Celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month At Yardbird Las Vegas

Bourbon Flight At Yardbird Las Vegas
Bourbon Flight

I finally made it to Yardbird at The Venetian last night! This has been on top of my to-do list for a while. The restaurant has been receiving rave reviews from people who I trust since it first opened. I just haven’t been to The Venetian much this year.

I used to visit The Venetian a couple times a week when I first moved to Las Vegas but not so much in the past year. It used to be home to fast free wifi on the Vegas Strip but now just about every casino has wifi so there isn’t a need to visit as often.

I learned a couple of weeks ago that Yardbird would be celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month with a special flight of bourbon. That this was the excuse I needed to finally visit Yardbird. The tasting is $25 for four different one-ounce pours. The flight consists of the following:

  • Bacon Bourbon – Wild Turkey 81
  • Honey orange – Woodford Reserve
  • Apple Spice – Knob Creek Small Batch
  • Salted Maple – Maker’s Mark

The bourbons are listed in the order served in the photo above from right to left. I’m by no means a connoisseur of bourbon so this won’t be a spot on opinion. Here are my thoughts on each:

Bacon Bourbon – Wild Turkey 81 – Bacon booze (wine, whiskey, bourbon) doesn’t actually taste like bacon. There’s usually a smokiness to the booze. The bourbon is light and not overpowered by any flavor. This was very easy to drink. It was a good way to ease into the more flavorful bourbons.

Honey orange – Woodford Reserve – This was aromatically insane. There is a heavy orange scent to this bourbon. Once I moved past the aroma, this was my favorite of the batch. This is easy to drink and it felt and tasted like bourbon with more than a hint of orange.

Apple Spice – Knob Creek Small Batch – My thoughts going in were that this sounds like something for sick people. This was my least favorite because I don’t really like apple spice. However, my opinion changed when I added the shot to the leftover ice from my Old Fashioned. The ice lessened the apple spice attack and it was nice.

Salted Maple – Maker’s Mark – This was so damn sweet that I didn’t know what to make of it at first. However, the maple was interesting and I came around to enjoy it later in the evening. It took a while before realizing that my mouth needed to drink this without apple, orange or any other flavor to appreciate it.

Overall, I enjoyed the tasting. The $25 tasting price is in line with the prices you’d expect to pay at The Venetian. I’ll get into the meal that accompanied the meal later but I want to get my thoughts on the bourbon tasting since it’s only available for the month.

Old Fashioned at Yardbird Las Vegas
Old Fashioned

Since I was tasting bourbon I wanted to extend that to one of their signature cocktails. Looking at the bar menus I settled on an old reliable. The Old Fashioned is always a safe bet and it was delicious. It was so good that I had one for dessert too.

The term handcrafted is thrown around often nowadays but it’s legitimate at Yardbird. They carve the ice at the bar every day. They make many of the ingredients for their drinks fresh at the restaurant. This is what you expect when you’re paying top of the market prices for cocktails.

G2E is just a few weeks away and I expect to see another visit or two in my future. The booze at Yardbird was good, but the food was great. Stay tuned.

New Cosmopolitan Sports Book Set To Open By Super Bowl

Cosmopolitan Sports Book
Cosmopolitan Sports Book Construction. (Pic VitalVegas.com)

Big news for sports fans on the Vegas Strip. The new Cosmopolitan sports book will open in February just in time for the Super Bowl.

In December, the Cosmopolitan celebrated its 5 year anniversary with a slew of news. Even though the property is finally turning a profit they aren’t resting on their laurels.

There are major changes at the Cosmopolitan (see complete details at Front Desk Tip). I wouldn’t call the changes a facelift or an overhaul but there is a lot happening at the Cosmopolitan.

The most exciting change to the casino will take place with their sports book.

The least profitable slot machines in the southeast corner of the property have been removed and a brand new sports book is under construction. The 8,000 square foot sports book will include 23 video poker machines which McBeath tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal should make more money than the 120 slot machines that once occupied the space.

