52 Stories - Presented by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
We’re all storytellers. It’s part of human nature. Everyone has a story to tell, and each one is unique simply because of the voice telling it.
52 Stories is the collective voice of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a unique luxury resort and casino located in the heart of the world-famous Strip.
You’d think given its name, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas would be the place to go for a Cosmopolitan cocktail. And while, yes, you can order this rose-hued classic at any of the Strip resort’s numerous bars and lounges, there’s something we’ve discovered through tireless, potentially liver-damaging research: The Cosmopolitan’s upscale watering holes and vanguard restaurants offer myriad intoxicating takes on another timeless cocktail: the Old Fashioned.
“It has the luster of [when] your grandfather drank it,” said The Cosmopolitan Chef Mixologist Mariena Mercer. “It has a glamour behind it. My first Old Fashioned, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I’m a grown-up now.’”
There are debates about the Old Fashioned recipe that will never be settled, like water vs. club soda or muddled fruit vs. whole fruit (still water and no muddling for Mercer), but the immutable facts of the Old Fashioned are simply that it must contain spirits, water, bitters and sugar–except when it doesn’t.
Bonji Old Fashioned | Momofuku
Momofuku is known for its decadent variants on Asian street food, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to lascivious libations. The restaurant’s Bonji Old Fashioned is almost too smooth for its own good–or, really, for the drinker’s own good, because you’ll go through these quickly if you’re not careful. You might be asking yourself “what the heck is bonji anyway?” It’s a cold-pressed liquid seasoning derived from fermented rye grains. Think soy sauce, only way less salty and way more exotic. This helps give the Bonji OF a unique, slightly smoky finish.
Comedy of Errors | The Henry
Handcrafted cocktails may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of The Henry, which is probably better known as a spot to get comfort food favorites any time of day. But, folks, we’re here to let you know that The Henry’s cocktail program is as impressive as its brioche French toast is delicious, and the 24-hour diner’s Comedy of Errors, is (80) proof of that. Mixing bourbon, fig and cinnamon syrup, and Aztec Chocolate Bitters, this update on the Old Fashioned is as strong as it is smooth, with very subtle chocolate notes.
Japanese Old Fashioned | zuma
We’ve talked before at length about zuma’s Japanese whisky program, so it should come as no surprise that this izakaya-style restaurant’s take on the Old Fashioned is a favorite. zuma keeps it simple, just Suntori Toki whisky and a proprietary blend of bitters and simple syrup, chilled by a hand-cut, zuma-stamped ice cube, and garnished with a fire-branded grapefruit peel. As far as our taste buds are concerned, there’s no need for anything more. Except maybe a second helping.
Oaxacan Old Fashioned | Beauty & Essex
Some people might say using anything other than bourbon in an Old Fashioned is blasphemy. To that, we say: You haven’t tried the Oaxacan Old Fashioned at Beauty & Essex. Named for the Mexican state where mezcal flows through the streets (or so we hear), this cocktail mixes a triple-threat of Oaxacan Old Fashioned Sauza 901 Silver Tequila, El Silencio Mezcal, and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur with lemon-thyme, Angostura and chocolate bitters, and a splash of orange oil. It’s surprisingly easy to drink, with a slightly citrus top and smoky overtones—and no sign of the usual tequila burn.
Old Fashioned Beginner’s Luck | Blue Ribbon Brasserie
Blue Ribbon’s Old Fashioned Beginner’s Luck keeps things traditional, combining rye whiskey, bitters and cherry cordial with a single, large ice cube for a smooth, classic flavor that pairs well with the restaurant’s eclectic menu—although the New York import mixes things up by serving the drink in a tall glass. That said, its cocktail menu cousin, the Country Lawyer, is slightly more interesting, stirring its bourbon with Benedictine & rhubarb amaro. We recommend trying both, mainly because we’re bad at making decisions.
Original Sin | The Chandelier
The “original” in Original Sin is the operative word. It’s more of a new fashioned, the Jaden Smith to the Old Fashioned’s once-radical-now-bankable-star Will—but with a less confounding Twitter presence. Start with an hourglass-shaped tumbler and perch in the narrow part a Chinese-spiced sphere of frozen simple syrup. Decant from your sidecar a blend of whiskeys, including cinnamon and pecan, and let the magic happen. Sweet and spicy, the Original Sin is the kind of cocktail that demands to be sipped by a fire on an autumn night—or while surrounded by The Chandelier’s shimmering crystal curtains. Best of all, as the ice sphere melts, more simple syrup is released into the drink. Meaning this little darling turns into its own dessert. It’s alchemy of the finest kind.
R.R.L. Old Fashioned | Rose. Rabbit. Lie.
When you’re settling in for a psychoreactive freakout like OPIUM, you need the steady hand of the familiar to lean on. The R.R.L. Old Fashioned is maybe the most traditional offering on this list, with Four Roses bourbon, demerara syrup and Angostura bitters serving as the guides on the well-trod path of your taste buds’ memory. But there’s just enough of a twist in Laird’s Applejack–a gorgeous spirit with a long history and a bare hint of apple–to keep things spicy.
