SUSHISAMBA Introduces The Largest Japanese Whisky List In Las Vegas

I was first told about Japanese whiskey (whisky?) a couple of years ago. It isn’t the easiest booze to find in Las Vegas, but I’ve enjoyed whiskey from Japan and Taiwan (mmmm…Kavalan). The Palazzo is one of my favorite casinos in Las Vegas but I’ve never been to SUSHISAMBA.

The addition of the largest Japanese whisky list in Las Vegas might make change that. I’m a sucker for a sherry cask and the Akashi Single Malt 5 yr Sherry Cask has my attention. You can read the details in the press release below.

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LAS VEGAS, NV… February 7th, 2017 – SUSHISAMBA, the internationally acclaimed restaurant on the Strip that blends Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisines into what Zagat calls “inventive” and “incredibly flavorful” is unveiling the largest Japanese Whisky list in Las Vegas, and one of the largest in America.

“We are constantly seeking things that complement and bring something special to the SUSHISAMBA brand,” said Shimon Bokovza, CEO of Orange Brands Management. “After conquering sake for the past 15 years we are looking forward to expand our offering and introduce Japanese Whisky to our guests in a new and exciting way.”

Thanks to constant refinement and attention to detail, Japanese Whiskies have been in the spotlight in recent years garnering global accolades and gaining in popularity. These delicate tasting Whiskies modeled after the scotch tradition—double distilling malted and/or peated barley before it’s aged in wood barrels – have been shaped by three men commonly referred to as Founding Fathers of Japanese Whisky: Shinjiro Torii of Suntory, Masataka Taketsuru of Nikka and Kiichiro Iwai of Mars.

The SUSHISAMBA list has been curated around these three Founding Fathers and it features 26 Whiskies without age statements all the way up to Whiskies aged 28 years, in all varieties: Single Malt, Pure Malt, Blended Whisky, Blended Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Whisky, Whiskies that have been distilled in the Japanese Alps, or Whiskies that have been distilled in the most northern island of Hokkaido where the distillery is nestled between mountains and the Sea of Japan. The impressive collection also includes some rare award-winning selections such as Akashi 5YR Sherry Cask, the Mars 3 & 25, Nikka Taketsuru 17yr Pure Malt – a line dedicated to the founder of Nikka.

In celebration of the launch, starting February 16, SUSHISAMBA will offer a specially curated menu featuring Japanese Whisky. The menu will showcase the versatility of the Whiskies presented with a variety of SUSHISAMBA dishes from Crispy Tempura Minter Sweet Oysters with Butter Lettuce to Whisky-Soy Marinated Robata Pork Ribs. Each dish will highlight the flavor profiles and nuances of the paired Whisky.

“Japanese Whisky is traditionally paired with chocolate, cheese, and smoked meats,” said SUSHISAMBA Executive Chef Joel Versola. “The real excitement here is that we’re going much wider with our pairings. There is an element of surprise”

The limited edition Whisky menu was specially curated by SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas Executive Chef Joel Versola, Assistant Corporate Sushi Chef John Um and Executive Pastry Chef Michael Outlaw with expert pairings by Hayes Swope and will include:

WAGYU COCKTAIL
This classic riff on an Old Fashioned sees Japanese Whisky treated to a wash of the highest grade wagyu before being stirred with maple and salted caramel. Served over ice.
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CRISPY TEMPURA MINTER SWEET OYSTER WITH BUTTER LETTUCE
osetra caviar, scallion, spicy sweet and sour mignonette

Passion Fruit Whisky Sour
Iwai Japanese Whisky, passion fruit shaken hard with yuzu, egg white. Served ‘up’.
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SMOKED OCEAN TROUT ROE
plantain chip and wasabi crème

Suntory Hakushu 12 yr Single Malt
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ROBATA GRILLED HAMACHI KAMA
sea salt, lime, spicy agave ponzu sauce

