VooDoo Lounge

Last Friday night, my Vegas vacation began at VooDoo Lounge in the Rio All Suite Resort and Casino.

Because no welcome is warmer than that of a smoking fuschia cocktail…and I’d heard magic could be purchased on the rocks.

I’m not one to argue.

Fifty-one stories up, the lounge is two-floors, and its patio boasts one of the very best views of not only The Strip, but Vegas in its glittery, neon entirety.

The interior is dimmed and brooding, with heavy, dark and somewhat foreboding decor. It’s what you’d imagine a witch doctor’s lair to be. The curving bar area, flanked with lots of black and bronze wrought-iron, has opaque light boxes running across its top, and they constantly change in color, from teal to turquoise to purple to red.

Sitting on this counter, brimming rocks and martini glasses tint with cocktails the same color as the lights. They become potions, and once garnished with leaves, plants, and even dry ice, they’re all effectively witchy.

The small group of bloggers and I were greeted by Eddie Perales, the master mixologist for Caesar’s Palace. Eddie is the creator of all the fun, unique cocktails served at the resort. He is absolutely oozing with charm, enthusiasm, and confidence. He’s got one of those infectious personalities, a smile that says “Hey! I know you!” I’d thumb through Merriam-Webster for the definition of charisma, but that would involve owning a dictionary.

Eddie’s got a world-class reputation to boot. Several times over, he’s been one of the three chosen mixologists to represent the USA in the Cocktail World Cup. I’d really like to get my hands on one of those entry forms. Or judging panel forms, rather.

Eddie has also been entered into the Guinness Book along with that same USA team for most cocktails made in one hour (a number near 250 if my vodka, I mean memory, serves me correctly).

Eddie was flipping, spinning, juggling, and shaking up four different drinks for us. A range of tastes from fruity, to herbal, to savory, and then, my favorite, his ‘cooked cocktails.’

Drawing from what he knows of molecular mixology, Eddie created a cocktail for us that blended caramelized apples, cloves, and other warmly spiced flavors, all of which he lit on fire in a pan. And once the cocktail was poured, he used a tiny blow torch to melt clove-infused sugar crystals onto a fresh basil leaf for garnish and aroma. That was such a fun experience to see and taste, partly because I love the rich flavors that reign in cold weather, and partly because I have a thing for blow torches. I loved that emphasis was placed on not only flavor, but look, and smell too, because really, what could be better than total sensory stimulation?

After Eddie had sufficiently wowed us with his crazy cocktail skills, we were encouraged to create our own unique drinks, and each of our concoctions would then be entered into a little contest judged by the VooDoo Lounge staff. I thought long and hard about what to make and felt slightly intimidated as I roamed the bar area. But this little ‘competition’ was a blast. Getting to experiment with different ingredients, infusions, and fun mix-ins was a treat. I was also able to ask the ‘tenders all about how they go about creating cocktails. I had to inform them that I’m accustomed to much more simplistic creations- essentially just shakers of a spirit with juice. Or shots. But I wanted to keep my dignity in tact for a bit longer.

So, after a few too many “taste tests” with vodka-infused whipped cream, and only one incident involving my shirt, Belvedere, and muddled blueberries, I’ll proudly tell you that my cocktail, which I titled the “Blue Basil,” tied for first place! I started with a base of blueberries, which I muddled in a small rocks glass. To the blueberry paste, I added some black cherry simple syrup, followed by a fresh basil leaf (also muddled a bit to release the flavor), a splash of cranberry juice, an ounce of Belvedere vodka, and then a garnish of fresh blueberries and a dollop of vanilla-infused whipped cream. The whipped cream was actually added after the competition, just a way for me to get my daily dose of sweet cream.

The few hours I spent at VooDoo Lounge were a blast. Cocktail hour, or three, served as the perfect aperitif for the second stop on my Vegas Taste Tour, a seven course dinner at Martorano’s, if anything can prime you for that kind of thing.



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