“It’s important to have a goal in mind before you begin creating a cocktail,” says Ricardo Murcia, Bellagio’s assistant director of beverage and property mixologist. Murcia’s goal was to find a home on his new property-wide menus for Amaro Montenegro. This complex, herbal Italian amaro (bitter) liqueur does exquisite things for an afternoon espresso taken while watching the bustle of a piazza from the shadow of a cathedral. Las Vegas being short of piazze and cathedrals, Bellagio’s Petrossian Bar is a more-than-suitable replacement, where you can observe the activity of the lobby, drinking cocktails that, as Murcia puts it, “people want to be seen drinking.” Named for Princess Elena of Montenegro (later Queen of Italy—what is the spirits industry if not romantic?), Murcia’s Elena cocktail ($16) combines Montenegro with Tanqueray Rangpur gin, hand-squeezed lime juice, house-made ginger extract, cane syrup and a top of soda water over crushed ice—a sort of elevated Italian gin Rickey. But “Elena” just sounds so much more regal than “Rickey.”
As served at Petrossian Bar in Bellagio, $16
In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce Tanqueray Rangpur gin, 1 ounce Amaro Montenegro, ½ ounce hand-squeezed lime juice, ¾ ounce house-made ginger extract (recipe below) and 1 ounce Depaz cane syrup. Add ice, cover and shake thoroughly. Strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with Fever Tree soda water or Perrier. Garnish with a mint crown and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
In a blender, combine one chopped ginger root per 1½ quarts of water. Blend and then double-strain the mixture to retrieve the ginger extract. Note: Using a juicer will result in a spicier, more concentrated product.