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt Whisky
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WHISKY-SOY MARINATED ROBATA PORK RIBS
pickled vegetable, aji panca barbecue sauce

A5 WAGYU ROLL
portobello mushroom, avocado, black sesame and sherry bourbon truffle sauce

Akashi Single Malt 5 yr Sherry Cask
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BRAISED BEEF CHEEKS
saffron red rice, Japanese mushroom, grape seviche, red wine-soy whiskey reduction

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
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CAFÉ BOM BOM
dark roasted coffee custard, chocolate hazelnut crumble, sweet cream ice cream, Japanese whisky foam

Japanese Cherry Manhattan Granita
Iwai Japanese Whisky, Antica Formula Carpano vermouth, cherry bitters, maraschino cherry syrup. Served ‘up.’

Whisky connoisseurs will have a chance to pre-order the entire menu with 48-hour notice on an ongoing basis and for limited time SUSHISAMBA will offer one featured course with a pairing for guests to experience each week until April 10th.

Check Out Las Vegas Epicurean Affair at The Palazzo May 26

PalazzoNight

The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair at The Palazzo was the first foodie event I went to when I moved to Las Vegas. I’ve been to other foodie events but the Epicurean Affair remains one of the most fun nights I’ve had in Las Vegas.

The festival is held around the pools at The Palazzo and offers gourmet bites from a host of chefs and unlimited beverages. It’s a fun night out in Vegas before the temperatures get too hot for crowded events like this.

This year’s Las Vegas Epicurean Affair at The Palazzo takes place on May 26. You can find details on chefs and pricing in the press release below.

The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair returns to The Palazzo® on Thursday, May 26, 2016. The soiree, sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Association (NvRA), features nearly 80 of the finest restaurants and nightclubs from around the city, along with a premier selection of libations.

Guests at the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair will spend the evening poolside at The Palazzo indulging in the best cuisine and cocktails offered from establishments both on and off The Strip.

“The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair is a must-attend event for anyone who wants the opportunity to taste food from the finest chefs, all for a great cause,” said Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food and beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo.

Participants include AquaKnox, B&B Ristorante, B&B Burger & Beer, Carlo’s Bakery, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, db Brasserie, Delmonico Steakhouse, Hong Kong Café, Lagasse’s Stadium, Lavo Italian Restaurant, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro, OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, Public House, SUSHISAMBA, Table 10, and Tao Asian Bistro, to name a few.  

Proceeds from the evening will fund NvRA’s educational and scholarship programs, including ProStart®, a national high school culinary skill and restaurant management program.

“We are thrilled to present this event, which for 33 years has provided Las Vegas the opportunity to help fund the educational dreams of high school students interested in culinary careers,” said NvRA president and CEO Katherine Jacobi. “It is an amazing occasion to enjoy many of the great restaurants that have made Las Vegas a culinary destination.”

The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair is open to the public and will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The Palazzo pool deck with VIP admission at 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at www.palazzo.com or any box office at The Venetian and The Palazzo. Tickets for the event start at $110 plus service charge. Must be 21 years or older.

Photo: Vegas Photo Blog

XS, Hakkasan, Marquee, Tao Top Nightclubs In America

Steve Aoki At Hakkasan Las Vegas top nightclubs in Las Vegas
Steve Aoki At Hakkasan

XS, Hakkasan, Marquee and Tao were the top 4 nightclubs in America in terms of gross revenue in 2014. In fact, 7 of the top 10 grossing nightclubs and bars were in Vegas and 15 of the top 100. Not too shabby.

If you’ve ever wondered where to party in Vegas then here’s a good place to start. Below is a breakdown of all of the Vegas nightclubs and bars on the Top 100 list from Nightclub.com.