Whiskey Business | The Chandelier
The Italians have a saying: “Throw a bunch of herbs in a bottle and see what happens.” At least we assume that’s a saying. If nothing else, it explains the proliferation of delicious amari all over globe. Turns out it’s a fantastic addition to an Old Fashioned, too. This variant uses Amaro di Angostura and Amaro Meletti to bring the bitter, while The Cosmopolitan’s own select barrel of Knob Creek holds down bourbon duty. Sweetened with Old Time Rock & Roll Syrup that infuses coco chai tea into simple syrup, you’ve got yourself a robust tipple with the broad, almost vegetable notes for which amari are famous.
Summer in Las Vegas. A time when the cares of winter melt away and the pollen of spring finally blows out of town. A season when clothes come off piece by piece. A postseason when hockey is improbably, and delightfully, still being played (go, Knights, go!). A climate where music is in the air and comedy is in the heart—specifically, in the air around and the heart of The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan, where some of your favorite musicians and comedians will be appearing over the next three months.
The official greatest Song of the Summer is, of course, Van Halen’s 1979 harmonic monster “Beautiful Girls,” and we’ll brook no dissent on the matter. But if you wanted to encapsulate the essence of summer, you could do worse than the SoCal mélange of punk, reggae, rock and rap popularized by Sublime and carried over by their protégés, Slightly Stoopid. It’s the same sound you hear when you crack your third beer of a sunny afternoon you’ve spent floating in the pool. It’s like the very idea of San Diego picked up a bass and rolled off five wicked bars.
Closer To The Sun - Slightly Stoopid (ft. Karl Denson) (Live at Roberto's TRI Studios) - YouTube
For four seasons, Inside Amy Schumer stood as the Comedy Central heir apparent to Chappelle’s Show, which is a pretty good position to be in—at least, if you want to blast off into superstardom. Schumer went from sketch- and stand-up comedy critical darling to starring in 2015’s Golden Globe-nominated Trainwreck (which she also wrote)and this year’s I Feel Pretty, alongside turns on Broadway and on The New York Times Best Seller list for her memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. She’s no stranger to Las Vegas, having done residencies up and down the Strip, but she kicks off the first of a four-show exclusive engagement at The Chelsea on Aug. 10 (she’ll be back again in November).
Amy Schumer - Facebook Is Weird - Comedy Central Presents - YouTube
If you didn’t get your reggae fix in June with Slightly Stoopid, you’ve got a second chance at Caribbean rhythms and guitar chords played on the upstroke with Santa Barbara, California’s Rebelution. The guys from the band met in college, bonded over reggae and formed a band that’s releasing its seventh, sun-splashed studio album, Free Rein, on June 15. Seven albums? We were lucky if we could get it together enough with our college roommates to come up with pizza on a Friday night. Apparently we should have listened to more Bob Marley and less of The Smiths.
So High - Live at The Wiltern - Rebelution - YouTube
There aren’t many bona fide geniuses left working in rock music these days. Even fewer who stormed the music world armed only with old blues riffs and a Montgomery Ward guitar. In fact, there’s just the one: Jack White. When he’s not running his own record store, or re-issuing rare old vinyl, or curating long-forgotten geegaws and whatsits (seriously, check out the 1947 Voice-o-Graph in the Nashville Third Man Records where you can press your own vinyl), or playing in roughly 63 various bands, White is busy recording his own award-winning solo projects. He debuted his third album, Boarding House Reach, in March – his most ambitious, Bowie-esque project to date. His fans seem to dig it, because tickets for the Thursday show are already sold out.
If funked-out reggae is the atmosphere of summer days, then Jack Johnson’s breezy, island-flecked surfer-singer-songwriter jams are the sound of summer nights. Unless you’re listening to the Grease soundtrack, but Olivia Newton-John is a little too on the nose, don’t you think? If you’re in your thirties, there’s a good chance that even if Johnson wasn’t your favorite singer back in college, then you dated someone for whom he was. In which case, you almost certainly tried to learn “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” on the guitar to impress them. Even if it didn’t work out, we can’t say we blame you for trying.
Sept. 16 is Mexican Independence Day (no, it’s not Cinco de Mayo), which has the seriously cool origin in 1810 of a Catholic priest ringing a bell to signal the call to arms, known as the Grito de Dolores. Which, come to think of it, would be a fantastic name for a Mexican punk band. Kicking off a weekend of musica en español is actor and Puerto Rican pop singer Chayanne – who was once told he was too young to be in Menudo, something we didn’t know was even possible. He also has a video where he dresses like toy soldier-era Michael Jackson, a bored king, one of the Jabbawockeez and, we’re pretty sure, Falco.
It’s 4 a.m. and Chef Costas Spiliadis is on the phone with suppliers, ensuring the day’s fresh fish will arrive in Las Vegas on time from Portugal and Greece. It’s not a direct flight. The fish—all line caught—go through London first before making their way to America, where they will eventually end up at Estiatorio Milos at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“He’s so hands on,” says General Manager Zhaklin Lappas as she surveys the lunchtime crowd on this Tuesday afternoon. “He knows everything about every fish. He inspects every single piece.”
