Seven reasons to lift up a glass … to the New Year!

1. A new year calls for some new haunts. Now open for your imbibing enjoyment: Mob Bar on Third Street and Ogden Avenue, Public House in the Venetian, Old Homestead in Caesars Palace, Hyde Bellagio, 1 Oak in The Mirage, Lynyrd Skynyrd in Excalibur, Bottles & Burgers in Tivoli Village and Oscar’s in the Plaza. Now, who’s buying?

2. The James Beard Foundation has added an Outstanding Bar Program award to its 2012 honors. The award (finally!) recognizes a restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service. The winners will be announced May 7 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

3. Cosmopolitan property mixologist and Vesper GM Andrew Pollard has announced that Jan. 7 will be his last day before he joins the cocktail development team at Wirtz Beverage Nevada. Says Pollard, “I am very proud of the brand that we built, and more importantly, the group of talent that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.” Stop by for a final Fernet Branca before he goes all corporate on us.

4. Attention cocktail enthusiasts! Tickets for the 2012 Manhattan Cocktail Classic ( in New York on May 11-15 go on sale in March. In the mean time, pick up your tickets now for the Universal Whisky Experience (, March 2-3 at the Wynn.

5. Downtown Cocktail Room received a nice surprise just before the end of the year, being named one of the “50 Best Bars In America” by Food & Wine. This is the second Food & Wine honor as it was named one of 100 best in 2009 as well.

6. Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show and Adult Entertainment Expo, Rhumbar in The Mirage is offering one of the mixology bar’s signature cocktails paired with Rhumbar’s proprietary house cigar, the Dominican blend Mirage Toro for $20 throughout January. And nothing goes together like liquor, cigars and conventioneers.

7. While you’re there, belly up to almost any bar as The Mirage recently rolled out 30 new cocktails property-wide. Created by director of beverage Peter Brattander and his team, Strawberry Fields (pictured) is drink one we’d cross Abbey Road for.