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CROSS COUNTRY Vegas High Society I nside one of Las Vegas’ premier resorts, Wynn Encore, Society Café attracts retired school teachers, high-rollers wearing flip-flops and celebrity regulars like Holly Madison nearly 24 hours a day. Since the venue is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night party hours, Society Café’s bartenders and waiters must know when to recommend the right drinks at the right time to the right clientele. Making sure they are up for the task is of the highest priority for management. “We have written exams for the waiters and bartenders, as well as routine pre-shift verbal quizzes,” says General Manager John Merrill. “Our staff attends purveyor meetings to learn as much as they can about the spirits we sell.” The Society Café crew has access to detailed spreadsheets that provide copious tasting notes and pairing options for beers and wines. For the first five months it was open, Society Café did not have a bar. Since an interior redesign, the addition of a bar and the hiring of quality bartenders and mixology-minded managers (including Peter Carrillo, who recently left for a management position at the new Cosmopolitan Resort), cocktails represent roughly 20 percent of total sales. But Merrill believes the non-pretentious food menu helps make selling cocktails easier. Chef and partner Kim Canteenwalla developed menus for each time segment that includes lollipop chicken wings, charred rare tuna sliders, chorizo miniature dogs and sloppy Joes. “This menu is food I like to eat,” says Canteenwalla. “I don’t have time to sit down and do the long dinners, wine pairings.” —Fred Minnick General Manager John Merrill oversees the preparation of a cocktail at Society Café. D.C. Political Party O Guests dressed in Prohibition-era costume and partied like it was 1919. n October 28, guests at Washington, D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson House partied like it was 1919. “We wanted to dispel the myth that President Wilson was responsible for enacting Prohibition,” explained John Powell, Curator for the presidential museum. “He actually supported temperance or moderation, and vetoed the Volstead Act which enforced the 18th amendment.” Decked out in their most fetching 1920s attire, more than 125 attendees danced to live ragtime on the piano and sipped libations in the authentically furnished 1915 house. Garrett Peck, author of the book The Prohibition Hangover, assumed the alter ego “Dr. Roman Coke,” diagnosing everything from the vapors and flushed pallor to Facebook addiction. “All of them got a prescription to cure them,” said Peck, which amounted to a rum-based concoction from the event’s sponsor, Rums of Puerto Rico. A rare sneak peak at Wilson’s wine cellar revealed a vast collection of Prohibition-era wines. (When Wilson left office in 1921, Congress passed a special law allowing the enophile to move the wine to his new home.) Before the ball, Phil Greene of The Museum of the American Cocktail gave patron level guests a lesson in shaking up classic cocktails. Proceeds for the event benefited Woodrow Wilson House’s outreach and educational programs. —Kelly A. Magyarics 102 / the tasting panel / december 2010 PHOTO: FRED MINNICK PHOTO: KELLY A. MAGYARICS

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