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Seven Grand: Bartenders make this place my favorite!

Seven Grand: Bartenders make this place my favorite!

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Bartenders make this place my favorite!

Not only are they nice, but they pour really strong and good drinks at decent prices! The bartenders at Seven Grand completely exhibit great service for a bar. A great place for a drink in LA.

Seven Grand: Bartenders make this place my favorite! - Recipes

It’s hard to believe that just over four years ago, Los Angeles was a (relative) cocktail wasteland.

The city had yet to recover from the near-death of bartending and mixology, the nadir of which gave us the once-ubiquitous artificially-colored and -flavored green “apple-tinis,” and more often than not the best you could do (other than drink beer, wine or straight spirits) was an overly-sweet (and equally ubiquitous) Cosmopolitan.

Things began to look up for us in the early 󈧄s, when Wes and I became regulars at a wonderful (and now-closed) restaurant in Glendale called Cinnabar. Our friend Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh worked with them to put together an amazing menu of classic cocktails, and on our first visit we were thrilled to see it. Finally, a place where we could go out and get a really good classic cocktail! We also quickly became thrilled with the food, and drank and dined there regularly until they closed in 2005.

For me, the moment when the switch got flipped was at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2007. I had just finished participating in a seminar on homemade and defunct cocktail ingredients in which I did a presentation on my homemade allspice liqueur when a young bartender approached and introduced himself. “I just helped open a bar in Los Angeles — we’ve been open for three months now, and I really want you to come.” I had actually heard about this bar, although being God Emperor of Procrastination I hadn’t made it over there yet. The bartender was Marcos Tello, the bar was Seven Grand, and the rest is history. Los Angeles’ cocktail renaissance — for me, at least — had begun.

Now … we have such a mindbogglingly large number of truly wonderful cocktail bars (many of them world-class) in this city that I cannot keep up with them all. I thought it was about time I made a list of them, and I’ll make it sticky somewhere on the site so that it’ll be easy to find.

These are bars in which bartenders (and their trusty barbacks) squeeze their own juices (which is now de rigueur in a bar in which I’ll drink cocktails, as far as I’m concerned). These are bars in which you won’t have to ask if they have rye whiskey, unless you want to know how many different ones they stock. You won’t have to remind the bartender that a Manhattan contains bitters, and you’re unlikely to get a muddled Old Fashioned in which the orange slice and fake neon red artificially flavored cherry are mashed into a nasty pulp. They’ll have menus of classic and creative new cocktails. Many if not most of them use large, clear ice cubes and crack their own ice for stirring or shaking some actually make their own ice. Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are used. Housemade syrups and bitters are not uncommon.

This is where to drink in L.A. (and environs). Most are free-standing bars, some are restaurants, all of them will serve you a really good drink. Many of them will serve you an amazing one.

320 Main, 320 Main St., Seal Beach, CA 90740. (562) 799-6246. Jason Schiffer, co-proprietor. Erik Trickett, Matt Robold et al., bartenders.

A-Frame Restaurant, 12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066. (310) 398-7700. Bar program by Brian Butler.

Areal, 2820 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 392-1661. Rich Andreoli.

Bar 1886 at the Raymond, 1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 441-3136. Cocktail menu by Marcos Tello & Aidan Demarest, and the crew of 1886: Head bartender Garrett McKechnie and bartenders Danny Cymbal, Brady Weise, Greg Gertmenian, Lacey Murillo, et al.

Bar | Kitchen, O Hotel, 819 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90017. (213) 623-9904 x105. Bar program by Alex Day and David Kaplan.

Bar Bouchon, 235 N Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 281-5698. Small and casual, downstairs from and to the right of the restaurant’s main entrance.

Bar Centro, The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, 465 S La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 246-5555.

Bar Marmont, 8171 W. Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90046. (323) 650-0575.

Big Bar at The Alcove, 1929 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 644-0100. Juan Sevilla et al., bartenders.

Black Market Liquor Bar, 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604. (818) 446-2533. Tricia Alley, Ray Ewers, et al., bartenders.

Bottega Louie, 700 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017. (213) 802-1470. Across the street from Seven Grand.

Bouchon Bistro, 235 N Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 271-9910. The upstairs bar in the bistro has a separate staff and menu.

Caña Rum Bar, 714 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015. (213) 745-7090. Enter at the first private driveway south of Olympic on Flower St. Members only membership is open and is $20 annually. Allan Katz, general manager.

Church & State Bistro, 1850 Industrial St., Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 405-1434.

Cole’s Red Car Bar, 118 East 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 622-4090.

Comme Ça Restaurant, 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 782-1104.

Copa d’Oro, 217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 576-3030. Vincenzo Marianella, proprietor.

Craft Los Angeles, 10100 Constellation Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067. (310) 279-4180.

La Descarga,1159 North Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 466-1324. Steve Livigni, general manager. Pablo Moix, Ken Arbuckle, et al., bartenders.

Drago Centro, 525 S Flower St., Suite #120, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 228-8998. Michael Shearin, sommelier & beverage director. Jaymee Mandeville, Jen Len, Mark Blackhart et al., bartenders.

The Edison, 108 W 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 613-0000.

El Carmen Restaurant, 8138 W Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 852-1552. Large selection of tequilas.

The Eveleigh Restaurant, 8752 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. (424) 239-1630.

First & Hope Supper Club, 710 W 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 617-8555.

Harvard & Stone, 5221 Hollywood Blvd. (at N. Harvard), Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 466-6063. Bar program by Steve Livigni & Pablo Moix of La Descarga. Matt Wallace, head bartender, with bartenders Rich Andreoli, Nathan Oliver, Francois Vera & Mia Sarazen, opening crew.