1. XS Nightclub, Encore
2. Hakkasan, MGM Grand
3. Marquee Nightclub, Cosmopolitan
4. Tao Nightclub, Venetian
6. Surrender Nightclub, Encore
9. Hyde, Bellagio
10. Lavo, Palazzo
17. Chandelier Bar, Cosmopolitan
18. Tryst Nightclub, Wynn
28. Chateau Nightclub & Rooftop, Paris Las Vegas
48. Ghostbar, Palms
55. Lagasse’s Stadium, Palazzo
66. Bond Bar, Cosmopolitan
67. Vesper Bar, Cosmopolitan
68. The Bourbon Room, Venetian

4 of the top 100 bars and nightclubs in America are at the Cosmopolitan. That’s not surprising because the Cosmo is my favorite bar on the Vegas Strip. Chandelier Bar (floor level) is one of my favorite bars to sip on a drink and hang out in all of Vegas. Last year they added video poker to this beautiful bar so you can get excellent comp drinks while you gamble. WIN!

What is surprising is that Chateau at Paris, Lagasse’s Stadium at Palazzo and The Bourbon Room at Venetian are in this list generating between $5 million and $15 million in 2014. To be honest I didn’t know Chateau was still open, I thought Lagasse’s Stadium was considered a restaurant and had no idea people went to The Bourbon Room en masse.

Live and learn!

No Kimpton Las Vegas Connection For Now

The Venetian Las Vegas
The Venetian

Sad news for Kimpton hotel fans. There won’t be a Kimpton Las Vegas connection…yet. Shortly after being purchased by Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), Kimpton sent out an email that their loyalty program would remain separate from IHG for the time being.

We’ll continue to offer the same great perks and benefits through our Kimpton Karma Rewards program across our 62 Kimpton hotels and any reward nights you’ve racked up stay perfectly intact. For the time being, the Kimpton Karma Rewards program and IHG Rewards Club will continue to run as separate loyalty programs.

IHG has almost 5,000 hotels around the world including The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas (you can see the full list here). Neither hotel fits the Kimpton boutique hotel model but that’s okay in the world of reward travel. Any way to use work travel rewards in Vegas is good. Expect the loyalty clubs to merge some time next year.

My one visit to a Kimpton hotel left me somewhat breathless. I loved it. The staff was fantastic and the hotel was great. I was so moved that I made a blog just for the few days I was at Hotel Monaco in Chicago. Enjoy.

Wynn And Las Vegas Sands Gambling Revenue Per Day Might Surprise You

Las Vegas Sands Gambling Revenue
The Venetian

The casino always has the advantage in gambling so they’re guaranteed to make money as long as they have customers. The amount of money made in a casino probably wouldn’t surprise anyone. When we see gaming revenue it’s usually in bulk form from quarterly reports.

Sure the bulk numbers are impressive but when you see the table game and slot machine revenue from Wynn and Las Vegas Sands (The Venetian and The Palazzobroken down by day per table (updated for clarity) by fool.com you might be surprised.

Las Vegas Sands

  • Table Game Revenue Per Day – $3,737
  • Slot Machine Revenue Per Day – $185

Wynn

  • Table Game Revenue Per Day – $8.130
  • Slot Machine Revenue Per Day – $276

These numbers are impressive but are dwarfed by similar revenue from Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Macau casinos (see full chart here).

Wynn has some of the biggest baccarat games in Las Vegas so the difference in table game revenue between Las Vegas Sands and Wynn doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The difference in slot machine revenue is a bit surprising since Las Vegas Sands has so many more slot machines between their properties.

Whatever the case people are losing a lot of money every day gambling in these casinos. If we do win the casino will just sue for their losses anyway.

Monday Night Football Inspired Menu At Lagasse’s Stadium

Lagasse's Stadium Sportsbook And Restaurant At Palazzo Las Vegas
Lagasse’s Stadium

Every Monday Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo will offer a dish that was inspired by each team playing Monday Night Football. I’m not sure why but I find this fun and amusing.

