Sake Fever

2017 Spring Epicurean Calendar

Your comprehensive guide to all things food, wine, beer, spirits and fun!

March 26

Herbs & Rye will open its doors on a rare Sunday night for the third annual BarMania bartending competition. Twenty-eight bartenders of both the mixology and flair persuasions, and from as close as Las Vegas and as far as Singapore, will jump into the ring, or rather, behind the stick. The rules are simple: Each will prepare a series of six requested cocktails and two shots and open a beer—the best score wins. However, competitors are instantly disqualified for breakage and for putting up four drinks that are undrinkable/unservable or ungarnished. Sponsor brands will offer cocktails and raffle items for spectators, and WrestleMania costumes are highly encouraged. The high-energy soiree generally goes till midnight, with an official afterparty at the Spearmint Rhino lasting till the wee hours. Donations will be accepted for entry, and all proceeds will be donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Last year’s event raised $9,200 for the charity; this year’s goal is $12,000 in four hours. “This is my favorite day of the year, besides my kids’ birthdays,” owner and host Nectaly Mendoza says. Doors 7 p.m., bottles fly at 8 p.m., 3713 W Sahara Ave, herbsandrye.com

March 27–29

Whether or not you play a professional role in the food and beverage industry, there is so much to see, taste and learn at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. By day you’ll want to cruise the floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center to discover emerging brands and trends. By night, it’s all about the networking events and parties. And throughout, seminars and panel discussions put you in the room with the experts, including BarMagic’s Tobin Ellis, Herbs & Rye’s Nectaly Mendoza and Other Mama chef Dan Krohmer. This year’s keynote speakers include Hakkasan Group CEO Neil Moffitt and RumChata creator Thomas Maas, among others. The annual Shake It Up Classic and Flair bartending competition is also always a highlight! Feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities? There are four focused itinerary tracks you can opt into: bar, nightlife, beer and mixology. Passes start at $129, ncbshow.com

UNLVino Grand Tasting

March 30–April 1

Some things get better with age, namely wine, and Las Vegas knows how to celebrate each year with UNLVino, a buzzy three days with something for every palate. Begin with bubbles at The Venetian, where a variety of Champagnes and sparkling wines take center stage at Bubble-Licious ($100 in advance; $125 at the door). Guests will enjoy small plates from The Venetian and The Palazzo’s outstanding collection of restaurants. Sake lovers can head to Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa for Sake Fever ($75 in advance; $100 at the door), which is hosted poolside and highlights the ultimate polished beverage plus Japanese spirits and cocktails. Cuisine from some of the city’s top restaurants will complement the libations. Finally, the Grand Tasting ($100 in advance; $125 at the door) at Paris Las Vegas is UNLVino’s signature event that delights guests with an illustrious display of premium beverages, live entertainment and cuisine from UNLV’s culinary students and celebrated Las Vegas restaurants. UNLVino’s motto is “Take a sip for scholarship,” with millions of dollars raised since its inception in 1974—yet another thing that gets better with age. unlvtickets.com

March 31

At the inaugural Vegas Food Expo, you can taste and learn all about a new type of raisin being grown in the Mojave Desert, from-scratch soy and Worcestershire sauces from Kentucky, premium-grade sea salt from the Philippines and even brewed 100 percent cacao chocolate that’s richer than hot chocolate and provides long-lasting energy like coffee. It sounds almost too good to be true! These and other unique purveyors of specialty foods will showcase their passion at this entirely new kind of food convention. Listen to presentations, network and meet food-and-beverage providers to get an insider’s understanding of how they operate. $50, Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, vegasfoodexpo.com

Emeril Lagasse launches Tour de Emeril, a dining series featuring the culinary talents of the chef’s four Las Vegas restaurants and their respective chefs de cuisine: Ronnie Rainwater (Delmonico Steakhouse), Jean Paul Labadie (Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House), Scott Pajak (Lagasse’s Stadium) and James Richards (Table 10). The series kicks off on March 31 at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House with a cocktail reception. Dinner is a seasonal springtime feast featuring chilled white asparagus bisque with Alaskan king crab, roasted wild striped bass, rabbit “porchetta,” grilled Colorado lamb chop and an extravaganza of seasonal fruits prepared three ways. Wine pairings by Huneeus wines are optional but highly recommended. $90, $150 with wine pairing, Emeril’s Fish House, in MGM Grand, emerils.com