Hemingway’s Lounge, 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. (323) 469-0040.

The Hungry Cat, 135 N Vine St. at Sunset, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 462-2155.

Jones, 7205 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 850-1726. Eric “E.T.” Tecosky et al, bartenders.

Las Perlas, 107 E 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 988-8355. Across the street from Cole’s. Tequila & mezcal.

Library Bar, Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Matthew Biancaniello, Ryan Green, Brady Weise et al., bartenders.

Malo Taqueria, 4326 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029. (323) 664-1011.

Mixology 101 at Planet Dailies, 6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. O20, Los Angeles, CA 90036, (323) 370-6560. Bar manager Joseph Brooke.

Musso and Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 467-7788.

Neat, 1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale, CA 91202. (818) 241-4542. Owner Aidan Demarest. Bartenders Cari Hah, et al.

Next Door Lounge, 1154 N Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 465-5505. Head barman, Joe Brooke.

Osteria Mozza, 6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 297-0100. Finest collection of Italian amari in Los Angeles, perhaps anywhere.

The Parish, 840 S. Spring St. at 9th, Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 225-2400. John Coltharp, head bartender. Leo Rivas, Edwin Cruz, Brian Summers, et al. Chef Casey Lane.

Picca Peru, 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 277-0133.

Plan Check Bar, 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 288-6500.

Playa, 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 933-5300.

Pour Vous, 5574 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004. (323) 871-8699. Pablo Moix, Dave Fernie, et al.

Providence Restaurant, 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 460-4170. Zahra Bates, bartender.

Rivera Restaurant, 1050 S Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90015. (213) 749-1460. Julian Cox et al., bartenders.

The Roger Room, 370 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (310) 854-1300. Damian Windsor, Jason Bran et al., bartenders.

Seven Grand, 515 W 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 614-0737.

Sotto Restaurant, 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 277-0133. Cocktails by Julian Cox and team.

The Spare Room, Mezzanine Level, Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Two bowling alleys, backgammon and chess tables, board games.

Sunny Spot, 822 Washington Blvd. at Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA 90292. (310) 448-8884. Brian Butler, et al.

The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291. (310) 392-6644. John Coltharp, Justin Pike et al., bartenders.

The Thirsty Crow, 2939 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA. (323) 661-6007.

Tiki-Ti, 4427 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 669-9381. Mike Buhen Sr. & Jr., bartenders.

Tlapazola Grill, 11676 Gateway Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064 (310) 477-1577. Edwin Cruz, bartender and co-proprietor.

Tony’s Saloon, 2017 E 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 622-5523.

The Varnish, 118 E Sixth St., Los Angeles 90014. (213) 622-9999. Entrance through a non-descript door in the back of the dining room in Cole’s French Dip. Eric Alperin, co-owner & bartender. Chris Bostick, manager & bartender. Devon Tarby et al., bartenders.

Villains Tavern, 1356 Palmetto, Los Angeles, CA 91003. (213) 613-0766. Dave Whitton, co-owner & bartender, et al.

Westside Tavern, 10850 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (310) 470-1539. Kylee Van Dillen, Dan McClary, et al., bartenders.

If I’ve missed any, shout at me in the comments. Also … I know it’s fraught with peril to list any bartenders in bar listings — it’s almost a full-time job keep track of where my bartender friends are working. I’ve thrown in a few more well-known names of people that I know are relatively settled, for the time being at least.

Next stop … where to get a great cocktail in New Orleans.

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Best Practices: The Key to Mastering Margaritas Is Attention to Detail

Ask 10 people of legal drinking age if they like Margaritas, and expect to get a shiny dime in return.

Margaritas have been the most popular cocktail in the U.S. for two consecutive years, according to Nielsen data. Tequila sales across the United States are up 9.9 percent. And the 1971 invention of frozen Margs most certainly laid the groundwork for today’s Frosé and Pinot Freezio it also transformed a fledgling Texas family dining restaurant, Chili’s, into a national chain raking in $3.42 billion a year.

A classic Margarita requires just three ingredients: tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. The simplicity of that rubric leaves little room for error, yet ample space for innovation. Thus, the proliferation of alternatively strange and sublime Margarita variations in prepackaged mixers or creative bars.

The key to making praise-worthy Margaritas at home is attention to detail.

“As a three-ingredient cocktail, each component plays a central role,” Jim Kearns, bar director and managing partner, The Happiest Hour and Slowly Shirley in NYC, says. “With so few ingredients, any attempt to cut corners will stand out.”

We asked Kearns and other bartenders across the country for their tips. Here are six dos and don’ts for mastering Margaritas.

What To Do When Making Margaritas

1. Juice Your Own Limes.

We spoke to seven bartenders about making great Margaritas, and every one stressed the importance of freshly squeezed lime juice.

“I’d much rather drink a Margarita made with cheap tequila and fresh lime juice, than one made with premium liquor and store-bought sour mix,” Aren Bellendo, lead bartender at SideDoor and Lawry’s in Chicago, says.

Pre-made mixes and bottled juices have varying amounts of sugar that will throw off your cocktail’s sweet-sour balance. Stick with natural ingredients like homemade juice, however, and you will know exactly how much sweetness you need to add to offset the tart citrus.

2. Use the Best Tequila You Can Afford.

You might have a cheap bottle of tequila lying around, or see one on triple-markdown at your local package store. It’s tempting to throw that into a cocktail and hope that the other ingredients will hide its flaws.

Resist this urge. Because there are so few components in a Margarita, each one matters. If you use low-quality tequila with off flavors or a boozy aftertaste, your cocktail will have those exact same flaws.

