Back in December, a few days before their opening on New Year’s Eve, I shared news about the latest S Bar in the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Unable to attend that first night Eddie and I rectified our loss by visiting them two weeks later. From the outside in, we were excited with just how the place looked. Once seated we had our chance to sample as much as we could – the atmosphere, art, drinks, food and music – and by the end of our time there we were left thinking, this is not the bar for selfies and to be seen, at least not for us. This is the bar of 2022, where all of your senses will be gratified in luxury. Let me share why. (And for those of you that just want to skip reading, photos and videos can be found here and here.)
I took a lot of photos of the S Bar before we even entered, it’s that grand looking. When you exit the parking garage elevators onto the Casino floor it is one of the first things you see on your immediate left.
Gold glimmers, lights from the interior flicker to catch your eye, and the hostess waits for you to find your way to her. Once inside the big sparkly bar will definitely catch your eye, in the center of the room and a fantastic focal point. But then, after you are seated on one of several cozy areas, your eyes will be drawn to the framed black and white photographs all around you, and the two from the owner Sam Nazarian’s private contemporary art collection that he removed from his home to share with his guests: a large Marilyn Monroe and a second piece of art, a seated naked woman. Both will make you catch your breath.
There were two main sitting areas, and a third private VIP lounge tucked away and conveniently located near one side of the bar – giving the impression that you would have private access to the bar. This is intentional.
Near the front entrance is an area for musicians. On this night we benefitted from a talented electric violinist that played along to current popular favorites. She was amazing.
Then at this point, before you have really taken it all in, one of the many attentive members of the service staff will greet you, offer you several types of water, offer the drink and food menus.
We usually order our favorite drinks at bars. But when it’s a new bar, with what we understood to be very experienced barmen, we asked our server which cocktails she thought we might like based on our tastes.
Neither of us like sweet drinks, and she made great suggestions. Eddie went for “The Second Rodeo” which was described on the menu as Green Chile Vodka, Spiced Hibiscus, Lime and Rose Kombucha. Eddie has never had any of these ingredients, and I was proud of him for trying something out of the box. And one of the reasons the drink was suggested was because it came on fire. After blowing out the flame Eddie had his taste and declared it spicy but not too spicy, and enjoyed all of the unique flavors.
Another recommendation was for me, to try the “Palm Reader” which was crafted with Bourbon, Cacao Rum, Licor de Elote, Palo Santo and orange bitters – and if you watch the video you can see that our bartender also served the drink on the rock with a little bit of white chocolate shavings! After we lingered over these for an hour…we did try our usual Sazerac (for Eddie) and an Old Fashioned (for me) and they were just as yum-worthy.
A note on the bar itself: all top notch equipment including cut crystal mixing glasses, copper jiggers and strainers, clear ice (they even have clear tall Tom Collins ice), and house-made simple syrup and bitters.
We started with the Charcuterie board and probably could’ve stopped there as it was more than enough for two for dinner with all kinds of meats, cheeses, nuts, jellies and toasted Crostini. But we didn’t. The “Tarte Flambee” flatbread that came next just slayed us, it was described as a loaded potato on flatbread and it didn’t disappoint as it was loaded with onion, bacon, Crème Fraîche, Fromage Blanc and chives! We finished with a beautiful Tuna Poke tower with large wonton chips.
Friends we were happily surprised to discover sitting at the bar had the Deviled Eggs, Wagyu Sliders and were about to order the Charcuterie board and Lobster Mac when we left!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.