Lagasse’s Stadium is no longer a sportsbook that I’d visit on an NFL Sunday or when there are big events like March Madness but it’s good for a stand alone football game. Here are my current favorite sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

The food at Lagasse’s Stadium is good and the atmosphere is comfortable with plenty of couch seating available. When it’s not too crazy the service is still good. The menu for each game is below. The chef must think that all Jets fans are Italian.

September 15
Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
Philly Cheese Steak & French Fries ($17)/Breaded Pork Loin Sandwich & French Fries ($14)

September 22
Chicago Bears at New York Jets
Chicago Dog & French Fries ($10)/Meatball Sub & French Fries ($12)

September 29
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Lobster Sliders ($17)/Burnt Ends & BBQ Sauce ($15)

October 6
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins
Fresh Shucked Oysters with Champagne Mignonette ($18)
Grilled Pork Loin on Smoked Ham Black Bean Chili, Green Onion Rice ($20)

October 13
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
Cioppino ($24)/Deep Fried Three Cheese Ravioli & Marinara Sauce ($13)

October 20
Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers
BBQ Brisket Sandwich & French Fries ($15)/Primanti Brothers Italian Style Sandwich & French fries ($14)

October 27
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
Grilled Pork Loin on Bacon & Beer Braised Cabbage with Creole Mustard Sauce ($20)
Chicken Fried Steak Dinner ($16)

November 3
Indianapolis Colts at NY Giants
Breaded Pork Loin Sandwich & French Fries ($14)/ Manhattan Clam Chowder ($7)

November 10
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwich & French Fries ($14)/Philly Cheese Steak Pizza ($19)

November 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
Turkey BLT Primanti Brothers Style Sandwich ($13)
1Ž2 Rack of Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce Glazed Pork Ribs with Corn Bread ($13)

November 24
Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints
Crab Cakes ($15)/ Turkey Po-Boy & Sweet Potato Fries ($16)

December 1
Miami Dolphins at NY Jets
Fish & Shrimp Ceviche ($15)/Shrimp Scampi & Linguini ($24)

December 8
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
Fried Chicken & Waffle ($15)/Bacon Potato & Cheese Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowl ($10)

December 15
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Shrimp & Chicken Gumbo ($10)/Italian Beef Sandwich with Giardiniera & French Fries ($17)

December 22
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Lamb Sirloin Sandwich & French Fries ($16)/Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti ($16)

Best Sportsbooks In Las Vegas

It’s time for my semi-annual update of the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas. There hasn’t been much change since the last time I detailed my favorite Vegas sportsbooks. Here are some things to note with my rankings:

  • I’m mostly concerned with great TV screens and comfortable seating.
  • Since I bet mostly via apps I don’t concern myself too much with finding drink tickets. Besides, they’re usually only good for a well drink, Bud, Miller or Coors. Bleh.
  • I care about access to charging my mobile phone.
  • Drink service is important as is access to grabbing a quick bite.
  • I like a clean environment. I don’t want to itch when I walk in or out of a casino.

1. The Venetian

Venetian Las Vegas Sportsbook
Venetian Sportsbook

Without a doubt there are no better TV screens at any sportsbook in Las Vegas than The Venetian. The combination of crisp color of the TV’s and the dark ceiling and perfect lighting make this almost like going to a movie theater. The seating is the same as every CG Technology (Cantor) sportsbook. The ugly red work desks don’t really matter since you’re watching the games. The chairs are comfortable office chairs. Each betting station has an outlet so you can charge your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Even though the staff isn’t always nice there isn’t a better sportsbook to watch the games.

2. The Mirage

The Mirage Las Vegas Sportsbook
The Mirage Sportsbook

The Mirage was the Mecca of sports betting in the 70’s and 80’s 90’s but had fallen into disrepair until a couple of years ago. The space remains as one of the largest sportsbooks in Vegas but there is now a huge TV screen that takes up the entire wall and plenty of lounge chairs. They even installed some interactive tables that will come in handy for drink service and more (see article on Vegas Chatter). The sportsbook is open to the casino so the lighting isn’t as good as The Venetian but it doesn’t hamper visibility. It’s great to see this classic sportsbook restored to its glory.