“Only 100 percent Weber blue agave tequila should be used, ever, for anything,” Kearns says. His favorite tequilas for making Margaritas include Siete Leguas, Siembra Azul, Cabeza, and Pueblo Viejo Blanco. We also like Casa Noble Crystal and these six others.

(If you don’t have the time or budget for a new bottle of tequila, remember the previous tip about the merit of freshly squeezed limes. Whole fruit is typically less expensive than prepared juices or mixers, too.)

3. Know Your Ratios.

One common Margarita mistake is over-sweetening the cocktail, according to Kenneth McCoy, chief creative officer of Public House Collective, a hospitality group in NYC. “You want the lime to come through and have a subtle bite to it, not to feel like you are drinking a Slurpee from 7-Eleven,” he says.

The best way to make a perfectly sweet-sour Margarita is to know your ratios.

“The ratios are everything,” Amanda Swanson, agave sommelier at Añejo in NYC, says. “From there you can adjust to your own personal taste.”

Our classic Margarita recipe calls for 1 ¾ parts tequila to 1 part lime juice to ¾ part orange liqueur. If you prefer a sweeter drink, swap out half the liqueur for agave nectar. Still too tart? Continue adding agave and reducing other ingredients until you’ve hit your perfect balance.

Bartenders often prefer agave nectar over simple syrup for this purpose, saying it provides a smoother, subtler sweetness.

4. Orange You Glad You Bought Liqueur?

The easiest ingredient to overlook is the orange liqueur. Triple sec seems like a weird thing to buy for just one cocktail, right? Can’t you just add a splash of orange juice or something?

Not if you want a well-balanced drink. Triple sec, a term used interchangeably with curaçao, is a type of orange liqueur that provides fruity flavors as well as sweet and bitter notes — all of which are essential for a well-made Margarita. Popular labels include Cointreau, Combier, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao, and Grand Marnier.

Swanson likes to use Cointreau in her Margaritas because it’s made with bitter orange peels, so she finds it “drier than many brands of triple sec, and considerably less sweet than brandy-based Grand Marnier,” she says.

Kearns opts for Cointreau or Combier, the 1834 orange liqueur that purports to be the world’s first triple sec. David Mor, beverage manager at Cindy’s in Chicago, prefers Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao in his Margaritas.

“The most important thing there is to avoid anything that is simply called ‘Triple Sec,’” Kearns says. “This was a marketing statement devised by Cointreau at one point in its long history, and knock-off brands latched onto it.” Consider yourself warned.

What to Avoid When Making Margaritas

1. Don’t Salt the Entire Rim.

Like your Margaritas with salt? Season away, but take care when rimming the glass. Excess flakes will inevitably fall into your cocktail, throwing off its flavors and balance.

Cocktailers like industry legend Dale DeGroff advise salting a segment of the glass rim instead of its entirety. It prevents your drink from ever getting too saline, and gives you the option of taking a sip with or without a mouthful of salt.

“Generally speaking, if we do a rim we do half a rim,” Don Lee, partner, Existing Conditions in NYC, says. “That way everyone has the option.” Make sure you are only salting the outside of the rim of the glass, too, Lee says.

2. Skip the Lime Garnish.

You probably have one or two extra limes lying around after making all that lovely fresh juice. Don’t slice them into wedges to use as garnishes, no matter how natural that seems.

Why? Because your drink is perfectly balanced at this point. By adding a lime wedge, you are inviting someone to squeeze it into their drink. That will “throw off the citric balance of the cocktail,” Mor says. Instead, he suggests expressing an orange peel on top, giving the drink a citrusy aroma without the threat of more acid. Margaritas, like most things in life, are all about balance.

How to be a superstar bartender

If you want to learn how to mix drinks like a pro, you probably don't want to do what I did in 1973, when I was starting out behind the stick in the United States. I found a bar where the bartenders knew what they were doing, and I became a regular there, sitting at the end of the bar, listening to the wait staff ordering drinks and watching the bartenders make them, every night for about a month. My liver took an awful pounding.

Rather than suggesting that you go through that same arduous ordeal, I'll walk you through 10 steps that will put you on the path toward bartender superstardom. Well, something like that. Before we begin, know this: If you believe that you know what you're doing, and if you can pull it off without apology, you're 90 percent there.

1. Measuring ingredients

Measuring liquid ingredients precisely is a cinch if you use a jigger - the device you've seen bartenders use that looks like two tiny metal ice cream cones joined at the base. New jiggers - specifically the Oxo brand - look like miniature jugs with lines that let you know how much liquor you're pouring.

1 of 30 marco testa/E+ via Getty Images Show More Show Less

2 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, and Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrate their shaking techniques. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

4 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates straining with a julep strainer. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

5 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates straining with a Hawthorne with a twist at the end. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

7 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates measuring with a jigger. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

8 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates how to make an old fashioned. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

10 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates shaking. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

11 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove,, demonstrates shaking. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

13 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates flaming. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

14 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates stirring. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

16 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates zesting. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

17 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates muddling herbs. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

19 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates rimming a glass. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

20 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates how to chill a glass. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

22 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates how to rinse a glass with 1/2-oz of absinthe. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

23 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates citrus twists. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

25 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates flaming. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

26 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates rimming a glass. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

28 of 30 Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa, demonstrates zesting. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

29 of 30 Jackie Patterson, bartender at Heaven's Dog and Smuggler's Cove, demonstrates muddling fruit. Russell Yip/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

There's nothing wrong with using a jigger, and some of today's best bartenders do exactly that, though other equally accomplished mixologists use the free-pouring method. Here's how it's done: Fit a bottle full of water with any brand of pour spout - different styles pour at different speeds. Pour into the 1-ounce side of a jigger, counting in your head, until you have poured an ounce. Repeat. Repeat again. Soon you will know what number to count to in order to pour an ounce, and once you know your number you'll be able to accurately pour without a jigger for the rest of your life. Providing you use the same brand of pourer, that is.

