ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 5 - September

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 87 of 163

TASTE Tequila is made from the blue agave plant's core, which is first roasted. BELOW: Sean DiCicco travels to Mexico to hand-pick tequila for Mandalay Bay. Down to the Barrel CASINO SPIRITS EXECUTIVES HEAD TO MEXICO TO PICK THEIR OWN TEQUILA (BARREL, THAT IS). BY CATHERINE DE ORIO A procession of horses, with a tequilacarrying mule as the caboose, returns to Casa Herradura, at the Hacienda San José del Refugio, in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. The riders are not skilled jimadors finishing a day of harvesting in the fields, but rather a group of Vegas casino executives there to select a barrel of Herradura tequila for their guests. The brand takes trips with representatives from Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood, Harrah's, Aria and Mandalay Bay, whose vice president of food and beverage, Sean DiCicco, thinks that it's important to go the extra distance and offer something special that's tailored to his clientele. "Herradura is a selective, high-quality product, from growing the agave to bottling," he says. The company has been using the same process for more than 140 years: Blue agave plants are hand-harvested, roasted in clay ovens, and naturally fermented using wild airborne yeasts. Then the tequila is distilled and aged for up to 11 months, produc- ing a reposado with notes of dried fruit, sweet brown spice, cooked agave, and vanilla. While in Jalisco, DiCicco meets with the master distiller and blender to discuss the flavor profile he's seeking, and barrels of tequila whose aging is nearly finished are selected for sampling before DiCicco chooses one to call Mandalay Bay's own. "I look for something that stands out but that isn't too off the charts that it can't be blended," he says. "It has to be versatile: Vanilla on the finish rounds out the spirit, and if something has high alcohol content, I like a finish with a soothing, buttery butterscotch note." Before the process is complete, the tequila is aged in a new toasted-oak barrel for an additional month to bring out its desired flavors. "The double barrel gives it a less hot feeling in the mouth and a smooth finish," DiCicco says. Bottles bearing a custom label indicating the barrel and bottle number can be found at all of Mandalay Bay's lounges and bars and most of its restaurants. V It's important to go the extra distance and offer something tailored to the resort's clientele. 84 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 084-086_V_SC_Taste_Tequila/DiningDecor_Sept13.indd 84 TEQUILA RISING It's not a fiesta without tequila, and this season's new high-end offerings make it the chicest of choices. Once upon a time, a big night out involved lots of ritualistic shooters with lime and salt, followed by a hazy, regret-filled morning, making tequila an old friend from whom we were happy to part after college. Just as our tastes have matured beyond upside-down margaritas, tequila has followed suit. Vegas has seen an incredible increase in premium tequila, the complex, distinctive spirit that lends itself to sipping, the way the best tequilas are meant to be enjoyed. The hot spots Hakkasan, Hyde Bellagio, and 1 Oak all stock George Clooney and Rande Gerber's ultrapremium small-batch Casamigos tequila. Employing a unique process involving a proprietary yeast blend, slow agave roasting (72 hours), and extraslow fermentation (80 hours, twice the industry standard), they produce a blanco and a reposado that are deliciously smooth, with no bite. The 35-day French oak barrel aging of Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver tequila, meanwhile, sets it apart from others in its category, delivering a crisp, agave-forward sipper with vanilla hints and a dry finish. It is just one of 90 types of tequila available at Tacos & Tequila in Luxor. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF MANDALAY BAY (OVEN, DICICCO) LEFT: continued on page 86 Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario tequila is served in a traditional flute at Javier's. 8/6/13 11:15 AM

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