The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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A t the sleek, granite bar of Nobu Las Vegas in Caesars Palace, Bar Manager Dave Ponte muddles citrus-scented yuzu juice, halved strawberries and aromatic sprigs of Thai basil in a tall glass. Fresh ingredients are business as usual at Nobu Las Vegas's most recent restaurant and hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard. Ponte explains the restaurant's founder, internationally renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, created an eclectic Japanese-Peruvian menu, complete with exotic dishes such as black cod with miso and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño. "His dishes are very fresh and very appealing to the eye. They're like pieces of art," Ponte says. "So I want to complement that." For Nobu's bold dishes, Ponte creates lavorful pairings with Hokusetsu saké, Nobu soju and signature cocktails created by Nobu employees. "We like to keep it sexy," Ponte shares. To further infuse intrigue into guests' dining experiences, he plays with beverages' visual presentation and even exchanges traditional stemware for varied styles. "When you look across the restaurant, you don't see everybody has the same exact glass on their table," Ponte says. "You might have the curved glass with the Peruvian Caipirinha [made with Macchu Pisco, shiso, muscovado brown sugar, lime and Cock 'n Bull ginger beer], but you could look over there and say, 'Oh, I wonder what's in that glass. I want to try that one next.'" As guests indulge in Nobu restaurant's exclusive experience, staff members also like to "keep it sexy and keep it new." Bartenders participate in bi-monthly cocktail competitions to include their creations on Nobu menus, and staff members are given opportunities to progress. Ponte discovered this irsthand as he rose from his position as busser to bartender to bar manager over the span of a decade with Nobu Las Vegas. Now as Bar Manager for the latest Nobu location, he draws upon Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's example. "He's a super humble guy, and he calls everyone here family," Ponte says. "He inspires me to create better, and to do better, every day and to always stay ahead of the curve." Cracked Basil Dave Ponte won a city-wide competition for best original cocktail with Grand Marnier. His Cracked Basil is now featured in Nobu Las Vegas menus at Hard Rock and Caesars Palace. ◗ 1 oz. Grand Marnier ◗ 1 oz. Nobu the Soju ◗ ¼ oz. yuzu juice ◗ ¼ oz. simple syrup ◗ 3 Thai basil leaves ◗ 1½ fresh strawberries ◗ ¼ oz. egg white ◗ cracked pink peppercorn ◗ Muddle strawberries, two Thai basil leaves, yuzu juice and simple syrup. Add Nobu the Soju, Grand Marnier, egg white and ice. Shake well. Strain and pour into glass. Garnish with one Thai basil leaf and cracked pink peppercorn. may 2013 / the tasting panel / 1 17

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