2. Shaking

All drinks containing eggs, dairy products or fruit juices should be shaken, while drinks such as the dry gin martini and the Manhattan should be stirred. Although some bartenders like to shake martinis, nobody worth his or her Margarita salt would ever stir a drink that called for, say, lemon juice, milk or an egg white.

It's also good to know that as you chill the drink, you're also trying to incorporate enough water to make the cocktail palatable: One ounce of a 4-ounce drink that's been properly stirred or shaken will be water melted from ice.

Although metal cocktail shakers that include a built-in strainer look pretty spiffy, I far prefer to use a Boston shaker. The Boston shaker is made up of two flat-bottomed cones, one metal, one glass. There's something about this piece of equipment that makes me think that anyone who can use it properly means business. It's a serious tool. And it's a cinch to master.

Pour in the ingredients for the drink, fill the mixing-glass half of the shaker about two-thirds full of ice and place the metal half on top of the glass, giving it a sharp tap to ensure you have formed a watertight seal.

Now hold the shaker with both hands - one on the glass part, the other on the metal - and make sure that the glass points toward your shoulder as you shake. There have been occasions when the glass has flown from the shaker, and if that happens, you don't want it to fly into the room in front of you. Far better that it hits your shoulder, right?

Now I'll let you in on the secret of shaking drinks like a pro: You gotta shake that darned thing as if your life depended on it. Shake it as if you're trying to mix oil and water. Make a stupid face as you're shaking - everyone does this, you know. And shake it for at least 15 seconds if you want your drink to be cold enough.

Now you have to break that shaker apart. Hold the metal half in one hand so the glass is on top, and using the heel of your other hand, tap the metal sharply at the point where the two are joined.

For a Mai Tai recipe using this technique, go to

3. Stirring

Take the mixing-glass half of a Boston shaker, pour in the ingredients, fill the glass about two-thirds full of ice and grab your trusty bar spoon. Note that your bar spoon has a twisted shaft. It's a functional part of the design.

Hold the twisted part of the shaft of the spoon between your thumb and first two fingers. Plunge the spoon into the mixing glass, and twirl the spoon back and forth by moving your fingers away from, then toward yourself. While you're doing this you should also be moving the spoon up and down in the glass. Stir the drink for between 20 and 30 seconds to achieve the desired temperature.

For a Rob Roy recipe using this technique, go to

4. Straining

One of my favorite bartenders used to strain drinks through her fingers, and that was a thing of great beauty, but I'm guessing that you'll want to be just a tad more conventional, so I'll guide to as to how to use both a spring-loaded Hawthorne strainer and a standard Julep strainer. The Hawthorne strainer should be used when pouring from the metal half of a Boston shaker the Julep strainer is used to strain drinks from the mixing glass.

Sit the Hawthorne strainer firmly onto the mouth of the metal cone, or allow the Julep strainer to rest inside the mixing glass. Place your index finger over the top of the strainer to hold it firmly in place and strain the drink into the serving glass. When you get to the last drop, give the glass a sharp twist in any direction as you return it to an upright position, so any remaining drops of liquid don't fall on the bar. It's this twist that makes you look like a pro, so practice it a few times before you perform the maneuver in front of your friends.

5. Muddling

If you can muddle like you mean it, people are going to take you very seriously. Muddlers - basically, pestles for bartenders - come in all shapes, sizes and materials. I prefer wooden muddlers because they feel good, look good and by golly they muddle good, too.

You're going to need a sturdy glass in which to muddle because, depending on the ingredients in question, you might have to put some elbow grease into this. Put a sugar cube into a double old-fashioned glass, douse it liberally with bitters, grab your muddler by the tail, and crush all heck out of that sugar cube until it has completely dissolved into the bitters. If you think you did a good job, you might want to think about adding some ice and whiskey and having a nice Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.

When muddling herbs, you need to be a little more gentle, lest you release the bitterness from their stems. You're just looking to gently squeeze the essential oils out of, say, some mint leaves, and flavor the simple syrup that's in the glass. The real secret behind muddling is to make sure you tell your guest what you're doing and why you're doing it: "I'm being gentle with this mint because . " Now you're muddling and showing off at the same time. Just like a real bartender.

6. Making a citrus twist

Citrus twists - the strips of fruit zest that incorporate a little of the white inner pith for sturdiness - add aroma and flavor to a cocktail when the bartender releases their essential oils onto the top of a drink. Try to make twists at least 1/2 inch wide so you have enough citrus oils to make a difference. Some people use a zester, which can yield a pretty-looking garnish, but the idea of introducing essential oils to the drink gets lost.

Hold the twist over the cocktail with the colored side pointing toward the surface of the drink. Hold the twist between your thumb and forefinger. Turn one end clockwise and the other counterclockwise. The oils will be released and will fall onto the top of the drink. Now rub the colored side of the twist around the rim of the glass so that any remaining oils adhere to the rim of the glass, and drop the twist into the drink.