Keeping the fish market stocked is as much about meeting demand as it is about freshness and quality, because more and more, Lappas and her team are fielding questions about the Mediterranean diet.
“Everyone is becoming more conscious of what they put in their bodies—heart-healthy foods, fruits, vegetables,” she says. “I feel like Mediterranean is what guests are looking for.”
The Mediterranean diet, for the uninitiated, refers to the dining traditions of Greece, Italy, and other parts of southern Europe. Lauded as one of the healthiest diets on the planet, it is an eating approach embraced by Chef Spiliadis, a native of Patras, near the ancient Greek village of Olympia.
Instead of emphasizing meats, heavy sauces, and saturated fats, Chef Spiliadis has prepared a menu at Estiatorio Milos that focuses on making food flavorful through simple additions.
“Rather than adding creams and sauces, you can add a dash of sea salt and olive oil,” Lappas explains. “Just like that, you’re having the best tomato salad you’ve ever had in your life.
“The Mediterranean diet has been around forever and it’s tried and true,” she adds, admitting that the word “diet” can sometimes throw people off, because it implies a fad. Rather, she says, the emphasis should be on the word “Mediterranean.”
“Immediately when I hear the word ‘diet,’ I associate it with the word ‘restriction,’” says Las Vegas-based performance coach Arvin Anderson. “There’s a reason why there are so many health benefits to the Mediterranean approach, and why people in that area of the world are in better health. It’s because they are getting the right food into their bodies in the right amount and consistency.”
Anderson, whose MIDY Methods fitness practice highlights eating behavior among the four “pillars” of health—alongside mindset, activity, and lifestyle—says traditional diets have a start and end. The Mediterranean diet is more about taking a new approach and paying attention to the signals your body sends when it likes the foods you’re eating.
In a city where you can indulge in every delicacy and some restaurants proudly display their disdain for restraint, you’d think Las Vegas would be a diet-buster, the place where your “cheat day” becomes a “cheat vacation.”
But in truth, whether you’re dining on the patio at Estiatorio Milos or plotting your weekly grocery list, there are simple things you can do to enjoy a meal like you would on the coast of Greece:
Stock your kitchen with the essentials.
Anderson’s list of heart-healthy, nutrient-rich recommendations includes: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, potatoes, whole grains, fish and other seafood.
“Mediterranean meals have a little bit of poultry and red meat very rarely,” he says.
Organic is the way to go.
When shopping at the grocery store, stay on the outer perimeters if you want to avoid processed foods and saturated fats.
“I would imagine in the Mediterranean they wouldn’t have a lot of processed foods in their markets, even in the middle aisles,” Anderson says.
Embrace olive oil.
As opposed to butter or margarine, olive oil – especially extra virgin olive oil – is a much healthier alternative. It can also be used as a mixture for dressings, or a glaze for fish before you put it in the oven.
Know your healthy fats.
“A healthy fat is just a natural source of fat,” Anderson explains. “It’s very minimally processed.”
Omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in fish, are among the healthiest fats, and are also good for your heart.
“The three pillars of a diet are your carbs, your proteins, and your fats,” Anderson says. “And the Mediterranean diet – or rather the Mediterranean approach to eating – includes all three in a very healthy way.”
With its luxe hotels, top-tier entertainment and unmatched dining options, Las Vegas is a fabulous destination unto itself (like we had to remind you), but its unique desert location also makes the city an excellent starting point for unforgettable day trips. From hidden havens on the edge of town to unexpected vitality in Death Valley, we’ve assembled a collection of highway adventures you can complete in less than a day round-trip.
Be bolder in Boulder City
During Hoover Dam’s construction in the 1930s, quaint Boulder City was founded to house many of its many workers, and eight decades later, it’s still thriving—and still just as quaint. To explore this Americana gem, drive about 30 miles southeast on U.S. 93, and when you pass under the Art Deco “Historic Downtown” sign, you’ll know you’ve arrived. The road becomes Nevada Way, and is decorated with iconic mid-century modern signs from old motels. Once in the heart of Old Town, amble along sidewalks lined by mom ‘n’ pop eateries like the surfing-themed Coffee Cup, which you might have spotted on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Numerous boutiques abound, selling Southwestern handicrafts, quirky antiques, and touristic tchotchkes. It’s an entirely Instagram-worthy experience, complete with animatronic fortune tellers, funky sculptures, and a “flying saucer” for kooky photo opps.
Photo by Sydney Martinez / TravelNevada
Venture along Lake Mead
Hoover Dam is astounding, but that’s where most Las Vegas visitors cap off their trips to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. That’s a shame, because there’s so much more to see and do around this sprawling wonder that’s just about an hour from The Strip. Northshore Road, which winds along the immense reservoir, takes roadtrippers through a jagged land of rocky vistas. One of the first mesmerizing sites is Bowl of Fire in the distance, a vast region of orange and red sandstone cliffs. Grab takeout from your favorite Vegas restaurant before you hit the road, and unpack it at Redstone Picnic Area, which is studded with vermillion-hued, eroded hoodoos. Moving further on, keep a lookout for palm tree-ringed Rogers Spring, a classic desert oasis scene. Before you hop on Interstate 15 back to the city, visit the Lost City Museum to learn about Ancestral Puebloans who lived along the now-submerged Virgin River centuries ago.