3. MGM Grand

MGM Grand Las Vegas Sportsbook
MGM Grand Sportsbook

I’ve come around on this sportsbook. I don’t really like MGM Grand because it’s huge and has way too many kids for Vegas. That said, the sportsbook here is large with many upgraded seats. It’s easy to watch games here since there are so many large screens. With its proximity to TAP sports bar (review on Vegas Chatter) and the Sigma Derby game make it a great location. Pro-Tip don’t use the restroom near the buffet. Instead head toward the Sigma Derby game to relieve yourself without the leftovers from someone’s buffet.

4. Red Rock Resort

Red Rock Resort Las Vegas Sportsbook
Red Rock Sportsbook

This is my local sportsbook so I may be partial. The space is huge with seating for hundreds. The three main screens are massive and change size depending on how many games are on. The downside is that they’re older and could use updating. I’ve been to many of the sportsbooks off the Vegas Strip and no other sportsbook matches the intensity of when there are football games being shown here. Additionally, drink service is quick and they do offer drink tickets.

Notable omissions:

1. Lagasse’s Stadium (The Palazzo)

Lagasse's Stadium Sportsbook And Restaurant At Palazzo Las Vegas
Lagasse’s Stadium

2 years ago Lagasse’s Stadium was the benchmark for a great sportsbook. What’s happened? Poor service (which matters a lot since it’s a restaurant) and the same screens from when they opened. It’s still a good sportsbook when it’s not busy but there are now issues during large events and NFL games. 1) Seating is limited and reservations no longer secure space needed for large parties. 2) Mediocre restaurant service 3) Table minimums around $50 per person for most Sunday’s.

2. Westgate (LVH, Hilton, International) Superbook

LVH SuperBook - Las Vegas Hotel
LVH – Westgate SuperBook

SuperBook has the best linemakers in Las Vegas. There’s no questioning that. Even though they don’t allow smoking in the sportsbook it feels like they do. Sitting at this sportsbook is not fun. The sportsbook smells bad and the air makes me itch. I’ll revisit after they complete the pending renovations. Maybe they’ll add a working air filter and new carpet.

First Impressions Of SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas Carpet
SLS Las Vegas Carpet

My first impression of SLS Las Vegas is positive but not perfect. Nothing is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already detailed some of the flaws from the first few days of business in a separate post.

1. The Setup

The pre-opening moniker SLS Las Vegas used to describe the property was “affordable luxury”. That set up for the hotel to be fancy on a budget. For example there’s no way to make Ikea furniture feel luxurious but it can look nice. With that in mind I went in with limited expectations.

2. Casino Layout

SLS Las Vegas Casino
SLS Las Vegas Casino

I care more about the casino than most of SLS Las Vegas. The floor plan is only 60,000 square feet. If you ever visited Sahara this is 20,000 square feet less. The floor plan is small, which is fine but there are choke points that make it almost impossible to go to certain parts of the casino. The high traffic walkway by table area near the players club and The Griddle is tight and will always be busy. There are similar choke points on the slot floor that will be impossible to walk through because machines are packed so closely. Just scope out areas before sitting down at a table or machine.

Layout aside there are ample 3:2 blackjack games for $5 and $10. Craps has $10 minimums. There is decent video poker and all new slot machines. I dig all of this and wouldn’t mind gambling here. US Poker has a breakdown of most of the games.

Parts of the casino floor seem dark and that can make the tight casino feel almost claustrophobic on busy nights. This feels like a casino I’d visit during the day more than at night.

3. Umami Burger – Sportsbook – Beer Garden

Umami Burger Entrance At SLS Las Vegas
Umami Burger Entrance

This is the part of the casino I was most looking forward to. A sportsbook that serves good burgers and good beer? This might be heaven. It is and it isn’t. This isn’t a sportsbook.

