Cocktails with Tony Abou-Ganim

If you’ve ever had a great—or even a good—cocktail in Las Vegas, one of the people you need to thank is Tony Abou-Ganim. In 1998 hotelier Steve Wynn hired him to set up and run the 22 bars in the Bellagio. During his five years at the casino, Abou-Ganim (aka the Modern Mixologist) served classic recipes and promoted traditional techniques, like using fresh juice, which put the Bellagio on the mixology map. “We weren’t trying to recreate the wheel,” he says. “We were trying to make the wheel better.”

Now, in his long-awaited book The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails ($35.00), Abou-Ganim shares some of the knowledge he’s picked up over his 30 years tending bar. The book contains tips, advice, a concise history of the cocktail and even a forward by his buddy celebrity chef Mario Batali. The volume also includes a well-edited selection of 60 drinks. “I didn’t want to rehash 1,000 recipes,” he says. He did include his all-time favorite cocktail, the Negroni, and his twist on the classic. There’s also a recipe for his signature Cable Car that he created in the mid-1990s when he was working at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in San Francisco. The popular cocktail contains just three ingredients—spiced rum, orange curaçao and homemade lemon sour. “If one of my drinks lives on,” he says. “I think it will be the Cable Car.”

Cable Car

Cable Car

Contributed by: Tony Abou-Ganim

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • .75 oz Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao
  • 1.5 oz Fresh lemon sour*
  • Garnish: Orange spiral
  • Glass: Cocktail rimmed with sugar-cinnamon**

PREPARATION:

In a shaker, add the spiced rum, orange curaçao and fresh lemon sour. Shake with ice until well blended. Strain into a chilled cinnamon-sugar rimmed cocktail glass and garnish with an orange spiral.

*The lemon sour is made from two parts fresh lemon juice with one part simple syrup. (Simple syrup is one part water and one part sugar.)

**To add a sugar-cinnamon rim, first chill the cocktail glass. Rub the rim’s circumference with a lemon wedge. Dip the rim into a bowl with a mixture containing 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and .5 cup superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar does not adhere as well).

Neighborhood Negroni

Neighborhood Negroni

Contributed by: Tony Abou-Ganim

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 oz Junipero Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
  • Garnish: Burnt orange twist
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

In an ice-filled mixing glass, add gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a burnt orange twist.

For the Italian version, add gin, Campari and sweet vermouth to an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Stir and garnish with an orange slice.

Recipes are from The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails. (Photos by Tim Turner.)

Locations: 839 Las Vegas Nevada

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