Photo by Sydney Martinez / TravelNevada
Go ghost (town) hunting in Rhyolite
Head northwest on Route 95 just over two hours to Rhyolite, where you’ll find a picturesque ghost town near Death Valley National Park’s border. The abandoned burg is famed for its modern-era cement buildings punctuating the desolate terrain. One highlight is the looming front of a three-story bank made with mining money, and another is a house comprised of thousands of beer and liquor bottles. Also on the road to Rhyolite, take an artsy turn into Goldwell Open Air Museum, where epic sculptures abound, ranging from spooky to whimsical. If all this eye-popping architecture and art stimulates your appetite, swing by the Happy Burro bar in nearby Beatty for a scratch bowl of chili con carne and a cold beverage.
Photo by Laura Rose Robb / TravelNevada
See Death Valley come to life
To take in a landscape that’s both gorgeous and eerie, journey to Death Valley Junction, a crossroads about 90 miles west of Las Vegas. Take Blue Diamond Road off Las Vegas Boulevard through forested Mountain Springs Pass, eventually making your way to the Amargosa Valley. After arriving at the junction, ramble about the unmistakable Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, which hosts ballet and pantomime performances on weekends in an ornately painted performance hall. The charming onsite Amargosa Cafe serves farm-to-table breakfasts and lunches Friday through Monday. And if you’re into nature, stop by Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, with its gurgling pools of crystal-clear water, the craggy Funeral Mountains looming in the distance, and the entrance to Death Valley just beyond.
Photo by Sydney Martinez / TravelNevada
Live the frontier lifestyle at Bonnie Springs Ranch
Long before Las Vegas was illuminated by glittering neon lights, it was a Wild West crossroads and ranching outpost. But just because you were born within the last 100 years doesn’t mean you can’t relive those cowboy days. Head to Bonnie Springs Ranch in beautiful Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located just west of town off Blue Diamond Road. Ride a mini-locomotive into this frontier throwback featuring a recreated mining town with vintage shops and horse rides. The attraction is also known for its farcical send-ups of melodramas and gunslinger showdowns. Sure, everything is a bit on the hokey side, but it’s good, dusty fun. There’s a restaurant for rustic vittles like a bison burger and BBQ ribs, plus a bar and saloon to wet your whistle. For even more history, visit adjacent Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Its grassy spaces and ranch house filled with antiques was once owned by none other than Howard Hughes.
Photo by Sydney Martinez / TravelNevada
Get your kicks on Route 66
If you’re a fan of retro-themed travel, head down to Route 66, the ultimate classic road trip byway. To reach the “Mother Road,” head south on Interstate 15, where you’ll enter the vast Mojave National Preserve just across the California border via the Nipton Road exit. From there, drive to the park headquarters at Kelso, and explore the renovated Mission-style train station. Then it’s on further south past lofty granite peaks and shifting sand dunes to Route 66 itself near Amboy and the much-photographed Roy’s Motel and Cafe with its unmistakable Googie-style sign. Order a bottle of chilled root beer and meander about the old motel area, which now serves as an unusual sort of art gallery. If all the driving has you feeling restless, take a quick hike around nearby Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark—a stark black extinct volcano—before hopping back in the car to Las Vegas.
Photo by Helen Gorden / via Flickr
No matter which of these day trips you choose to try, it’s always important to keep your car’s gas tank filled—stations are few and far between once you leave the Las Vegas metro area. And this is a desert, so carry at least a gallon of drinking water per person. Sunblock, sunglasses, hats, dressing in layers, and snacks are essential, too. And maybe a portable charger for your phone—you know you’re going to be posting pics and vids the whole time.
As winter turns to spring, Las Vegas blooms into absolute perfection, with a combination of mild temperatures and a full slate of events. Like, oh, say, bands and comedians that have been absolute hit factories across the decades. You want veteran rockers that penned songs you’ve been bumping since you were knee-high? We got that. You want alternative and indie sensations responsible for some of the biggest songs in modern rock? We got that. You’d rather have bona fide cultural sensation comics? How does Adam Sandler strike you? You want the circus? We … we do not have the circus. Did you want the circus? We know a guy. Just give us the head’s up.
The street The Doobie Brothers are takin’ it to is, specifically, Las Vegas Boulevard. Original members Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston pace these ‘70s stalwarts through a catalog of hits a mile deep, from the twinkly prog of “Jesus Is Just Alright” to the blue-eyed soul of “What a Fool Believes” to … well, however you’d like to categorize “Black Water.” (Roots rock by way of AOR? Is that a thing?) We love a band that tells you what it wants. “Listen to the Music?” You got it, Doobs.
