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Las Vegas Mixologists Provide Novel New Years Eve Cocktail Recipes,
Including 4 Bold Recipes from Patricia Richards, the Overseer
 of 25 Bars for Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

By Heidi Knapp Rinella, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

December 30, 2009 --New Year's Eve is almost upon us, which means plenty of glasses will be raised in the name of 2009 (and good riddance to it) and 2010 (may it please be a huge improvement).

But what will be in those glasses? Something new and novel? Or the classic cocktail? A little bit of both, as it turns out.

On New Year's Eve, "I think they drink what they do all year, but with a twist," said Catherine Pawelek, co-owner of Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar, 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd.

The holidays in general but especially New Year's Eve prove to be a bartender's -- or mixologist's -- time to shine.

If the partyer's beverage of choice is wine, "there's not much we can do with that," Pawelek said. But mixed drinks? Considering that Elements offers more than 300 martinis, it appears there's much they can do with that -- such as the candy cane martini, tamarilla kiwi martini or the Holy Hollytini, which was inspired by Holly Madison and contains edible gold.

Patricia Richards, mixologist for Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, said she's inspired by the flavors of the holiday season, which tend to be bold.

"When inspiration comes to me, I just kind of roll with it. If it tastes great, I put it on the menu. If it sells, even better," she said.

The professionals know how to bring exotic flavors to their cocktails. Pawelek uses tamarilla fruit, which she said is available at Glazier's Food Market Place, 8525 W. Warm Springs Road. Richards uses Eau de Vie Douglas Fir and lingonberries to evoke the forest. Sam DeMarco, executive chef of First Food & Bar at the Palazzo, uses elderflower liqueur.

Pawelek said the creativity is supported by wider availability of ingredients we once considered offbeat, and a whole slew of unusually flavored liquors.

"With the classic cocktails that we grew up with in the '70s and '80s, now we have access to so many more things," she said. "Flavored simple syrups; fruit juices including guava, kiwi, tamarilla, acai berry, pomegranate, pear, your standards like apple, apricot, strawberry, strawberry-banana. Because so many of the vodkas are flavored these days, you're able to match it up."

Finlandia, she said, has introduced vodkas flavored with grapefruit or tangerine; "Van Gogh just came out with Dutch caramel."

And so, she said, a mundane cocktail becomes truly unusual.

If you're entertaining at home on New Year's Eve, though, you don't have to go out and buy all of the exotic stuff.

"Champagne says celebration all the time," Richards said. "If you don't know what you want to do and have a time constraint, that's the easiest thing. If you want to add something new, Whole Foods has hibiscus flowers with some syrup."

"There's just so many things you can do. Anything warm, if you walk into somebody's house and there's a nice pot of mulled apple cider and the whole house smells wonderful and warm and festive," Richards said, "it gets you in the spirit. You put a little calvados and brandy in there and you feel great."

DeMarco said gin is growing in popularity, but other than that he doesn't see any revolutionary changes.

"The classic cocktail with a twist is where things are at and probably will be for a while," he said. Especially during uncertain times, he added, there's a search for the comfort zone. "People don't want to be challenged. They want to understand what they're getting into."

Here are drink recipes to try. For more, see


Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces Skyy Grape Vodka
1 ounce Chambord
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce champagne
Oro Fino 23 karat edible gold sprinkles (see note)
3 frozen grapes

In a martini shaker filled one-third with ice cubes, pour the vodka, Chambord and Cointreau. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass, add the champagne and sprinkle with the gold. Garnish with the grapes.

Note: Edible gold leaf can be found at most baking-supply stores.

-- Recipe from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar


1 ounce Amaretto di Saronno
1 ounce Kahlua
1/4 ounce dark chocolate syrup (Baristella or other good quality)
2 1/4 ounces half-and-half
Ground nutmeg for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except nutmeg) in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg all over the top.