Umami Burger a sports bar/restaurant with a patio and a place to bet on sports. Burger prices are between $12 and $15. Not too bad for the Vegas Strip. Draft beers are around $9-10 and bottles start at $5. There are no drink tickets from William Hill for sports bets as of opening but I think that will change. If you drink/eat at the video poker bar your drinks will be comp’d while you have money in play.

Umami Burger Bar At SLS Las Vegas
Umami Burger Bar

I really like this as a restaurant. Like I said in Vegas Chatter this is a good sports bar/restaurant but it’s not a traditional sportsbook. It should be packed with sports fans for big events but expect to see kids and families in the mix on other days. Even thought it’s not a traditional sportsbook this is my favorite spot at SLS Las Vegas.

Note, you can still sit and watch games without spending any money. However, if there are paying customers for Umami Burger you’ll politely be asked to leave if you’re not spending money.

4. Dining and High Priced Drinks

Continue reading “First Impressions Of SLS Las Vegas”

MGM Resorts > Wynn + Caesars + Venetian + Palazzo

MGM Resorts In Las Vegas
MGM Resorts In Las Vegas

I was reading news last night and found an interesting bit of information about Las Vegas that I never thought about before. MGM Resorts owns as much property in Las Vegas as Las Vegas Sands (Venetian and Palazzo), Wynn (Wynn and Encore) and Caesars Entertainment (10 hotels + The Linq) combined.

  • Las Vegas Sands – 82 acres
  • Wynn – 240 acres
  • Caesars – 414 acres
  • MGM Resorts – 742 acres

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about how much property any of the casino operators in Las Vegas owns. I find the fact that MGM Resorts covers so much space interesting considering Wynn has a golf course and Caesars has a mall with a big ferris wheel that occupies a lot of space.

I think many of us forget that MGM owns a massive amount of land on the north end of the Vegas Strip (City of Rock) that nobody thinks about since it’s still undeveloped.

If nothing else it will provide more useless Las Vegas knowledge that I can wow people with.

There’s a link between land ownership and stock value and Macau. You can read more about how Macau Gaming Crackdown Drives Bettors To Las Vegas.

Photo: HackMyTrip

How Long Until Sheldon Adelson Dumps Cantor Gaming From The Venetian?

Sheldon Adelson Las Vegas Sands
Sheldon Adelson

Last year Sheldon Adelson, big boss at Las Vegas Sands, decided that he would fight online gaming instead of welcoming it into his casino business. He’s so against online gaming that he’s now crusading to stop it.

Adelson is preparing a public campaign to portray online gambling as a danger to children, the poor and others who could be exploited by easy access to Internet betting.

I think it’s a strange use of money to fight against the industry that made Sheldon Adelson billions, but what do I know. Like many other casino operators Las Vegas Sands (The Venetian, The Palazzo, etc.) has been positioning itself as a landlord more than a casino operator. Fighting online gaming simply looks as if it’s another way for Adelson to shake the “stigma” of being seen as just a casino guy.

I find it interesting that Las Vegas Sands keeps Cantor Gaming as the sportsbook operator at The Venetian and The Palazzo. While those are fantastic physical sportsbooks you are encouraged by Cantor Gaming to sign up for a mobile account where you can bet on games anywhere in Nevada.

Since its inception Cantor Gaming has been on the forefront of moving sports betting with cutting edge technology. Ultimately they’d like you to be able to bet on games anywhere that its legal. Additionally you can use a Cantor mobile device to play traditional casino games on property. This isn’t a battery operated game. This is online gambling supported by Las Vegas Sands.

Cantor Gaming sounds like a company Sheldon Adelson should be fighting, not embracing. 

Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo and the traditional sportsbook The Venetian are my two favorite sportsbooks in Vegas. I don’t want to see them go away.

Back to the beginning of this discussion: Until Adelson removes Cantor Gaming from operating on his properties it’s difficult to take his fight against online gaming seriously

Photo: The Week