Is it supposed to be a guy named Portugal? Is it referring to the coolest guy in Portugal? Does anyone in Lisbon have strong opinions on this? Either way, these soaring alt-rockers will make you feel the full force of frontman John Baldwin Gourley’s falsetto. If you’ve walked by a TV in the past two years, you’ve heard megahit “Feel it Still” across a slew of commercials (or maybe you caught the polka-flavored Weird Al remix), but don’t sleep on “Live in the Moment” or “Modern Jesus.”
Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still ("Weird Al" Yankovic Remix) - YouTube
How British is indie-electronic outfit alt-J? They had, until recently, a guitar player named “Gwil.” That’s slightly more British than buying used Red Dwarf VHS tapes from a Picadilly street vendor, but not quite as British as getting attacked by a pigeon in Trafalgar Square during tea. Get ready to gently rock, riding the hypnotic wave of “Breezeblocks,” “Left Hand Free” and “Every Other Freckle,” with a mix of far-off guitar drone and folk-inspired rhythms and acoustic work.
If you were an 11- to 19-year-old in 1993, you were in the sweet spot that you probably spent your school days quoting Adam Sandler’s They’re All Gonna Laugh at You! chapter and verse. So you already know how great of a solo performer he can be armed with just a guitar and a penchant for the absurd and the wildly overwrought. If you just know him from his SNL and movie days (including a phenomenal turn in Punch Drunk Love), well, you’re in for a treat, seeing a seasoned pro operating with absolute creative freedom.
Adam Sandler Sings "My Old Chair" - CONAN on TBS - YouTube
Dane Cook’s first three albums sold roughly in the neighborhood of eleventy billion copies, and he rocketed into the comedy stratosphere, becoming the second comic to sell out Madison Square Garden, after Andrew Dice Clay. A physical, high-energy storyteller, Cook once spent seven hours on stage in one shot (talk about value for your comedy dollar). As an actor, he has appeared in Good Luck Chuck, Employee of the Month and one of the funniest, most painfully awkward bits in five seasons of Louie.
Dane Cook: Troublemaker - Text Arguments - Uncensored - YouTube
Machine Dazzle empties a box of industrial-strength ear plugs onto a table and begins unwrapping them one by one.
It’s quiet in the hallways behind the stage adjacent to Rose. Rabbit. Lie. that will soon host The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ new resident show, Opium by Spiegelworld. The plugs aren’t for the performers’ ears, though—they’re for their costumes.
“I get inspired by anything, sometimes from the hardware store,” Dazzle says. “Sometimes I get inspired just by garbage.”
Dazzle steps away from the table to clear space from a couch, just as a performer leaves a nearby dressing room, maneuvering cardboard boxes on her way to the stage. The workshop where Dazzle is creating Opium’s costumes is a bit of a mess right now, with yards of fabric, wardrobe racks, and half-dressed mannequins scattered throughout.
Coffee in hand, Dazzle takes a seat, letting out a sigh and a laugh. He’s dressed in a gray, one-piece mechanic’s jumpsuit, or what he calls his “work uniform.”
“I wear jumpsuits every day. It’s like a dress,” he says. “You put on one thing and that’s it. I don’t care if it gets destroyed, it does everything I need it to. I think it’s like a piece of performance art on its own.”
It’s also a far cry from Dazzle’s wardrobe when he made his debut alongside Opium’s cast in February, descending from an escalator at The Cosmopolitan wearing an ornate dress adorned in silverware. The space-age costume—and the tin foil parkas worn by the performers–hinted at what’s to come when the curtain drops on Opium.
At the time, Dazzle explained that he–like all of the show’s cast members–had answered the call of the universe to join Opium host Harry M. Howie at The Cosmopolitan. They had followed the signs in the stars, for a purpose they’d yet fully define.
All Roads Lead Back to Las Vegas
Dazzle is no stranger to Las Vegas, having visited the city for business and pleasure since the early 1990s.
A native of Philadelphia, Dazzle moved frequently as a child, from Pennsylvania to Texas to Idaho and eventually settling in Colorado, where he attended high school and college (the latter at the University of Colorado Boulder).
Following graduation, Dazzle bought a one-way to ticket to New York City to pursue his artistic dreams. A “self-taught fashion designer,” he found success despite taking a different route than most costume designers.
“I went to school, but I went for fine arts,” he says. “I didn’t study costume and I didn’t study fashion. I’ve never been to a sewing class. I break a lot of sewing machines.
“I’m an artist before I’m a costume designer. I think like an artist but I act like a costume designer, so that’s what makes me different.”
Dazzle’s work with performance artist/playwright Taylor Mac brought him to national prominence, with the pair’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, heralded by a New York Times critic as “one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Yet, while he’s loved living in New York, Dazzle felt drawn back to the desert by the same forces that compelled Howie and the Opium cast to The Cosmopolitan.
“When I found out [Opium] was going to be here, I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ because it’s such a great hotel,” says Dazzle. “It just kind of felt like a leap of faith, and I said, ‘We’ll arrive and see what happens.’”