-- Recipe from Patricia Richards, mixologist, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore


5-Flavor Lifesavers (taken off roll at random)
Cotton candy
1 1/2 ounces Smirnoff
3/4 ounce St. Germain
Splash of pineapple juice
Splash of cranberry juice
1/4 ounce vanilla syrup
Splash of egg white

Crush a Lifesaver or two and use it to rim a martini glass. Put a pinch of cotton candy in the bottom of the glass.

Shake remaining ingredients with ice and strain into the glass.

-- Recipe from Sam DeMarco, First Food & Bar


Pulp of 1/2 tamarilla fruit
2 ounces 42 Degrees Below Kiwi Vodka <>
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces guava juice
Kiwi slice

In a martini shaker, muddle the pulp of the tamarilla fruit with the vodka and Grand Marnier. Add ice cubes and guava juice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the kiwi slice.

-- Recipe from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar


2 ounces Stoli Razberi Vodka
1 crushed candy cane
1/2 ounce peppermint schnapps
1/2 ounce Bailey's Irish Cream or Amarula
1 whole candy cane

Pour a little of the vodka on a small plate and dip the rim of the glass in it. Place the crushed candy cane on a separate plate; dip the moistened rim into it. Shake off any excess candy; reserve remaining crushed candy.

Into a martini shaker one-third filled with ice, pour the rest of the vodka, schnapps and Bailey's or Amarula; shake vigorously. Strain into the rimmed martini glass. Sprinkle a little of the crushed candy cane on top of the martini and hang the whole candy cane from the side.

-- Recipe from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar


1 1/2 ounces Finlandia Wild Berries Vodka
1/4 ounce Clear Creek Eau de Vie Douglas Fir
2 ounces Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained
1 1/2 ounces lingonberry simple syrup (recipe follows)
Pasteurized egg white (optional)
Cranberries for garnish
Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Combine vodka, eau de vie, juices and simple syrup in a mixing glass. If desired, add ounce pasteurized egg white for a frothy look. Add ice and shake well to chill. Strain over fresh ice into a collins glass. Garnish with a spear of cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Serve.

To make simple syrup, combine equal parts fine granulated sugar with bottled water and shake to dissolve. To make lingonberry simple syrup, combine 1 part Darbo Lingonberry Syrup (available at the International Marketplace, 5000 S. Decatur Blvd.) and 2 parts simple syrup in a squeeze bottle.

-- Recipe from Patricia Richards, mixologist, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore


1 1/2 ounces Barbancourt 15-year Estate Rum
1 ounce Mathilde Pear Liqueur
3 ounces Goslings Bermuda Ginger Beer
1 1/4 ounces fresh sweet-and-sour mix (recipe follows)
Lemon spiral for garnish
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except lemon and cherry) in a mixing glass. Add ice and roll ingredients back and forth between mixing glass and tin, two to three times, to combine. Pour into a highball glass and add additional ice as needed. Garnish with lemon spiral twisted over the cocktail (to release its oils) and cherry.

For sweet-and-sour mix, make simple syrup by combining equal parts of fine granulated sugar with bottled water and shaking to dissolve. Then combine equal parts freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice and simple syrup.

-- Recipe from Patricia Richards, mixologist, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore


10 to 12 fresh mint leaves
1 1/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounces frozen cranberries, thawed
2 ounces Finlandia Cranberry Vodka
1 1/2 ounces Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup (or simple syrup made by combining equal parts of fine granulated sugar with bottled water and shaking to dissolve)
1 ounce white cranberry juice
Club soda
Mint sprig for garnish

In a mixing glass, muddle the mint with the lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients (except the mint sprig) with ice and roll ingredients back and forth between mixing glass and tin, three times to combine (cracked ice is best). Pour into a highball glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

-- Recipe from Patricia Richards, mixologist, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore


1 1/2 ounces Goldschlager
1 1/2 ounces Grey Goose Vodka
1 1/2 ounces white cranberry juice
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then shake.

Strain into a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar and garnish with a row of cranberries.

-- Recipe from Sam DeMarco, First Food & Bar


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