Insert cocktails, five new flights of fancy (wines) and your big night

Insert Coin(s) has always had a small cocktail menu, but owner Chris LaPorte would like to see a greater cocktail presence at his popular barcade. Along with Vegas Seven nightlife writer Deanna Rilling and emcee Tony Abou-Ganim, I recently helped judge Insert Coin(s)’ first cocktail competition, a showdown between Hennessy Black and Stoli Elit. Barman Justin Alferez’ winning cocktail—Need for Speed featuring Hennessy Black, Drambuie, apricot puree, lemon juice and a pear cider float—will be placed on the 2013 menu for all to enjoy.

Vintner Grill has debuted a flight of flights—five to be exact—which feature four 2-ounce glasses of wine accompanied by a custom tasting board. “Tiny Bubbles” ($16) takes you through three French sparklers and a California brut rosé from California’s first French-owned sparkling wine producer in Napa Valley. “Wines From Around Here” ($14) specifically highlights wines from Las Vegas’ backyard in Paso Robles, Sonoma and Napa, California. And “Sommelier Selections” ($20) is a whirlwind tour through France, California and Spain, spotlighting the somm’s personal selections.

• Speaking of sommeliers, you can be a “Sommelier for a Day” at Valentino in the Venetian, home to one of the city’s finest wine collections. For $250 per person, Valentino’s wine director will guide you a one-on-one training session that includes wine history, knowledge, service and food pairing. The evening of shadowing concludes with a tasting of Valentino’s most elite wines paired with James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini’s cuisine. Call 414-3000,

• Absolut has to have had Las Vegas in mind when it devised its latest marque, Absolut Tune, a blend of Sweden’s iconic vodka with sparkling New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The curvaceous bottle arrives in formal dress, a sleek foil wrapper from caged cork top to bottom. But once “unzipped,” Tune reveals a slinky little black-and-gold number, and she’s ready to party. Tune (which debuted in Las Vegas on 12.12.12) blurs the line between vodka, wine and bubbly—a fashionable fusion that will take bottle service to a more female-friendly place. $30 at Total Wine & More,

• And finally, congratulations to J.R. Starkus! The former RM Seafood lead bartender—also one of the winningest in the city—has joined Southern Wine & Spirits as a mixologist doing some beverage development, staff education, menu creation and more. Tasked with filling his considerable shoes is RM Seafood barman Nathan Greene. A relative newcomer, Greene graduated from the Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending beverage management program and is definitely one to watch.



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