The Secrets of Space Theater
Opium is so shrouded in mystery, even Dazzle is hesitant to speak about his work beyond generalities, preferring to leave all surprises for the audiences that will fill the seats of the Opium Theatre when the show opens for previews on March 13.
He can reveal that it’s a comedy-based show, adhering perfectly to his instincts as a “humor-based conceptual artist.” Opium, he adds, also fits Howie’s famous declaration that it would someday be the “first show performed on Mars.”
“Off the bat, I was thinking spacy, like alien,” Dazzle says of his costume ideas.
He pauses, unsure if he’s revealed too much: “I just have a very unconventional way of making costumes. They’re wacky, just because of what they are.”
With opening night looming ever closer, Dazzle is working 12-to-16-hour days piecing together his “wacky” creations, earplugs included. Always at work, either with his hands or in his head, Dazzle will continue to play and perfect things through opening night and beyond, until he doesn’t see the need anymore.
“It’s all a very big collaboration, because you put things on people and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he says. “Sometimes a mistake is exactly what you want. It ends up being funnier than what you originally thought.”
Craving a steaming bowl of savory carbs? We can’t blame you. Thankfully, Las Vegas is no slouch when it comes to restaurants serving Asian-style noodle dishes. Slow-roasted bone broths. Delectable cuts of meat. Vibrant, farm-fresh vegetables. They’re all here in the mix. Get those chopsticks and soup spoons ready as we share some of our favorite Las Vegas ramen joints and noodle dens.
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Chinatown in Las Vegas
It might come as a surprise to Las Vegas visitors, but there’s an impressive Chinatown just west of The Strip. While it’s a bit more spread out and suburban than other similar North American districts, Las Vegas’ Chinatown stands tall among culinary destinations specializing in Asian fare.
One of the most notable—and animated— options in Las Vegas’ Chinatown is Chubby Cattle, where a conveyor belt delivers vegetables, proteins and noodles (made from unexpected ingredients like taro root) to diners, who then immerse the goodies in mini-cauldrons of roiling broth seasoned to taste.
For Japanese-style ramen, famed Monta draws crowds of noodle-lovers to Chinatown for its delectable pork broth. Recently opened Ramen Hashi specializes in chicken-based consommé. Marugame Monzo dishes up thicker, soba-style pasta, filling bowls with hand-pulled threads and tempura-style crispy additions like soft-poached eggs and shrimp. Gourmet-level mainland Chinese noodle dishes are found at Niu-Gu, including a zippy lemon-pepper beef bowl. And if your palate can handle the heat, try Miàn Sichuan Noodle, which spices things up with chili-laden noodle dishes, including a delicious cold selection.
Taste the Rainbow(l)
South of Chinatown along Rainbow Boulevard is a growing thoroughfare of Asian restaurants with a noodle focus. Watch cooks pull fresh-made wheat dough into skeins of pasta at The Noodle Man. With quick flicks of a knife, the strands fly into a boiling cauldron of water before joining ingredients like beef brisket and black fungus. Further down the road, YuXiang features a mash-up of Korean and Northern Chinese recipes, including samson gan jjajang, which arrives as thick wheat noodles with a side of pork and vegetables in a black bean sauce.
If “umami” is your culinary password, then Momofuku in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is your home base. Even though this David Chang-helmed restaurant is known for its over-the-top, large-format creations, the menu is highlighted by several noodle dishes, including black truffle ramen with egg yolk, chickpea miso and chives, and a ginger scallion bowl with pickled shiitake mushrooms, cucumber and wakame (a seaweed kiss of the sea). There’s even a chilled spicy noodle bowl featuring savory sausage, Thai basil and candied cashews for a touch of sweetness.
Just a short stroll from Momofuku inside The Cosmopolitan is China Poblano, where Chef José Andrés gives Szechuan dan dan noodles a spicy Central American kick with pequin chilies and aromatic cilantro, accompanied by piquant black Chinkiang rice vinegar. Other noodle-rific selections include the playfully named Swallow a Cloud, a rich soup featuring house-made shrimp and pork wontons mingling with egg noodles and bok choy. Pair any of these dishes with the China Poblano Cocktail Experience, a flight of four handcrafted cocktails inspired by Chinese and Mexican cultures.
Las Vegas has become a hotspot for Vietnamese dining, especially at two sister restaurants: District One Kitchen & Bar in Chinatown and Le Phở in Downtown. District One serves an eye-popping, deluxe phở bowl featuring traditional rice noodles and a whole Maine lobster in its shell; Le Phở specializes in five spice-braised duck with egg noodles. Thai pad combos reach gourmet heights at both Chinatown’s Chada Thai and Downtown’s Le Thai.
How’s that polar vortex working for you? Enjoying digging yourself out of your igloo just to risk hitting black ice while you commute to work? No? Well, might we suggest you hop on a plane and head to Las Vegas this winter (forecast this weekend: 67 degrees and sunny), not just to escape the frozen tundra (or a sleepy burg), but also to check out a concert or comedy show at our favorite resort on The Strip, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas?
