Postmodern Classic

Liquid Nitrogen Cable Car, As served at Hyde Bellagio, $20

I can think of three so-called “modern classics”—cocktails that have grown beyond their market of origin to be recognized and served around the world—whose success has relied greatly upon the city of Las Vegas. Tony Abou-Ganim, who arrived here at Steve Wynn’s invitation to roll out Bellagio’s opening beverage program, created two of these. He reacquainted Las Vegas with the term “fresh,” and the city’s cocktail renaissance bloomed forth.

Today, a new operator is enjoying success with a frosty delicacy that capitalizes on seeds sown by Abou-Ganim more than a decade ago. Inspired by the avant-garde culinary techniques of Spanish chef José Andrés, the Liquid Nitrogen Cable Car is a collaboration by Hyde Bellagio barman Jose Zepeda Jr. and SBE Hotel Group vice president Oliver Wharton.

To accommodate the liquid nitrogen treatment, the new recipe tweaks Abou-Ganim’s modern classic, the Cable Car, which was created in 1996 during his time at San Francisco’s Starlight Room, was made famous in Las Vegas and was named 2002’s Drink of the Year by Bon Appétit. Zepeda uses Hyde Bellagio’s custom-built Cable Car cart to serve tableside the semi-frozen and wickedly spiked treat that is sure to be on everyone’s lips as temperatures begin to climb.

In a mixing glass, combine ½ ounce Bacardi Oakheart spiced rum, 1 ounce orange curaçao, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 ounce simple syrup. Stir for six seconds and then add the mixture to a stainless steel mixing bowl. Add 6 ounces liquid nitrogen and whisk for 30 seconds or until the mixture reaches the desired consistency, about that of a sorbet. (If the drink turns white, too much liquid nitrogen was used.) Scoop into a double-walled glass ( and garnish with an edible flower and freshly grated cinnamon. For Tony Abou-Ganim’s original Cable Car recipe, visit

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