April 1

Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group launches its first guest chef dinner series on April 1 at Carnevino Italian Steakhouse with a dinner executed by chef Cesare Casella, an acclaimed New York chef who is considered the “dean of Italian cooking.” Rarely seen without his signature sprig of rosemary tucked into his pocket, the award-winning restaurateur is an expert in Italian charcuterie. Casella’s menu includes cured salumi and prosciutto; charred octopus with limoncello and pickled radish; Navajo-Churro lamb angolotti with peas and pecorino; Heritage Foods USA’s pork T-bones, pork loin chops and country ribs, served with fennel salad, farro and polenta; and panna cotta with a ginger pig cookie. 7 p.m., $150 per person includes wine pairings and gratuity, in The Palazzo, cesarecasella.splashthat.com

April 5–8

Set aside plenty of time to savor the whiskey tasting that just gets better with age. The Universal Whisky Experience takes over Encore at Wynn Las Vegas for four days of whiskey master classes, Whisky Speed Dating, Super Pours, networking and pairing dinners. Various ticket packages afford access to additional luxury amenities and gatherings. But if you can attend only one day, be sure to make it to The Nth at 6:30 p.m. on April 7. The Encore ballroom will be flush with whiskey brands and educators as well as a few select Cognacs, plus hors d’oeuvres and cigars. All Nth guests at any ticket level are also invited to celebrate the 40-plus-year career of whisky icon Richard Paterson with a special tasting in the Chairman’s Salon. Dress smart for the smartest brown-spirits fest of the season! $545 Connoisseur ticket, $2,995 High Roller ticket, universalwhiskyexperience.com

The Mad Craft Experience

April 6

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine brings his show, Robert Irvine LIVE, to the Tropicana Theater, where guests will be treated to the high-energy, multisensory theatrical experience for which Irvine is known. Don’t expect a mere cooking demo. Instead, Irvine makes guests the star of the show and brings the hit television show Dinner: Impossible to life with physical and culinary participation challenges. $30, in The Tropicana, troplv.com/robertirvinelive

Wynn Las Vegas debuts the Wynn Master Class Series, a new experiential program hosted by experts from throughout the Wynn and Encore resorts. On April 6, learn to make Pasta, Frank’s Way ($125, 11:30 a.m.) from Sinatra executive chef Theo Schoenegger and the legendary performer’s granddaughter, AJ Lambert. The session includes a three-course lunch, recipe cards, a keepsake gift and a certificate of completion. Other highlights of the series include: Vintner for a Day (April 21) with Wynn executive director of wine Mark Thomas and master sommelier Joseph Spellman from Justin Vineyards; Spin With a Star DJ (May 4) with Wynn/Encore resident DJ Clutch at Intrigue; Mastering the Selfie (May 12) with stylist Claude Baruk at Encore Salon; and Mixology 2.0 (June 9) with property mixologist Damian Cross for a hands-on lesson in crafting classic cocktails. Times vary, call 702-770-7070 for reservations, wynnlasvegas.com

April 7–8

Make the most of the temperate Las Vegas spring weather with Motley Brews’ Great Vegas Festival of Beer. The two-day affair, created by founder Brian Chapin, kicks off on April 7 with a brand-new Mad Craft Experience. The mini fest-within-a-fest will bring together chefs, brewers and bartenders for a competition to find the best experimental beer, beer cocktail, beer blend and specialty beer, as well as beer-friendly cuisine. Then, on April 8, the Grand Tasting will welcome an estimated 10,000 people to the heart of Downtown to taste more than 500 beers from more than 100 breweries, including 18 locals. Be sure to stop by the PT’s Brewing Co. tent to try the official festival beer, a pale ale by head brewer Dave Otto. Culinary partners provide the beer-friendly eats to keep you in top tasting form. 3 p.m., $75 Mad Craft, $40 Grand Tasting, $55 Early Entry at 2 p.m. ($80/$50/$60 at the door), greatvegasbeer.com