We’ve lost a lot of musical legends the last few years, but one who thankfully still walks among us is Willie Nelson. At 84, Nelson is still churning out top-charting albums and touring the United States, and he’s bringing his family along with him—including his eerily sound-alike son, Lukas, who made Rolling Stone’s 2017 Hot List. So not only do you get to witness a legend live in an intimate setting, but you also get to be there at the start of what is sure to be an epic career of its own. If you move quickly, there might still be a few tickets available for one of these two shows.
Willie Nelson & Lukas Nelson - Just Breathe (Live at Farm Aid 2013) - YouTube
Brothers, sisters, we hope you got new dancing shoes as a holiday gift, because you’re going to need them when Austin, Texas’ grooving-est indie rock export, Spoon, brings its “Hot Thoughts” to The Chelsea for one night. Formed by singer-guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno in the mid-1990s, Spoon has remained a fixture in popular culture for more than two decades, thanks to such chart-toppers as “Don’t You Evah,” “Got Nuffin” and “Do You,” as well as radio staples “I Turn My Camera On” and “The Way We Get By” (both of which seemed to turn up in every TV show and movie in the mid-2000s).
Hey, did you miss the first two shows of Adam Sandler’s residency at The Cosmopolitan? If so, then you missed not only a set of earnestly goofy jokes and songs from the headlining comedy superstar, but also surprise appearances from some of Sandler’s fellow Saturday Night Live alumni, including Norm MacDonald and David Spade. We can’t say for sure who will show up for Sandler’s next outing at The Chelsea, but wouldn’t your funny bone really like to find out?
There are few bands who so effortlessly exude “cool” the way that Queens of the Stone Age do. Anchored by the hypnotic croon (and looming presence) of lead singer/songwriter Josh Homme, QOTSA has been playing driving, dirge-y, and, yes, catchy stoner rock for more than 20 years, picking up fans and collaborators such as Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons along the way. Word is, tickets are going fast for this show, so act now if you want to rock out with the Queens to alt-rock classics like “No One Knows,” “Go With The Flow” and “Little Sister.”
Queens Of The Stone Age - The Way You Used To Do - YouTube
Hey, remember when we told you last fall how one of our favorite trumpet-rocking bands, CAKE, was coming to The Cosmopolitan, bringing undeniably head-bouncing alternative rock gems like “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” “Never There” and “The Distance” live to The Chelsea stage? We even threw in a “Cake by the Ocean” joke? Well, all of that still stands for this long-awaited, rescheduled CAKE concert on Feb. 17. Trumpet solos and all.
If you’re a fan of Oasis (and really, aside from Blur, who isn’t?), then you’ll be pleased to know that Noel Gallagher has been leading his new band through his old band’s material in their live shows, which means on March 9 you can expect to hear an old favorite like “Don’t Look Back In Anger” or “Wonderwall.” But our advice? Come for the Oasis hits, stay for the new High Flying Birds jams—they’re just as groovy, and even more adventurous. Notably finicky Pitchfork loved Gallagher’s most recent album, Who Built The Moon?, calling it “the most ambitious of his solo releases, internalizing the heyday of late ’90s Britpop while sounding both urgent and absurd to mostly great effect.” Urgent and absurd—perfect music for 2018.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - The Masterplan (live) - YouTube
Is it just us, or does it seem like there’s a law on the books banning the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Las Vegas unless Flogging Molly shows up at The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool that week to perform such Guinness-toasting Irish rock anthems as “Drunken Lullabies,” “If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” and “What’s Left of the Flag?” OK, it is probably just us, but let’s face it: a St. Patrick’s Day weekend without a Flogging Molly concert just isn’t the same.
Flogging Molly - Devil’s Dance Floor- Live at Hollywood Palladium - YouTube
As head mixologist for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Mariena Mercer is known for creating inspired libations that have made the center-Strip resort’s bars and lounges must-visit destinations among travelers and locals alike. From the taste bud-morphing Verbena to the misty magic of the Fire-Breathing Dragon, Mercer’s creations are as pleasing to the eyes as they are to the palate.
It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to celebrating the holidays, Mercer’s talents particularly shine. She crafted an entire menu of specialty cocktails and mocktails for The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan, which includes such concoctions as Egg Noggy Nog (a steamed house-made eggnog spiked with Old Forester bourbon) and Campfire Delight (which is basically s’mores in a glass). But one thing you won’t find on any menu at the resort is Mercer’s bubbly-infused Poinsettia Punch recipe, which uses one of Mercer’s signature ingredients, Oloroso sherry.
“Punches are great,” Mercer says, “because as a hostess, I won’t get stuck behind the bar all night making cocktails for people. I’m free to enjoy the party as well.”
Mercer’s take on this modern classic is, not surprisingly, all about presentation. At home, she likes to serve the holiday punch in one of the antique bowls found on her travels, but she admits “any bowl will work.” Although Mercer says the punch recipe is “super simple,” she adds a “wow factor” with an icy fruit ring that is both functional and fabulous.
“This recipe is super simple, freeing up some of your kitchen time to let your Martha Stewart out with some holiday décor or canapés,” says Mercer. “I used to spend hours in the kitchen making complex syrups and purees, but these days I prefer beautiful, simple things at home.”
