Northern Nevada mixologists whip up showstopping cocktail presentations.
Searching out quality cocktails in Northern Nevada typically comes down to taste. Drinks bursting with bright flavors or featuring out-of-the-box combinations of ingredients are worth traveling for. However, when you’re looking for something a bit more celebratory, taste is only part of the experience. A great cocktail presentation elevates a simple drink to entertainment status.
Plenty of restaurants are upping the ante with above-and-beyond cocktail presentations that aren’t so easy to recreate at home. And when you order one of these stunning sippers, you’ll turn heads when your drink order is delivered — likely inspiring other diners to follow suit when they’re ready for their own refills.
Smoke on the Water
Like blowing out your birthday candles, the aptly named smoke on the water at Red Bloom (an Asian Kitchen inside of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno) offers an intricate tableside presentation. The gin-based cocktail — made with Empress Gin, which is infused with butterfly pea blossom, giving the cocktail its indigo color — is presented in an octopus glass before a server uses a Flavour Blaster smoke bubble gun to blow a ginger-infused vapor bubble onto its top. It’s made possible with glucose bubble solution, and when you blow on it, the bubble erupts into a stream of smoke.
In addition to Empress Gin, the cocktail also is made with Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto liqueur, rich in flavors of bergamot orange with a floral quality, and an unfiltered coconut lemongrass negroni sake that provides a grainy texture, before it’s finished with lemon, simple syrup, and chocolate mole bitters.
Also at the Atlantis, but served only in the Steakhouse, is this seasonal cocktail that mixes Angel’s Envy bourbon with a house-made marshmallow syrup and Godiva chocolate to turn out a sweet and sultry beverage for late-night sips. While the drink on its own is delicious, it’s the presentation that takes this strong pick-me-up over the top.
Not only is the campfire song served in a smokebox (a small container that infuses any drink with a rich, smoky flavor), but it also is garnished with a flaming marshmallow for the ultimate tableside production.
Smoked Old Fashioned
Roxy, the luxe haunt inside the Eldorado Resort Casino in Reno, may be best known for its martinis, but there is nothing more traditional than ordering a classic old fashioned. That being said, we all know Roxy doesn’t do anything the usual way, and this specialty cocktail is no different. Prepared tableside, the drink begins when a server adds a splash of whiskey to a decanter and infuses it with smoke. While the whiskey sits (and gets a swirl from the bartender), the rest of the cocktail is prepared and finished with a flaming orange peel before it’s handed off to the recipient — giant ice cube and all.
Roxy manager/bartender Jeff Vachon makes a smoked old fashioned. First, he infuses whiskey in a decanter with smoke, then rests the whiskey while he prepares the rest of the cocktail. He garnishes it with a flaming orange peel before serving the finished drink. Photos by Olga Miller
Spirit of the Sierras
Every season, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe in Truckee touts a new signature cocktail, and this winter, it’s not-so-subtly winking at the very surroundings in which it is made. The whiskey-and-brandy-based blend is served to guests on a wooden tray made from repurposed wood gathered from the Tahoe forest and covered with a glass dome to replicate a smokebox. The drink lands on tables accompanied by pine, herbs, and spices, and the ice cubes are replaced with frozen rocks sourced from the Truckee River. If you want to try it, you’ll have to dine in the on-site Living Room restaurant. The best part? The property will donate $1 from every cocktail served to reforestation efforts in the Tahoe area.
Nora Heston Tarte is a longtime Reno resident. You can follow her local exploits and travel adventures on Instagram @Wanderlust_n_wine.
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
3800 S. Virginia St., Reno
Red Bloom • 775-824-4431 • Atlantiscasino.com/dining/fine-dining/red-bloom
Atlantis Steakhouse • 775-824-4430 • Atlantiscasino.com/dining/fine-dining/atlantis-steakhouse
Roxy at Eldorado Resort Casino
345 N. Virginia St., Reno • 775-785-9066 • Caesars.com/eldorado-reno/restaurants/roxy
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court, Truckee • 530-562-3000 • Ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/lake-tahoe/dining