How to Make Vintner Grill’s Black Bird Cocktail

Photo by Beverly Poppe

Photo by Beverly Poppe

Summerlin’s Vintner Grill has a history of exceptional blackberry cocktails. Back in 2011, it was the High West cocktail—a blackberry-basil-rye riff on the Old Fashioned—that was such a craveable hit for whiskey-lovers and a revelation for those new to the category. “I enjoy bourbon, Scotch and whiskey over most other spirits,” says Vintner Grill general manager Peter Varela, “but most importantly, I enjoy creative and fresh ideas and concepts.” He also realizes that not every guest has made the jump from white to brown spirits. So with his Black Bird cocktail, Varela lets fresh, sweet-tart blackberries and spicy-sweet Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky straight bourbon do all the work. Just a little lemon juice and egg white ensure that the Black Bird has some body, is neither too sweet nor too complicated, and appeals to both men and women, including those who don’t usually give bourbon a second thought. “We want people to think, be a bit shocked and then ultimately be surprised at how much they like it,” Varela says. He got his start at the flagship Spago in L.A., so what isn’t surprising is that his cocktail perspective is a culinary one, and rooted in a desire for simplicity and consistency. Chefs and bar chefs: birds of a feather.

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