Cocktails are not a one-size-fits-all experience. Palates and preferences differ, making one man’s usual is another man’s unusual. In addition to her role as therapist, confessor and matchmaker, a bartender must also learn to be an alchemist, able to transform drinks from sweet to sour and from spirit-forward to refreshing at the drop of a hat to accommodate those preferences. At Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars, lead bartender and mixologist Peter Vitolo is just such a magic man. His frothy, voluminous Cane Sour tips its hat to the cocktails of old while still showing off Vitolo’s creativity.
But the egg white, ginger or maple syrup might not appeal to every patron who sits down at Vitolo’s bar. Hence, in just a few ingredients (or with the omission thereof), he can get from the Cane Sour to a Dark & Stormy, a Cable Car or a Rum Collins. “Mixology is not about making drinks. A true mixologist understands his guests and what their flavor profiles are,” Vitolo says. “It’s the talent to be able to create something no matter what the obstacles are, someone who can educate the masses on the finer points of balancing a drink without being pretentious or pompous.”
The Cane Sour
As served at all Wolfgang Puck fine dining properties in Las Vegas, $14
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces 10 Cane rum, 1 ounce McClure’s organic maple syrup, 1 ounce pasteurized egg white, ½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice and four drops Bittermens ’Elemakule Tiki Bitters. Cover and dry shake (without ice) for 45 seconds. Add ice, cover, hard-shake 20 times and strain over fresh chipped ice into a 22-ounce stemless wine or cocktail glass. Top with club soda and three drops of bitters. Using a sugarcane stick, swirl the bitters into an attractive pattern and garnish with a swath of orange peel.