Wanna get flashy? You can set a flame to those oils and watch them sparkle as they fly from the twist. Cut a very wide twist, and place it on the bar next to the drink with the colored side resting on the bar. Now light a match or a toothpick, and hold it close to the top of the drink. Take the twist in your other hand and hold it, colored side out, by the sides, using your thumb on one side and your first two or three fingers on the other side. Hold the twist over the flame - for orange twists, it's good to give it a couple of seconds to coax the oils to the surface - and squeeze it to release its oils. Blow out the match, drop the twist into the drink and look at the admiration in the eyes of your guest.

For a recipe using this technique, go to

7. Using herbs

It's important to match the scent of the herb with the appropriate cocktail. Rosemary and thyme, for instance, work really well with gin-based drinks cilantro works in Bloody Marys and with tequila and mint is commonly called for in the Mojito, and of course, the Mint Julep. You'll find that if you place, say, a sprig of mint in your palm, and slap it with your other hand, immediately before placing it on top of the drink, the aroma will be more intense.

You can also muddle herbs as described above, or you can simply put a sprig of this or that into your shaker or mixing glass with the rest of the ingredients in the drink-when you stir or shake the cocktail, the herb's flavors will be released, though they will be a little more delicate than they would have been had the herb been muddled.

Pumpkin Drinks


  • 2oz Pisco
  • 1tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4oz Juiced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (Trader Joes)

Shake and strain in to a tall glass with ice.

Garnish: Orange peel dusted with cinnamon

‘ Zucca’ is the Italian word for Pumpkin and is another of Greg Bryson’s drinks from his 2o12 Fall menu at Hostaria Del Piccolo, Santa Monica. I honestly thought the use of so many strong flavors like coconut, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin and beer would taste really off balance and kind of messy. The end result is the complete opposite though! The flavors work well together and compliment each other beautifully. Unlike most pumpkin drinks i’ve had this one isn’t overly creamy and rich, instead it is refreshing, slightly sweet and surprisingly balanced.

The recipe is understandably a little difficult to recreate at home,so if you find yourself in Santa Monica this Autumn definitely pop in to Hostaria to try this tasty option.

Great Pumpkin

  • 2 oz Pumpkin ale
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded rye
  • 1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 whole egg

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

This creamy, pumpkin cocktail was created by Jim Meehan of PDT for his Fall menu in 2008. It captures rich Autumnal flavors perfectly by using apple brandy, maple syrup and pumpkin ale. According to the ‘PDT Cocktail Book’, 2011 they named it ‘Great Pumpkin’ as a reference to Charles Schultz‘s masterpiece ‘It’s the Great pumpkin, Charlie Brown’, 1966.

Meehan suggests Southampton pumpkin ale, but honestly any good brand will work. Using a whole egg makes this drink a ‘Flip’, and although a lot of people are put off by the thought of an egg in their drink, I have to say it’s honestly not so much a taste factor as it is mouth feel. When shaken well the egg creates a deliciously creamy foam, and that fluffy topping is the best part of the drink in my opinion! It basically tastes like a pumpkin egg nog. The nutmeg gives a great nose too, this is just a perfect drink for fall.

If you want to try it somewhere special this recipe is currently available on the drinks list at The Penthouse @ Mastros in Beverly Hills.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you… Go carve your pumpkins and get in the mood for October 31st!

Processing Payments

Having a balanced drawer at the end of the night is obviously important for any retail sales business. And bars are no exception. The trick with bars is that it’s a much more hectic environment than most other retail environments. Keeping accurate tabs, closing out payments quickly, and having a balanced drawer is no small feat in a busy bar. It requires great attention to detail. That’s why this rises to the level of one of the 7 most important bartender duties.

7 Tricks from Bartenders on How to Make a Better Mint Julep

While the Kentucky Derby may have passed, there’s no time like the present to enjoy one of the sport’s most deliciously iconic, refreshing drinks: the mint julep. Especially when the present—May 30—is Mint Julep Day. To celebrate the holiday, we’ve compiled tips, tricks and recipes from bartenders across the country, including the mint julep’s home state of Kentucky.


Muddling is one of the most important steps in the mint julep process, according to James Bolt, beverage director and bar manager at The Gin Joint in Charleston, South Carolina. But don’t just start pounding away first, you must understand the process.

“Most people think muddling is the hard pounding motion of breaking up and releasing the flavor, but such force will release a bitter compound,” says Bolt. “The key is to gently press on the mint leaves so the natural oils are released.”


The mint julep is as much about flavor as it is smell. To capitalize on the mint’s inherently strong scent, Bolt suggests placing your head as close to the straw as possible to soak up the aromas. Cincinnati’s most respected mixologist, Molly Wellmann, also recommends placing the straw directly down the middle of the mint sprig to further excite the senses.


Take the sensory overload one tasteful step further by rubbing the glass with mint leaves prior to pouring the drink. This trick belongs to Keri Smith, head bartender at Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar in Louisville, Kentucky. By rubbing the glass, the mint’s oils last longer, adding that strong, minty aroma to each and every sip.


While ice is usually an afterthought, it’s of utmost importance when it comes to the mint julep. Pros like Bolt and Wellmann opt for freshly crushed ice rather than the standard cubed variety, but rest assured: Even if you don’t have a fancy ice-crushing machine, you can still make a mean mint julep.

“Use a Lewis bag and a mallet, or a shaker and a muddler,” Wellmann says. “Just be sure to use crushed ice!”


Sure, the drink’s called a mint julep, but you don’t have to stick solely to mint. Smith has a number of unconventional mint julep concoctions at Doc Crow’s, such as a mint julep lemonade and a Near Easter Julep that substitutes basil for mint, and includes ginger for warmth and spice.