David Becker/Getty Images

A host of celebrity chefs attend Vegas Uncork’d

April 14

World-renowned and beloved celebrity chef Mario Batali joins guests to celebrate the 10th anniversaries of B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria with a one-night, multicourse dinner showcasing classic dishes from both restaurants. The evening begins with hors d’oeuvres, Prosecco and spirits served on Otto’s lively patio located in the heart of San Marco Square in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Otto, like its sister outpost on New York’s 8th Street, has the casual feel of a Bolognese enoteca with the energy of a bustling Italian train station. The menu is diverse, decadent and full of variety, featuring an ever-evolving menu of thin-crust, Roman-style pizzas, antipasti meats and cheeses, salads, pastas and main dishes. The festivities will then move to B&B Ristorante, where guests will savor a four-course meal. Regarded as the heart and soul of the Batali & Bastianich style, B&B Ristorante delivers a traditional, regional fine-dining Italian menu in a setting that is best described as elevated old-world charm. The wine list is replete with selections from every region in Italy, and many of them available by the quartino (quarter liter). $50 for Otto reception, $150 for B&B Ristorante dinner, $175 for reception and dinner; in The Venetian, bandbristorante.com, lasvegas.ottopizzeria.com

April 20

Dining with wines from the Monterey Coast to the Willamette Valley, the Charcoal Room presents a five-course pairing dinner featuring the wines of Sonoma County’s La Crema Winery. Starting off the evening is Muscovy duck carpaccio with La Crema’s Monterey Rosé. That’s followed by a citrus-cured seafood composition paired with the 2014 pinot gris, also from California’s Central Coast. Pan roasted Kurobuta pork loin with cornbread follows with the 2014 Sonoma Coast pinot noir. Leave room for the Prime New York steak medallion with the 2014 pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. Finish the night with mascarpone baked Alaska and a 20-year tawny port. 6-8 p.m., $65 per person, in Palace Station, palacestation.com

April 22

If you can’t make it to the beach this spring, let Las Vegas Taste of the Caribbean bring the islands to you. Sample traditional and modern-day Latin American, West Indian and Caribbean cuisine, from sweet potatoes and plantains to seafood the popular jerk dishes. And there will be much more than just spicy food: This event celebrates everything about Caribbean culture with art, crafts, live music and dance performances in traditional bright and flowing costumes. In the Arts District, lvcaribfest.com

The newest festival in the city has the right idea: The Blues With a Side of Bacon festival is a one-day event pairing everyone’s favorite cured meat product with incredible live blues from the likes of Victor Wainwright & the WildRoots, Miles Mosley and Jarekus Singleton. Local restaurants and food trucks will handle the bacon element with culinary items and beverages for purchase. $25 in advance, $30 day of, 3 p.m., Henderson Pavilion, cityofhenderson.com

Dave Becker/Getty Images

The Grand Tasting of Vegas Uncork’d.

April 27–30

An incredible weekend of food, wine and spirits, Vegas Uncork’d returns with a world-class lineup for its 11th year. Renowned chefs, master sommeliers and mixologists come together to showcase one of the nation’s finest epicurean festivals. New and notable events include a 25th anniversary celebration of Spago. Acknowledged as the spark that ignited the city’s culinary phenomenon, Wolfgang Puck will serve his favorite dishes and Spago classics. The event will begin with a premium cocktail reception followed by a seated lunch in the dining room.

Experience a taste of Spain with culinary pioneer José Andrés. The chef will prepare lobster paella over the live fire pit in a dish-and-tell session and share his favorite stories behind the unique restaurant’s menu items, such as José’s Taco (a slice of jamón Ibérico de bellota topped with oscietra caviar and gold flakes) and coca con erizos de mar (crusty Spanish cristal bread topped with sea urchin).

Grazers can do so in the best way possible with chefs Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Roy Ellamar, Akira Back, the Voltaggio brothers and more. Picnic in The Park is an elevated experience with creative twists on classic picnic dishes. It’s also a great opportunity to break away from the formal white linen and silver, and feed your inner child with social activities from board games and shuffleboard to Ping-Pong and corn hole.

A perennial favorite is the Grand Tasting, where a staggering variety of signature dishes are prepared by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. Set within the five-acre Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace, the Grand Tasting will welcome more than 50 chefs and over 100 of the best wines and spirits from around the world. Times, locations and prices vary, vegasuncorked.com

April 28

The Arts District’s most whimsical cocktail bar, Velveteen Rabbit, celebrates its four-year anniversary with Graceland, a tribute to all things Elvis, including Elvis impersonators and burlesque. The peanut butter and banana sandwiches and Blue Hawaiian cocktails will have your hips gyrating like the King. A special limited menu will be available, but there’s no word yet on what it will feature. With spring well underway, expect many citrus, fruit and other warm-weather ingredients you “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with. 1218 S. Main St., velveteenrabbitlv.com

