Watching Rose.Rabbit.Lie. come together is something of a cliffhanger. The Cosmopolitan’s next act is a supper/social club opening December 30, a collaboration between the resort, Coastal Luxury Management (of Pebble Beach Food & Wine fame) and Spiegelworld (creators of Absinthe). But there are other players in this so-called “social experiment,” where guests will dine, drink, dance and, presumably, be delighted by live performances.
This week, I attended a private cocktail tasting with Coastal Luxury Management co-founders David Alan Bernahl II and Robert Weakley, hosted by one of those other players, bartender/mixologist Marshall Altier. Altier comes to us from New York, most recently by way of Tokyo, where he was finishing up a consulting gig. He’s a smart, thoughtful and careful bartender with a sure hand, or so it seemed considering that he didn’t know 24 hours prior that we’d be crammed into a service bar behind Rose.Rabbit.Lie.’s headquarters in the Cosmo’s Overlook Grill.
Altier gave a quick overview of his cocktail program—including some that will be kept on draft and others served in 9- and 17-ounce glass flasks—for the venue’s multiple spaces. Among these are the Anteroom, something Bernahl intriguingly refer to as the Swimming Pool, and the Ballroom, where Spiegelworld’s entertainers will perform cantos (70-minutes each at 8 and 10 p.m., and then ongoing after midnight). But the Study is where Ohio-born Altier can stretch his mixology muscles. “I’m holding my cards close about the Study,” Altier says with a mischievous smirk. “That’s going to be the place where, if I have my druthers, you’ll have that bespoke cocktail experience, where you’ll say ‘I want something brown and stirred,’ and the bartender seems to read your mind.”
We started with his New Moon, a play on the typically gin-based Blue Moon, with Absolut’s new luxury vodka, Elyx, violette liqueur, lemon and orange cream citrate. For the tasting, Altier used hulking cubes, but in practice, Kold Draft cubes will be the standard, with ice hand-chipped from 300-pound blocks for drinks served on the rocks. And the heavy, cut-crystal glass has a little nipple at the bottom that allows the drinker to spin it on the smooth bartop, as one imagines Jay Gatsby might have idly done whilst staring wistfully across the bay in the direction of his beloved.
But I digress. Bottom line: killer ice, cool glassware!
Next up was a pretty standard Jack Rose, with apple brandy, pomegranate nectar and citrus. Then the 1940s-era Airmail, adapted from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts, using Denizen rum (of which Altier is a partner), honey, lime and Champagne. Altier got cute with the Floradora Imperial, another gin cocktail he said previously “bored” him, and for which he upped the interest with black pu-erh tea-infused D’Usse Cognac, raspberry, lime and more Champagne. (Incidentally, Rose.Rabbit.Lie. will have a 300-plus-label Champagne list, as well as a robust caviar program—how about a kilo of it in a hand-carved ice jewelry box?—and a $50,000, 385-glass Champagne tower. Start saving up.)
I’d suggest that Altier has something against gin, but for his delicious and exotic spin on the 1920s Monkey Gland, with Tanqueray Malaca, pomegranate nectar, lime and an absinthe-orange foam. An incredible top-shelf Brandy Alexander II followed, officially establishing Altier as one of the crusaders for history’s forgotten and dismissed drinks.
In addition to the new faces, familiar ones will abound, as Rose.Rabbit.Lie. has cherry-picked a number of excellent bartenders from all over the city, including Juyoung Kang of the Laundry Room and Comme Ça, Mandarin Oriental’s Priscilla Young and the Cosmopolitan’s Mike Doyle.
Rose.Rabbit.Lie. opens Dec. 30 in the Cosmopolitan. Roserabbitlie.com, 877-667-0858.