A high-class drink deserves high-quality liquor. Fred Minnick, the Kentucky Derby Museum’s bourbon authority and drinks historian, suggests using high-proof bourbons that “will stand up to the ice and stick out.” His favorites are Baker’s Bourbon, a seven-year-old, 107-proof whiskey from Jim Beam, or 107-proof Old Weller Antique, the only accessible wheated bourbon that can handle the mint julep’s ice.


Why should bourbon have all the fun? Wellmann likes to spice things up, topping off her mint juleps with a little dark rum to bring out the drink’s caramel and vanilla notes.

As you prepare your own concoctions to celebrate today’s national holiday, here are two recipes to get you well on your way to mint julep perfection.

The Gin Joint Mint Julep, courtesy of James Bolt

2 ozs Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon (or customer’s bourbon of choice)
.5 oz Demerara simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
10-12 fresh mint leaves

Add the mint leaves to a Julep tin and gently muddle to extract essential oils. Then add the Demerara syrup, bourbon and Angostura bitters. Fill the julep tin with crushed ice and shape in to a snow cone of ice on top. Gently garnish with slapped mint and a straw.

Doc Crow’s Near Eastern Julep, courtesy of Keri Smith

2 ozs Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
.5 oz Becherovka
.5 oz ginger syrup
Basil leaves

In a double old fashioned glass, rub basil leaves along inside. Add ingredients to glass. Fill glass with crushed ice, swizzle with bar spoon for five seconds. Garnish with slapped basil leaf.


The Mudslide is the quintessential boozy milkshake: sweet, creamy and rich. Its popularity harkens back to a time when we took our cocktail cues from the laminated menus of chain restaurants. Which is to say, it’s not generally an exercise in balance and craftsmanship.

The Mudslide was born in the 1970s at Wreck Bar in Rum Point Club on Grand Cayman Island. Yes, it seems more like an après-ski cocktail than something you’d sip on a sandy beach. But it was invented when a customer wanted a White Russian and the bar tweaked the recipe to feature Irish cream. The effortless drink was a hit, finding its way to American shores and quickly becoming a favorite at TGI Friday’s and at-home cocktail parties.

Most versions of the Mudslide are drowned in ice cream and served in circus-size glassware, resulting in a brain freeze and your daily dose of calories in one cocktail. This Mudslide sways leaner and showcases the spirits rather than just the sugar and dairy. The vodka, coffee liqueur and Baileys provide a boozy kick that cuts through the rich cream, while the chocolate garnish adds a visual hint of “mud” to the drink and lends additional aroma and flavor.

Make a Mudslide after dinner or whenever you have a sweet tooth. Using heavy cream is the best bet here, as 2% milk or skim won’t produce the same results. If you really want to fancify your drink, swap the vodka for your favorite French brandy, and you’ll enjoy an extra dose of flavor.

Our top ten favourite UAE mocktails

If there’s one thing that restaurants in the UAE can be counted on to get right, it is the mocktail. We’ve seen some incredibly exotic varieties that boast ingredients we would never have thought of putting in a drink – including camel milk, dates, goat’s cheese, hot chillies, spices and gold. With the heat rising, we went on the hunt for the tastiest, most refreshing mocktails to help keep cool this summer. Here, in no particular order, are a few of our favourites

If you haven’t checked out Palm Grill at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai yet, the soon-to-be-launched G&J mocktail is as good an excuse as any to do so. Set on the beach with breathtaking views, this breezy restaurant serves up some serious mocktails that take an impressive – almost obsessive – amount of work to prepare. For the G&J, bartenders first clarify grapefruit juice then add water, sugar, lemon salt, sea salt and blend. Then they carbonate it with a cream whipper and two cartridges of CO2. The drink is chilled while the mixologists move on to part two, which involves simmering juniper berries and coriander for 30 minutes, before adding sugar and orange zest. That is cooled and then chilled for four to five hours. It is then strained, lemon juice is added and the whole thing is popped into the freezer. Once frozen, bartenders make a granita (by scratching it up with a fork until it resembles coarse snow), add it to a glass and pour the carbonated grapefruit juice over it. The icy, slushy texture of the drink is rejuvenating and the slightly bitter taste is balanced by the sea salt. It’s sweet, sour and also has a botanical, spice-driven flavour. Considering what goes into this drink, it’s a steal at Dh35 and is set to be added to the menu this week. For a snack to accompany your mocktail try the ceviche mixto or the crispy fried calamari with lemon aioli.

• Dh35 Palm Grill, Ritz-Carlton Dubai

The slim, unassuming Social Room bar adjoining Jason Atherton’s hotly hyped Marina Social restaurant is easy to overlook – but this stand-alone spot is well worth a visit, even without a reservation next door. The Long Peach Spiced Tea bursts with flavour – it is a light, summery drink that infuses a refreshing iced-tea base with an added festive punch: clutters of star anise, cinnamon, clove, cardamom and lemon. Also worth a try is Beet Around the Bush, a heavy, hearty stew combining beetroot and tomato juices, plus Worcestershire sauce and served with a cute jar of Tabasco. The vibe is chic and slick, oozing after-hours affluence, with smart, speedy staff, dim lighting and inoffensive house beats. The bar bites come recommended, too. Try the charmingly rustic homemade pizza or splash out on the decadent Wagyu sliders.

• Dh25 Social Room at Marina Social, InterContinental Dubai Marina

For a taste of something new, try the Jagger Jam Pot at soon-to-open restaurant Tamba in The Hub, a chic new space inside the The Mall at World Trade Center Mall Abu Dhabi. The licenced restaurant is a modern, funky space with an interior that caters to the trendy elite. It looks set to be the next hot spot in the capital when it opens its doors on April 22. The chefs cook, grill, mix and make Indian dishes using techniques from global cuisines (this might be the only Indian restaurant in the world that uses a Japanese robata grill). The mocktails are inspired, with names such as Dragon Flower, the Kolkata Libation and the Telangana. The Jagger Jam Pot is made with guava juice, jaggery syrup, lime juice, masala syrup and cinnamon, served on a pile of ice. It’s light and spicy, fortifying and fiery: the perfect combination for a perfect night out.