The new sports book will be more than twice the size as the current CG Technology sports book on the second floor. CG will continue to operate the sports book at the Cosmopolitan.

Everything I’ve heard is that this sports book will be similar to a smaller version of The Venetian sports book. It’s easy to think that between the bar with video poker and typically great CG Technology TV screens.

security breach by Vital Vegas last week showed that there’s still a lot of work to do. I can’t wait to see the finished product. I expect to have more information on the sports book soon.

Pic: VitalVegas.com

UPDATE: 1/28

It looks like Cosmopolitan is backing off the Super Bowl opening. Here are more details from a recent email.

  • NEW CASINO RACE & SPORTS BOOK

    OPENING FEBRUARY 2016, LEVEL 1, EASTSIDE

    A new Race & Sports Book will open in early February 2016 on the casino floor. It will be more than double the size of our existing sports book and will offer a significantly upgraded experience, featuring:

  • State of the art LED video walls for both sports and race
  • Dozens of hi-definition television screens
  • The latest in mobile wagering technology and a combination of lounge style seating areas
  • Traditional betting stations and VIP areas where guests can view their own 90-inch high-definition television.
  • The race and sports bar will anchor the space, featuring video poker and multiple hi-definition televisions showing sporting events.

 

Additionally, a new sports themed table games area will be immediately adjacent to the new book, also featuring hi-definition televisions and direct views of the main LED walls.

Bourbon Heritage Month

Bourbon
Bourbon

I’ve only been dabbling in the brown boozes for a couple of years now (see how I found which brown booze I enjoy most on Vegas Chatter). I enjoy a nice scotch every now and again and bourbon less often. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it but my mouth usually craves a different taste (beer).

That said, if there’s an entire month dedicated to the heritage of bourbon (September) maybe I have an excuse to have a drink a glass of bourbon or two. Adding to the possibility that I may make specific plans just grab a drink of bourbon is that one of my favorite steakhouses in Vegas, Delmonico (The Venetian), has some special dishes and events featuring bourbon in September.

In fact Emeril Lagasse is celebrating the month at all of his Las Vegas restaurants which include Delmonico Steakhouse, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House and Table 10. Here are the specifics for Delmonico:

Culinary Director Sean Roe cooked up three special bourbon-infused dishes at Delmonico Steakhouse to complement Kang’s cocktails, available daily for dinner throughout the month.

Guests can choose entree of mushroom-crusted filet medallions with smoked apple bacon, caramelized onion bourbon sauce and parmesan cheese ($50); a side of roasted baby sweet potatoes with bourbon pecan glaze ($12); and finish with a sweet dessert of bourbon sticky toffee cake with vanilla chantilly cream ($11).

Kang will host a bourbon tasting event on Monday, Sept. 21 from 6-8 p.m., featuring bourbon specials, tray passed appetizers and live blues music from Dick Earl Ericksen. With one of the largest whisky selections in the U.S., Delmonico’s renowned bar program includes more than 700 varieties from eight different countries. 

Writing this blog post before 8am feels like I’m playing a cruel joke on myself. I’m off to get some more coffee to ease the craving.

Photo: Fork and Plate

A Look At The Renovated Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

I’ve been posting pictures and updates on the renovation of the Red Rock sports book as it’s been happening here and on twitter, instagram and facebook. Unlike some other recent sports book renovations this was mainly a television screen upgrade. Boy is this an upgrade.

Even at 20% brightness the new screens at the Red Rock sports book are the brightest and clearest screens you’ll find in any Vegas sports book.

The comparison I’ve heard most from the pictures I’ve posted are that they look like The Venetian sports book screens. The Venetian is generally lauded as having the best screens in Las Vegas. I’ll go out on a limb and say The Venetian screens are the second best now and here’s why.

The new 2.5mm NanoSlim LED displays are the largest of their kind in North America. They replace the rear projection systems that were installed when Red Rock Resort opened. The 2.5mm space between pixels offers almost twice the clarity of the old 4mm pixel spacing.

