Thursday, June 2, 2016

Off the Map: Will Pay $35 for Silence

St. George Vert Absinthe -- Sage, Las Vegas, NV

Following Rao's, we saunter (in this case, "sauntering" is accurate, as Bloody Mary and Chianti move at about one-third the pace of Vodka's preferred walking speed) down to the Aria in order to seek out Sage.  As it happens, our intention was to kick off our Vegas trip the night before at Sage's bar, only to discover the place closes at 11:00pm.
What Place in Vegas Closes at 11:00pm?!
For this reason, along with their stated "elegant casual" dress code (what, for Pete's sake, does THAT mean?!), we are mildly hostile when we walk through the door.  And to Sage's great credit, our attitude dissipates in all of two minutes.
Oh, Well, Hello, Friends
For one thing, the place is quiet.  Blissfully quiet.  No ringing slot machines, no shouting crowds, no stumbling drunks (present company notwithstanding).  Just quiet.  And not laden with cigarette smoke.  And nearly empty.

In other words, Sage is just the kind of place we've been looking for.
In Sum, We Want to Be Around as Few People As Possible
We saddle up to the end of the bar and peruse the cocktail menu, which is broken into quadrants so one knows, for instance, how far on the sweet spectrum a certain drink might fall.
This Quadrant System Is So Much Our New Favorite Thing That We Forgot to Take a Picture of It
Not listed on this diagram is the St. George Vert Absinthe, as recommended by Ming Tsai on the FRIGHTFULLY GOOD episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
And What Is This Precious Commodity?
When Vodka asks for this forbidden liquor, the bartender seems to recognize that he has three people who know their way around a bar, and he sets out to put on an absinthe show.
Now You See It...
In what is apparently the "Russian presentation," he pours the liquor into a wide-mouthed glass and proceeds to light the whole thing on fire.
...Now You See It Ablaze
Handing each of us a straw, he instructs us to inhale the smoke before tasting the drink itself, a practice that Vodka is all but certain is going to leave her heaving on the floor in a coughing fit.
Like There Aren't Already Enough Smokers in Vegas?
When we manage to survive the inhalation, we find the absinthe to be... interesting.  It has the decided taste of black licorice, and just when we are becoming confused as to why one would ever make a big deal over this drink, the aftertaste hits, and it becomes delicious.
Of Course, This Is Kind of How Cocktails Work in General
Perhaps the appeal of the absinthe lies mostly in the fact that it is a rarity, but nevertheless, we enjoy it ten-times more than we thought we would, coming to the conclusion that it is worth 4 stars, if only for the show.
Drinks and a Show = Ten Times Better Than Dinner and a Show
In the meantime, Bloody Mary and Chianti have chosen the Honey and Grapefruit drinks, which are almost as artfully done as the absinthe itself.
Pretty in Pink
Take Note of the Lack of Plastic Straw
When it is time for us to order drink #2, Vodka chooses hers (the Sazorac) within seconds, while her compatriots hedge their bets by asking about just about every drink on the menu (eventually deciding on the blueberry habanero and the strawberry).
Vodka's Big Girl Drink
Bloody Mary discerns that this makes the two of them optimizers, while Vodka is a satisfiser, but no matter what the demarcation, we are somehow even more pleased by our second round than we were with the first (presumably the increased alcohol levels in our system have helped this assessment, but still).
The Strawberry Ice Cubes Are a Nice Touch
Indeed, by the time we stumble out of the place, we are so happy with our nights that we decide Sage's rating should be bumped up to 5 stars.
Give Us a Few Drinks and We'll Be Your Best Friends
This is even more impressive when one considers that it is not until the bill arrives that we discover Vodka's chosen absinthe costs $35 (!!!).  Usually, such a steep price tag would send us into a fit, and it speaks to the quality of Sage's bartenders' skills that we barely balk at the price.
We're So Agreeable Once Plied with Liquor
We have barely made it out of Aria before beginning to plot how we can return to Sage, which perhaps proves that sometimes, all it takes is a once forbidden liquor to greatly improve our moods.

Well, that, and a little peace and quiet never hurt anyone either.

Sage's St. George Vert Absinthe: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

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