• Tamba, The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi

Mocktails are often treated as second-class citizens in the beverage stakes, usually buried on the last pages of a menu. That’s not the case at lavish new Emirati restaurant Seven Sands. From a well-illustrated menu to informed staff, mocktails are celebrated in this alcohol-free venue, which is worth a visit if you want to see the breadth of flavours you can include.I like my mocktails with a bit of a kick – otherwise I feel I am sipping glorified fruit juice. The Black Cinnamon Mojito certainly makes an impression even before the first taste. It looks positively adventurous, with a mini rainforest emerging from the long glass: mint leaves, fat lime wedges and healthy chunks of blackberry. The real star, though, is a cinnamon stick, which gives the whole tropical affair welcome gusto. Ask the waiter to add a cinnamon stick and this mock-mojito is dynamite. Also worth trying is the Blue Azure, as pictured on our cover.

• Dh28 Seven Sands, JBR, Dubai

With stunning views along the corniche, Asia de Cuba occupies prime real estate in the capital. The chic, outdoor space and ­ultra-cool vibe is hard to resist by day or night. While it’s most definitely a place to see and be seen, the restaurant and bar also knows how to deliver when it comes to taste (the generously portioned bento boxes are a must-try lunch item, for example, and they all cost less than Dh95 – try the Cuban. You won’t be disappointed). The food is good, but this is also one place where it is totally acceptable to skip the meal and just pop in for a drink or two. For a cosmopolitan twist on a breezy, summer mocktail, try the Maripossa Rossa. This light, rose-coloured drink is a combination of lime juice, watermelon juice, spiced syrup, hibiscus syrup and an egg white. The ingredients are shaken to perfection over ice, with the egg white leaving a frothy foam on top for visual appeal. Garnished with a skewered raspberry, the drink is upscale and sophisticated – a shining example of all that is right in the often under-appreciated world of mocktails.

• Dh45 Asia de Cuba, Abu Dhabi

I firmly believe that a meal or a drink can taste better or worse depending on the setting in which it is served. There are few places in the capital more serene, more relaxing – or with better views – than the ­beachside-dining restaurant aptly named the Beach House at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island. Pull up a chair on the quaint terrace, admire the view of the stunning turquoise water and order its Berry Berry Mocktail. This brightly coloured beverage contains raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, lime juice, cranberry juice and is topped with a dash of grenadine. They’re all popped into a blender with a load of ice to make a bright, invigorating drink that will keep you cool on the hottest summer days.The flavour and the freshness of the berries shine and this is one mocktail that ranks high on our list. Simple. Pure. Fresh. Don’t miss it.

• Dh33 Beach House, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

This mocktail is Bread Street Kitchen’s signature “driver’s choice” according to staff – and one sip reveals why. It’s divine and tastes like a tropical treat – creamy, smooth and sweet with just a hint of spice. It is a mix of freshly squeezed pineapple juice, black cardamom syrup, a dash of lime juice, coconut milk and manuka honey. It is served in a tall glass over ice with a glug of chilled seltzer water, topped off with a sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns, a sprig of rosemary and a slice of cucumber. The lingering taste is of cardamom, which is a nod to Arabia and gives the mocktail a unique depth. One of the most impressive things about the drink is that all of the fruit juices are squeezed on the spot – not a carton in sight – which makes all the difference.

• Dh35 Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, Atlantis Hotel, Dubai

A Ghaf, a Goat and a Camel

The opening of this luxurious bar is the talk of the town and it is a must-see for tourists and residents alike. In keeping with the 24 carat-gold surroundings, mixologists at Gold on 27 have come up with a prodigious mocktail menu that incorporates gold leaf and gold pearlescence powder. Element 79 aside, another standout creation is A Ghaf, a Goat and a Camel, inspired by an old saying that “death will not visit a man, even at the time of a famine, if he has a Ghaf tree, a goat and a camel”. The main ingredients are cascara milk, bourbon vanilla, white peach nectar and – to make it interesting – goat’s-cheese foam and a beetroot chip garnish. It is a heady mix of sweet and savoury that will convince you drinking cheese is the next big thing. This mocktail is only just eclipsed by the panoramic views of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf from every table. Nibble on the bar’s nori tempura chips and drink in the view. Reservations must be made in advance – mark my words, the gold rush is most definitely on.

• Dh80 Gold on 27, Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai

It’s one big fruit party with this zany offering from Barfly. Amid the tranquil surroundings and subdued lighting of the Venetian Village, Fashion Fresh certainly looks arresting, with its combination of rhubarb jam, mango purée and a mix of red and green apples. The resulting taste is tangy and the apples give it a nice acidic punch. To convince yourself that this sweet offering is somewhat healthy, note that it is garnished with beetroot.