All three of the 17′ x 31.5′ screen use 4K Ultra HD technology and can each be configured to display screens in 45 different ways. That number can and will increase.

Here’s a look at what a typical afternoon at the Red Rock sports book will look like. Notice how the lines are displayed since it’s a slow day.

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

When seasons change and there’s a need to show lines for football, baseball, basketball and hockey the configurations can be changed quickly so you don’t have to wait for rotating boards only showing limited lines. This will be great in the winter.

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

When there are nights with standalone football games the screens can be changed from showing multiple games to one big 17 x 31 foot TV. You could probably see this display from the Vegas Strip if it were outside. Check out that middle screen.

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

The next photo is kind of blurry on purpose (not really but it makes my point). The scroll at the bottom of the screens is huge and easy to read while the fonts used for the lines are smaller and a little more difficult to read unless you have good vision or are close to the screens. The size isn’t bad but it’s something that stood out to me.

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

As I mentioned earlier this was only a viewing upgrade. The seat configuration remains the same with 75% of the seats being chairs and desks while 25% are comfy lounge chairs. I’d prefer the seating to be the other way but the Red Rock sports book still gets a lot of people betting on the ponies.

Red Rock Sports Book
Red Rock Sports Book

Summary

The new screens at the Red Rock sports book are the best you’ll find in Las Vegas. I live right down the street so and my opinion for this sports book may have a little bias.

While The Venetian may offer the best screens on the Vegas Strip but I can’t vouch for it being the best sports book since you probably won’t get a seat during football season unless you’re set up with a CG Technology account and bet with them while you’re watching games.

For comparison 98% of the seating at the Red Rock sports book is open to anyone who visits. The 2% is saved for VIP guests and higher tier Boarding Pass players club members.

The Mirage sports book is great but the clarity of their screens can’t be compared with Red Rock. When Westgate unveils their new sports book screens I’m told they will be similar but not as good as the Red Rock setup.

I’ve been recommending the Red Rock sports book to people even when the screens needed updating. Now that the screens have been upgraded I think the Red Rock sports book is easily one of the best sports books in Vegas. Easily.

The Venetian Anchor Bar NFL Specials

Anchor Bar at The Venetian
Anchor Bar at The Venetian

Earlier this summer Anchor Bar, “Home of the Original Buffalo Wings, opened a Vegas location at the Grand Canal Shops food court at The Venetian.

The wings aren’t the cheapest in Vegas but they’re fairly priced and probably the best I’ve had in Vegas. The menu is huge and offers a wide variety of Buffalo’d foods. (You can see the full review on Vegas Chatter while it’s still live.)

When I visited Anchor Bar in June I didn’t notice that they had 2 TV’s to the left side of the bar because they were turned off. You can see a picture of the screens here. During NFL Sunday’s these TV’s will be showing NFL games. One TV will always be dedicated to the home town Buffalo Bills.

Anchor Bar will offering specials if you want to eat some wings with a side of Bills football. I don’t like missing NFL action so I’d probably wait for the 1pm games since there are usually only 3 or 4 games at once. Here are the specials available on NFL Sunday:

Anchor Bar is offering a limited number of special “Hot Seat” packages during the game of your choice – from kickoff to the last play – for $100:
·         Guaranteed front row Anchor Bar seat for the game of your choice (there are less than 10 seats)
·         Double Wing Combo
·         Unlimited Genesee or PBR
·         20% all other purchases during the game
·         A free wing sauce pack during Buffalo Bills game if they win!

Football lovers can also enjoy a special game day menu with –
·         Mini Beef on Weck, Wings & a Beer $16
·         Single Wing Combo & a 16 oz. Beer $19
·         Two Commemorative Flask 64oz Beers & Double Wing Combo $90
·         Single Wing Combo & 40oz. Cocktail $30
·         Double Wing Combo & Two 16oz Beers $36
·         Four Quarters & Four Shots $20
·         Bucket of Four 24oz Beers (PBR or Genesee) $25
·         Wing Head Hat Special – Commemorative Wing Head hat filled with 20 Wings $45

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.

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.

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