owner George Rácz began distilling with his stills—nicknamed the “Copper Angels”—on April 1, and the distillery opened its doors to the public in July. Rácz will release his newest project, White Rumskey, on Nov. 19 at the distillery, but you can get a sneak peek and try Rácz’ Nevada vodka and Seven Grain vodka from 3-8 p.m. Nov. 5, during the ninth annual Lee’s Wine Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. LasVegasDistillery.com.
Try: Aquaknox in the Venetian.
Buy: $22 (750 ml), Total Wine & More.