• Dh50 Barfly, Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi

Upscale Lebanese restaurant Byblos Sur Mer digs deep into the country’s history to serve dishes that are authentic and inspired, and they all come with a little something extra – a modern, personal twist, says executive chef Danny Kattar, to make it unique. The restaurant’s list of mocktails is no different. The Lemonade Batrounieh wins big points for taste and visual appeal. It comes from the Batroun region in northern Lebanon. Batroun is one of the oldest cities in the world and there’s a lot to take in while visiting the popular tourist destination. One thing not to miss if you visit the region is the fresh lemonade for which it is renowned. For an authentic taste of Batroun without leaving Abu Dhabi, try the version served at Byblos. Fresh lemons are cut and soaked in crushed ice, rosewater and sugar for 48 hours to infuse all the flavours. The lemons are then squeezed by hand into the infused juice to obtain optimum flavour. It is strained and served in an icy copper tumbler, garnished with imported Turkish delight, mint leaves and a cinnamon stick, which you are supposed to soak in the juice and suck for an extra hit of ­flavour. When it’s 45 degrees outside, your body will thank you for this mocktail.

The Country’s Best Bartenders Will Make Drinks Inspired by Your Favorite Song

On The Record, the new Las Vegas nightclub and speakeasy from scene-making L.A. twin brothers Mark and Jonnie Houston, is a music-inspired spot that wants to evoke the pre-iPod era.

The 11,000-square-foot space begins with a two-story record store. On the Record also has karaoke rooms inspired by the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. As the Houstons walk me through the club, they reveal that they’re using the front end of a chopped-up Rolls-Royce as a DJ booth. Outside on the patio is another DJ booth inside a British double-decker bus.

On The Record, with its vintage posters, album art, and sensor-activated light-up floors, is art-directed like a transporting movie set. The Houstons like to think about how working on this space feels like discovering a hidden catacomb in the Park MGM resort. And if you find something that’s such a blank slate, why not build a time machine?

So, yes, On the Record will have its grand opening on December 28 with the official after-party for Lady Gaga’s Park Theater residency debut, but it’s also a place where you might hear songs by Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, or Talking Heads. There’s even a room where you can pick an album and have a truly one-of-kind cocktail experience built around what’s playing in your headphones.

On the Record’s Vinyl Parlor is a 25-capacity lounge where guests get record players and bluetooth headphones. Select an album or a specific song and you can enjoy a drink inspired by it. So if you pick, say, “Pretty in Pink,” you might get a cocktail with cotton candy or perhaps a pink liqueur.

Different guests could pick the same song and get different drinks. You could select a song twice in one night and end up with two different cocktails if that’s what you’d like.

“You’re capturing a moment for a guest that may never be replicated,” says Craig Schoettler, corporate mixologist at MGM Resorts. “It’s not choreographed. You’ve got a completely bespoke experience.”

Bartenders will make cocktails based on the vibe of the customer and the dynamics of the moment: what time it is, whether it’s the beginning of your night or you’re having a nightcap, whether you’re on a date or with a big group. And, anyway, Schoettler adds, think about how a multi-layered song like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” changes moods and speeds, and how this can make you feel distinctly different ways. Or consider how Jimmy Page’s guitar solos can change from concert to concert. The Vinyl Parlor is a place for riffing.

Beyond these customized drinks, the Vinyl Parlor will also have a menu with a dozen-or-so music-inspired cocktails from some of the country’s most respected bartenders. All of these bartenders-in-residency will take turns making drinks at the Vinyl Parlor in the next year.

Jillian Vose of New York’s Dead Rabbit, for example, will be at On the Record on January 18 to 19. Her contribution to the Vinyl Parlor menu is the Psycho Killer cocktail with Redbreast 12-year-old Irish whiskey, absinthe, campari, Giffard white crème de cacao, and Giffard Banane du Brésil in a Nick & Nora glass.

Erick Castro of San Diego’s Polite Provisions will have his Road to Nowhere with Commerce gin, lemon juice, pineapple juice, yellow chartreuse, honey syrup, orange bitters, and absinthe at the Vinyl Parlor. NoMad’s Leo Robitschek will have the Detox-Retox with blended Scotch, Venezuelan rum, pineapple rum, aged cachaça, coconut water, and angostura bitters.

“You come to Las Vegas and you get the greatest hits of the United States, bartending’s greatest hits,” Schoettler says.

The Vinyl Parlor’s bartenders-in-residency lineup also include New York bar stars like Alex Day and David Kaplan of Death & Co., Jim Meehan of PDT, Pamela Wiznitzer of Henry at the Life Hotel, and Ivy Mix of Brooklyn&aposs Leyenda. California is being represented by mixologists including Kevin Diedrich of San Francisco’s P.C.H., Ryan Fitzgerald of San Francisco’s ABV, Josh Harris of San Francisco’s the Bon Vivants, and Aaron Polsky of L.A.’s Harvard & Stone. Las Vegas’ own Tony Abou-Ganim and Daniel Marohnic will also take a turn behind the bar, as will Simon Ford of Fords Gin.

The Vinyl Parlor’s menu will be a mix of hit drinks and original creations. The plan is to have seasonal cocktail menus. Other bartenders will be announced in the future.

The Houstons grew up in L.A. and fondly remember visiting Tower Records and other record stores to look at album art, buy music, wait in line for concert tickets, and leave with something “tangible.” It’s the kind of shared experience that’s dying, of course, which is something that the brothers think is unfortunate. But one reason that On the Record exists is to remind you that all kinds of music still bring people together. Karaoke, for example, can turn complete strangers into instant friends. And it only helps that the T-Mobile Arena’s concerts are steps from Park MGM.

On the Record will have impromptu live performances. Expect surprise guests, cabaret acts, and some jazz. The Houston brothers plan to offer food on the patio. The idea is to bring in some high-profile chefs that they’ve encountered at music festivals like Coachella. Stay tuned.

On the Record, 3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, 702-730-7777


  1. Verne

    Excellent and timely communication.

  2. Deverell

    It is a special case..

  3. Roderick

    As a specialist, I can help.

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