Mariena Mercer’s Poinsettia Punch
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
4 oz Oloroso sherry
6 oz Grand Marnier
2 bottles Prosecco or Champagne
1 cup fresh cranberries
6 blood oranges, sliced for garnish
12 sprigs of rosemary
6 dashes of Angostura bitters
8 star anise
In a large bowl, stir together the cranberry and orange juices, sherry, prosecco and Grand Marnier. Line a Bundt cake pan with some of the blood orange slices, cranberries, and rosemary. Add crushed ice and pack it in. Place in a freezer until frozen through and then add water to fill in. The fruit and herbs should gather at the top. Dip in warm water to remove. The ice ring should come out in a beautiful, single wreath. Place in punch bowl and pour punch on top. Float in the remaining blood orange slices, cranberries, and rosemary sprigs.
Whether you’re heading to Las Vegas to light it up for the weekend or traveling to Duluth to feast on your aunt’s famous turducken, the Scout Motto always applies: Be prepared. We know your smartphone is your ride-or-die, and it’s probably already loaded with the basics you need to get around: maps, ridesharing, crowdsourced reviews. But before you step into that Uber and head for the airport or train station, consider levelling up your handheld savvy. From protecting your flight to providing entertainment during all those long hours at the airport, there are a multitude of travel apps that can help make your journeys that much smoother.
This app was created by world traveler and tech smarty Anil Polat, who spends a lot of time in airports. Say goodbye to expensive hourly internet connection fees and hello to free Wi-Fi, thanks to an enormous database of global airports and their lounge passwords that Polat has developed. Download the app for $1.99 and then treat yourself to free Wi-Fi whenever you’re heading to the airport. The app works offline, but be sure to sign on in Wi-Fi so it can update (i.e. load it up before you exit your house), and then you’ve got the latest codes for use almost anywhere in the world. Just keep in mind the app’s password database is dependent on its users to stay current, so your results may vary. Download:Apple, Android
Maintain your chill
Does flying make you anxious? Are you trying to find some zen while traveling? Enter Headspace. This groovy app delivers guided meditation and mindfulness training. The free version offers a 10-day beginners course that guides you through how to meditate and breathe. If you’re ready to fork over the cash for a membership (starting at $7.99 monthly), Headspace offers add-on packs designed to work with you to overcome stress, anxiety and fear, as well as boost compassion, sharpen focus, and improve health and wellness. The app even offers S.O.S. meditations for times when you need to breathe/relax/fight an anxiety attack. Download:Apple, Android
No one likes dealing with flight delays. Cancellations are even worse. Protect yourself from the annoyance of having to rebook your ticket if it’s canceled by using Freebird. This isn’t technically an app, but it’s a service you use on your phone, so we’re counting it because of the protection it provides. Simply head to the website to register your flight up to two days before your departure. Then, if your flight is delayed by four or more hours or (gasp) is canceled, it helps you to rebook your ticket … for free. Protect a flight for $19 one-way or $34 roundtrip. Should you need to use it, you’ll get a text message with a link to rebook your flight.
Don’t let traveling interfere with binge-watching Stranger Things. You probably already use the heck out of Netflix, but did you know the app now lets you download select TV shows and movies to your phone without needing an internet connection to watch them (hello, long-haul flights)? Just make sure you have an active Netflix streaming account, with the latest version of the app running on your device. Downloading is available for iPhones, iPads and iPods running at least iOS 9.0, Android mobile devices running 4.42 or later, or tablets or computers with Windows 10 Version 1607 or later. Download:Apple, Android
Guides by Lonely Planet
Let’s face it: Nobody is lugging a massive guidebook around when travelling these days. But relying on your smartphone for trip planning is only as good as your data connection. Save yourself anxiety (or data overage charges) by downloading curated city guides by Lonely Planet ahead of your trip. These downloadable guidebooks are available for all the big cities (and even little ones you’ve likely never heard of), and each comes complete with a map that’s available offline. Find the top picks for where to explore, eat, sleep, shop, drink, and more, with handy reviews and details for each listing. The best part? Lonely Planet guides are free to download. Download:Apple, Android
Bring a translator
There are few situations more frustrating than being stuck in a city where you’re unable to communicate because of language barriers. Download Google Translate and make ordering a cup of coffee in Mandarin a real thing. Type in what you want to say or simply speak in your native language, select the language you need the words translated to, and bam—the app provides both on-screen translation and audio pronunciation. There’s even a camera interface that magically transforms words on-screen in live view or from a saved photo—perfect for translating signs, posters and menus. Download:Apple, Android
Make it rain … pesos
Take the guesswork out of currency exchange with XE Currency. This free app (a paid version is available for just $1.99) monitors and converts every currency in the world, including precious metals. Follow currencies before your trip to see how your dollar is holding up and set up alerts for when the rates rise or drop. Updated in real-time, XE Currency always displays the latest exchange rate—and because rates are stored on your device, the app works even if you’re not connected to the internet. Download:Apple, Android