The Head Bitches in Charge, Becca and Cori Sue, were invited to Las Vegas for Bon Appetit magazine’s 9th annual Vegas Uncork’d event. The Bitches were lucky enough to rub elbows with some of the greatest chefs in the world, try some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, and enjoy all that the city has to offer. This interview is part of the Uncork’d series, featuring stories and interviews from the weekend. Thanks for having us, Bon Appetit!
When you travel to London, you might spend an evening on the London Eye. It’s that enormous ferris wheel right on the Thames, and it provides the most spectacular views of my favorite city on earth.
But when you go to Vegas, you typically spend your evenings in a gorgeous bar or in the casinos, enjoying the cocktails and people-watching. Or, you can now combine those cocktails with that enormous ferris wheel. Only in Vegas.
It’s true; Las Vegas now has its own wheel, called Linq’s High Roller. And when Cori Sue and I were invited to take a spin and check out the views, Caesar’s Palace was kind enough to wheel a bar cart into our pod, accompanied by Eddie Perales and team.
Eddie, turns out, is the head mixologist at Le Central Bar in Paris Las Vegas. The newly renovated space is now the gem of the old hotel, and Eddie holds court there, creating perhaps the most innovative cocktails in Sin City.
But Eddie has the chops to pull this off—he’s in the Guinness Book of Records for his cocktailing, and he is a winner of the Cocktail World Cup. And whether or not those are legit credentials, he did whip up some of the best cocktails we had during our visit.
We chatted him up over his fabulous drinks; here’s what he had to say.
What brought you to Las Vegas?
We have a great cocktail culture in Vegas overall, downtown and on the strip, of course. I’ve been with Caesar’s Entertainment since 2003 when they recruited me to be one of their flare bartender trainers. I worked up through the ranks and I’ve worked at every Caesar’s Entertainment resort in that time doing cocktail ideations, programming, and really fun events.
You’ve earned a lot of accolades thanks to your work, no?
I represented the United States in the Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand in 2007 and, six months later, made the Guinness Book of World Records for speed. I won four nationals and five competitions here in Las Vegas. I’m a big competitor and love to compete, but I’m taking a step back to give back to the United States Bartenders Guild and people within our community. Now it’s my turn to give back and do the training for those guys.
What is your philosophy for making a brunch cocktail menu?
Bring the kitchen into the bar. What that means is utilizing components that you would find every day, not only in bigger kitchens, but in your kitchens at home. It’s about understanding sugars and making your own syrups and elixirs, being creative with fresh herbs, and how to use seasonal fruits. It’s also about utilizing pastry components and bacon and how you comprise and pair those kinds of elements into a cocktail.
What are the components of the perfect Bloody Mary?
First off, I would transition from vodka and use bourbon to add a little bit more of a flavor profile. I would use some bacon fat to add a little love to that. I would use different seasonings and different things you could pull from the spice rack to enhance the cocktail program. Sometimes less is more. Maybe it would just be simple fresh tomato juice with salt and pepper. The rim could be comprised of some really fun spices and that’s it. There are two things you want to do when you shake a cocktail and you always want to do them: shake it hard and shake it with a smile.
What do you think is next in brunch cocktails?
We should take a step back and utilize one the oldest components in history for beverages, which is ice. So freezing cranberry, orange juice or pomegranate juice and really utilizing fun ways to enhance the program. If you wanted, you could take an elixir or bitters and add it to the ice cube and freeze it so it melts into your cocktail so you have actually have profiles as you’re consuming the drink.
What is your favorite brunch cocktail?
I actually will just have an ice cold beer. Maybe a little bit of tomato juice on the side. I go light because right now, I’m just tasting flavor profiles and, when I’m doing that, I like to be fresh-minded.
What do you think about Hair of the Dog? Do you think it’s real?
I do and I think, at some point, folks need that. You need to medicate yourself and start back over again, depending on what kind of freedom you have for the rest day.