Now that the smoke has settled following the opening of Las Vegas’ newest nightlife and dining complex, it’s safe for cocktailians to approach the restaurant’s bar to enjoy some of the more geeky menu elements. Chic and pretty as she is, Hakkasan has plenty to keep their attention. The Plum Sour ($15) is the menu’s darling, a blend of Yamakazi 12–Year whisky, umeshu (plum liqueur), lemon juice, Angostura bitters and egg white. Also alluring is the Lingering Garden ($15), made from Hangar One Spiced Pear vodka, Nashi pear (Asian pear), saffron, nigori sake, Dolin Rouge de Chambéry and lemon juice.
But of all of former beverage director Gian Carlo D’Urso’s creations, the most captivating is the Smoky Negroni ($17). Listed first on the menu, the classic combination of gin—in this case, Ransom Old Tom—Antica Formula sweet vermouth and Campari gets the Michelin-starred Hakkasan treatment. It goes into a decanter, where it is swirled with smoke from woodchips that have been soaked in Grand Marnier. A bit theatrical, yes, but not without purpose. The result is a more delicate, wider-appealing Negroni, and one with just a kiss of Cognac and orange. A cocktail with character is always a good call.
As served at Hakkasan Restaurant in MGM Grand, $17
In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine 1¼ ounces Ransom Old Tom gin, 1¼ ounces Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and 1 ounce Campari. Stir for at least 15 seconds, preferably up to 45 seconds. Strain into a decanter. Infuse with smoke for 5 seconds using a Poly-Science Smoking Gun filled with Grand Marnier-soaked and dried wood chips and swirl. Strain into a 9-ounce crystal double old-fashioned glass over an ice sphere (find molds at CocktailKingdom.com), express the oils of one orange peel over the glass and drop it in.