Orient Express

img1435.jpgIf whiskey makes you frisky, gin makes you sin and brandy makes you randy, then what does dedicating one casino bar entirely to vodka make you? Smart. Before they queue up to get down, partiers heading to Surrender can first slip over to VDKA, the new vodka bar at Encore, to get the party started. Here, more than 130 varieties of vodka are available straight or in cocktails. The city’s first Shock-A-Vodka speed-draft system keeps a faction of novelty vodkas chilled and ready to dispense in case of emergency, flavors that take direct aim at the kid in you, such as sugar cookie, devil’s food cake and peanut butter. A menu of vodka-based cocktails complements the spirit list, with more sophisticated flavors and presentations, such as Francesco Lafranconi’s Asian-inspired Paradiso Cocktail. The executive director of mixology and spirits education for Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada embraced the versatility of vodka to take guests at VDKA and the adjacent Andrea’s straight to the Far East with his house-infused Chopin, exotic Pacific Rim ingredients and touch of French elegance. Consider the party started.

Paradiso Cocktail

As served at VDKA and Andrea’s in Encore, $16

In a mixing glass, combine 2 ounces pineapple-kaffir-lemongrass infused Chopin vodka, ½ ounce Grand Marnier, ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, ½ ounce rock candy syrup and 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters. Add ice, cover, shake and strain into a chilled 7–ounce cocktail glass or coup. Garnish with a dehydrated pineapple wheel (DressTheDrink.com).

Pineapple-Kaffir-Lemongrass-Infused Chopin Vodka

Makes 1 1/3 gallons

In a clean container, combine 5 liters Chopin vodka, 7 medium-size kaffir lime leaves, 5 stalks fresh lemongrass (peeled, ends discarded and chopped into ¼-inch slices) and with 2½ large pineapples (peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes). Cover and infuse for 48 hours at room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove and discard all solids. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use; discard after 4 months.

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Drink Your Jack Sinatra-Style

Want to drink like a member of the Rat Pack? The recently-renovated Golden Gate Casino's vintage cocktail menu includes the evocatively-named Frankie Two Fingers—Jack Daniels served the way Frank Sinatra reportedly liked to order it while sitting at the casino bar. The Recipe: Two fingers of Jack Daniels Splash of bottled water Four ice cubes Legend has it Ole Blue Eyes quaffed the drink while waiting to catch trains home to Los Angeles from the nearby station with pal Dean Martin. He drank it his way—and now you can, too.