Nove shakes up cocktail menu with innovative offerings
By Sabrina Chapman
“How do you take your coffee?” mixologist Jack “Sugar” O’Brien asks as he starts to prepare the bar. He continues, “Someone who drinks their coffee with a lot of cream and sweetener will like a different kind of cocktail than someone who drinks their coffee black.” We are on the 51st floor of the Palms at Nove Italiano, a world where swank cuisine plus panoramic vistas equates to diners’ bliss.
Sugar, from upstate New York, has worked with Nove and N9NE Steakhouse for 11 years. “I have a lot of different drink options because we get a wide range of guests from all over the world. There’s everyone from serious diners to girls getting ready to party at the clubs,” he explains while singeing a sprig of rosemary. He drops it into his Autunno Corretto.
“For example, this drink is not for everybody. Do you like Campari (a key ingredient in a Negroni)? If you don’t like that kind of stuff, then, well…” Sugar shrugs. But if the answer is yes, embark on a delicious journey filled with Bacardi OakHeart’s smoky sensations, hints of apricot and a touch of bitter rhubarb sharpness from Rabarbaro Zucca.
For those walking on the sweeter side of the street, Sugar definitely has some sugar to share. His Pomegranita is a frozen cocktail that never sees a blender. Made as a pomegranate granita in Nove’s pastry kitchen, it becomes adults-only when meeting Ketel One Oranje.
If you are fortunate enough to meet him, Sugar might show you the Sugar Shack. Not a shack by normal definition, it is perhaps the best-kept secret in Las Vegas. Sugar Shack is in chef Geno Bernardo’s kitchen and is filled with awards, recipe ideas and infusions aging in apothecary-style bottles. One bottle in particular has a hand-scribed “Momma O’Brien’s” label. The contents smell like tequila and taste likes fresh-baked banana bread.