April 29

East Fremont heats up with the 14th annual Louisiana State University Crawfish Boil in Las Vegas. Enjoy fresh, live crawfish boiled under the canopy and Road Kill Barbecue, for those who prefer crustacean-free cuisine. There will also be beer and other beverages, warm beignets, face painting, crafts and Zydeco tunes. If you’re not an LSU fan, tables are available for you to decorate with your favorite team’s logo and colors. Ticket proceeds go to Nevada student LSU scholarships. Starting at $50, the Fremont Street Experience, sincitytigers.com

Get ready for a day of unlimited beer sampling and live jazz by the lake at the MonteLago Village Beerfest benefiting KUNV 91.5-FM, the nonprofit public radio station of UNLV. The outdoor festival will welcome 30 local, regional and national breweries offering more than 100 craft beers plus live music from five local jazz bands, specialty vendors; and a variety of special menu options and tasting stations from MonteLago Village restaurants. 3:30-7 p.m. $35 in advance, $45 day of; VIP tickets include 2 p.m. entry for $45 in advance, $60 day of; mlvbf.com

May 6

Join fellow supporters for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s An Affair of the Art, a black-tie evening of philanthropy, dining and art, with honoree Michael Godard. Starting at 6 p.m., guests will enjoy cocktails, dinner, entertainment, silent and live auctions and a collection of custom artwork by local artists, as well as exclusive St. Jude patient artwork—all while supporting the hospital’s mission of providing treatment for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. $175 before April 1, $200 after, email erica.thompson@stjude.org Red Rock Resort, stjude.org

May 12-13

Back for its fourth year, Golden Nugget Spring Wine Fest keeps it classy with wines from Napa and Sonoma. Kick off the event by sipping with the sharks at The Tank pool on Friday, then enjoy dozens of red and white varieties, hors d’oeuvres, fruit, cheese and chocolates in the Grand Event Center on Saturday night. Take home a souvenir glass, too! $42 – 89, the Golden Nugget, goldennugget.com

Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Atomic Liquor’s Rose Signor

May 13

Local watering hole launched new beer-lovers event with Atomic Liquors Bottle Share. Every second Saturday, bring your own limited-release bomber (a maximum of 25.4 ounces) of beer to share with your pals out on the patio. The only requirement is that the brew must not be readily available in the Nevada market. Ticket includes one draft selection that varies from event to event. $10, Atomic Liquors, atomic.vegas

May 19

Save the date the fourth annual For the Love of Cocktails Grand Gala by Back Bar USA and world-renowned mixologist and author Tony Abou-Ganim. Returning for its fourth year on the Strip, the event will bring together cocktails by United States Bartenders Guild talent and gourmet appetizers and entrées from Alain Ducasse’s Rivea overlooking the cityscape at Skyfall Lounge. Meet at Franklin lobby bar in the Delano for a happy hour reception. At 6 p.m., VIP ticket holders get first crack at the cocktails upstairs, and at 7 p.m., the doors open to general admission. Top-tier entertainers will maintain a party atmosphere. All proceeds benefit the Helen David Relief Fund for bartenders affected by breast cancer. $99 – 149, fortheloveofcocktails.com

May 25

Supporting a good cause never tasted so good, as the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair returns to The Palazzo pool deck for a sumptuous soirée featuring 70 restaurants and nightclubs from around the city, along with a selection of libations. Past participants have included AquaKnox, B&B Ristorante, B&B Burger & Beer, Carlo’s Bakery, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, Delmonico Steakhouse, Lagasse’s Stadium, Lavo Italian Restaurant, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, SushiSamba, Table 10 and Tao Asian Bistro, to name a few. Event proceeds will support the Nevada Restaurant Association’s educational and scholarship programs, including ProStart, a national high school culinary skill and restaurant management program. Tickets are available at any Venetian or Palazzo box office. Tickets start at $110, palazzo.com

June 19-30

Now in its 11th year, Las Vegas Restaurant Week is a celebration of dining for a cause, giving diners and restaurants in our community the opportunity to give back by partaking in the culinary arts. Enjoy gastronomic experiences at award-winning restaurants and local eateries, and your meal could provide up to 18 meals to hungry people in the community. In anticipation of the week, participating restaurants across Southern Nevada develop prix-fixe menus—some offering breakfast, lunch and/or dinner—at price points ranging from $20 to $80, with a fixed portion of the meal’s cost donated to Three Square to help end hunger in Southern Nevada. threesquare.org or helpoutdineoutlv.org

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