It’s as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. And, while it’s certainly not fancy, there is no sandwich more perfect than a PB&J. Two pieces of pillow-soft bread embracing the sticky goodness of nutty peanut butter and the fruity sweetness of jelly—it’s no wonder these two have been inseparable since the 1920s. Popularized during World War II, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich has evolved from an American tradition to a very personal one. We’ve mastered the ‘correct’ way to make it (yes, there is one), and the rest is history. But, while we subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought, we also can’t help but notice a resurgence of classic PB&J hitting dessert and cocktail menus in Las Vegas. Here’s a taste of what chefs and mixologists are doing with this match-made-in-heaven food—all guaranteed to kick-start back-to-school season for adults and kids alike.
B&B Burger & Beer gives a nod to the American classic with its PB&J Shake. “What else brings back the fond memories and joy of those carefree school days more than a PB&J?” asks chef Jason Neve, culinary director of B&B Hospitality Group Las Vegas. With this shake, Neve’s turned the nostalgic sandwich into a refreshing treat made from a duo of creamy, house-made peanut butter gelato, layered with fresh berry preserves. Plus, peanut butter cookie garnish is also perfect for dipping and nibbling. $9 or $12 (with Frangelico), the Venetian, 702-414-2220, BAndBBurgerAndBeer.com.
Named after the divine Greek hero, the Hercules cocktail begins with a creamy peanut butter rim on the glass. The rest of the recipe includes Belvedere Black Raspberry Vodka, Toschi Nocello Walnut Liqueur, Pallini Raspicello, fresh raspberry purée and rock candy syrup. The silky texture of the liqueurs and puree add an extra dimension to what results in a surprisingly refreshing libation. $19, Caesars Palace, 702-776-3200, FizzLV.com.
All Shook Up Concrete
Back in the day, the “concrete” was a milkshake that was so thick, servers used to hand out orders through the window upside down, demonstrating that not a drop will drip. Shake Shack’s All Shook Up concrete follows suit as a dense frozen vanilla custard, blended with Gimme Some Sugar’s banana peanut butter cheesecake and chocolate toffee. Popular add-ons include peanut butter sauce and strawberry puree for one rock-solid PB&J concrete. $4.50, $6.75, $11.59 + 60¢ per add-on, New York-New York, 725-222-6730, ShakeShack.com.
Peanut Butter, Jelly Time Ice Cream Sandwich
While growing up, Cosmopolitan chef mixologist Mariena Mercer idolized Willy Wonka and Bill Nye the Science Guy. An affinity for both sweets and science fueled her interest in creating craft cocktails and desserts that are simply “out of this world.” Take her Peanut Butter, Jelly Time: Mercer uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze a sweet and tart boozy concoction of raspberry sauce, raspberry jam sorbet and St. George Raspberry Liqueur. She then presses a handsome scoop between two house-made oversize peanut butter cookies. If adults (or Peter Griffin) brought their lunch to work, it would be this one. $15, Neapolitan at the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.
PB&J Glazed Doughnut Ice Cream Sundae
Weighing in at close to five pounds, this mammoth-size dessert is amped up for ice cream and chocolate lovers. Loaded with three pints of vanilla and strawberry ice cream, one oversize 10-inch glazed donut is split and drizzled generously with peanut butter, raspberry and chocolate sauces. Whipped cream and a cherry finish the top, while the bottom is adorned with Oreo kisses, made from Oreo cookies and chocolate ganache, dipped in silky chocolate. Share it, or have an affair with it. $30, Serendipty 3 at Caesars Palace, 702-731-7373, Caesars.com.
Coming full circle to a sandwich, the tastemakers at the Goodwich create one that satisfies our youth, while fulfilling our adult sensibilities. Their variation on the classic PB&J melds house-made peanut butter with seasonal jelly (currently blueberry) and jalapeño. A hint of fragrant rosemary and thyme add a touch of herbaceous happiness along with bacon that is cured in-house to finish a sandwich that embodies the perfect combination of smoke, sweet, savory and heat. $5, 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-910-8681, The-Goodwich.com.