Leave it to Las Vegas to come up with a new trend to entice your taste buds. Tea, hot or cold, has always been a favorite beverage, but now some of the top mixologists and chefs in Las Vegas are taking tea to a new level of flavoring by incorporating it into desserts and beverages.
To take a look at the creation of one of the more famous tea drinks in Las Vegas we sat down with mixologist Aaron Baca of Sage, located inside of ARIA. The “Tea Rose” is not only one of the featured cocktails at Sage, but it is one of those drinks that people know by name and come in just give it a try. Death’s Door vodka, not your run of the mill vodka, is infused with flowery earl grey tea at the restaurant to create this unique flavor. Taking the tea infused vodka, preparing it with St. Germain, lemon juice, rose water, pine nuts and simple syrup you have a light and refreshing drink unlike any other. Tea drinkers do vary on how sweet they like it, so just let your server know how you like it and they add more or less of the in-house prepared simple syrup to create a flavor to your liking.
“I think with some of the new cocktails that are being created you are finding that they are getting back to their roots," Aaron said. "Instead of tasting the sugar you are actually tasting the quality of the spirit."
Tea is a great ingredient to enhance or create a drink, it has the ability to blend in with a wide variety of liquors in a very subtle fashion. There is such a wide assortment of teas on the market that you can really create any flavor imaginable. Sage Chef Shawn McClain brought Death's Door vodka to Las Vegas from the Door County in the midwest just for that reason, as this high end vodka really takes on the flavor of the tea.
Aaron had a great tip that did not ever cross the mind of this novice drinker, go for drinks that have ingredients that are in season. Your favorite drink might be made with a blood orange, well in the winter and spring months you will find this drink far more flavorful, as you get into the summertime and fall you will get a less pleasing drink.
Aaron also added that for all of you who love pairing Red Bull or Rockstar with alcohol, tea is the perfect alternative. You can get the natural caffeine of tea while allowing you to taste more of your drink and at the same time avoiding all of the sugar and other ingredients that go along with all energy drinks.
Lemongrass, also at ARIA, is home to another tea libation that should help entice you into what is the first Thai restaurant located on the Las Vegas Strip. The “Spiked Chai” is a combination of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, chai tea, coconut milk and rock candy. Definitely on the sweet end of the cocktail scale, this drink does pair perfectly for the spicy Thai cuisine at Lemongrass.
The Bellagio is home to mixologist and assistant director of beverages Matt Myers, who has created a trio of tea inspired drinks to help you deal with the Las Vegas heat.
Matt created his English “Tea Time” to hit you with a double dose of tea flavor. First he took one of the latest creations from Absolut, taking their Wild Tea Vodka and he blended that with chilled Earl Grey tea and then sweetened it and gave it a little fruitiness to it with a splash of White Peach juice.
Vodka is really a perfect liquor to take on the flavor of tea, but Gin is not a bad alternative. If you enjoy Gin then give the Buenos Aires Iced Tea a try next you are at the Bellagio. The smoothness of Plymouth Gin is paired with two fabulous teas, Matcha Green Tea and Yerba Maté.
Lastly Matt created a non-alcoholic drink that also is a great substitute for the Red Bulls of the world with his Toro “Natural Energy Drink.” First Matt goes with his favorite chilled Yerba Maté, Japanese Matcha Green Tea syrup and Yuzu Citrus.
Sticking with the Bellagio, if you are going to be hitting the pool check out Cypress, the VIP Pool area. Bellagio treats their special guests with a complimentary Mango Iced Tea Smoothie, exclusively created by Chef Brad Skougard. Tropical mango and lemon sorbets are blended with freshly brewed black tea and fresh peaches for a cool drink to enjoy while soaking up the hot rays.
When Chef Akira Back is not creating an assortment of unique sushi and main courses at the beautiful Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge, he decided to turn his creativity to green tea. Chef Back created his Green Tea Mousse Cake, which is a light green tea-scented mousse layered between Asian sponge cake. Coming up with the recipe for the mousse had to be time consuming adventure. Chef Back had to find that right flavor of not overpowering, while still allowing you to have that full green tea flavor. Chef Back pulled it off as it has a very subtle flavor and the lightness and refreshing taste goes perfectly between the layers of sponge cake that are cloud like with their airness. Always a dilemma after a fine meal, what to have for dessert. The Green Tea Mousse Cake is a tasty way to compliment anything that comes out Chef Back’s kitchen. If you want to grab the perfect dish to enjoy prior to dessert, grab the Big Eye Tuna Pizza. A very delicate and flaky crust and amazing tuna that has that wow added to it from truffle, enjoy this along with the Tea Mousse Cake and you will have a light but incredibly satisfying meal.
If you are looking for something a little more heavy and rich to satisfy your sweet tooth, executive pastry chef Megan Romano has created just what you are looking for at Aureole located inside of Mandalay Bay. Creating the restaurant’s line of house-made chocolates, she has incorporated tea into the wide arrangement of flavors that are offered at Aureole. Some of the flavors include eros, mountain berry, Aureole blend and organic peppermint, that provide you with a wide range of flavorful chocolates while giving you that subtle flavor of tea in each piece of chocolate.
Next time you are in Las Vegas and you are looking for something different give tea a try. Not your typical tea, but in a recipe that will allow you to enjoy all of the natural flavor that can be taken in so many directions by the amazing chefs in Las Vegas.
For more information on Death Door Spirits, visit: http://deathsdoorspirits.com/home.php
For more information on ARIA Resort & Casino and all of its restaurants, visit: http://www.arialasvegas.com/