172 Live Music takes it to the limit
It’s a live music venue, restaurant and bar rock ’n’ rolled into one. 172 Live Music at Rio is a Sunset-Boulevard-rock-n-roll-club-meets-Madison-Avenue-restaurant-and-bar. Drink and dine while live bands, playing everything from rock, funk and indie to Motown, alternative and Latin, get you grooving.
Bar manager Ahmad Butt, along with bartender Chris McDonald, were tasked with handling the cocktail portion of 172. “The owner, Tony Sgro, had an idea about serving upscale cocktails within a rock ’n’ roll atmosphere,” Butt said. “So we focused on a craft cocktail program.” Butt recently put together a whiskey program, too, with nearly 50 labels that includes highlights like Blanton’s bourbon, Yamazaki 12-Year Japanese whisky and Basil Hayden Dark rye.
The signature cocktail menu is whimsical with fun rock song names and top-notch recipes. The Smoke on the Water—a mix of your choice of bourbon, rye or whiskey, bitters and an orange peel and drunken cherry, is a twist on an Old-Fashioned, with a cool presentation that includes the cocktail served inside a clear box with smoke swirling around the glass. Refreshing for the summer months ahead is the Raspberry Beret, a sweet blend of raspberry vodka, fresh raspberries, raspberry gum syrup, Chambord and pineapple, cranberry and lemon juices.
A nod to funk master Bootsy Collins, the Bootsy Collins cocktail is a play on a Tom Collins, mixed with gin, passionfruit syrup, lemon and lime juices, club soda with a Curaçao float and a garnish of star-shaped orange peel cutouts to mimic Booty’s famous sunglasses.
“I’ve brought in the mad-scientist bartenders who’ve always wanted to make some amazing drinks and I’m like, ‘This is your playground to do that’,” said Butt. The beer on tap is all from local breweries, including a tasty shandy made with Banger Brewing’s El Heffe jalapeño hefeweizen.
The venue also brought in a top-rate executive chef, Joe Richardson, who’s also part owner of 172. With nearly two decades of experience in Japanese cuisine, Richardson has put together an elevated menu of sublime Japanese and sushi bites, some with a Latin influence. There’s also a chef’s table near the stage where up to six guests can enjoy an indulgent multicourse, off-the-menu experience. “Elevated food, elevated experience, craft cocktails,” said Richardson. “We wanted to do a really cool music venue along with cool food not just burgers and hot dogs—we wanted something that’s a dining experience, cocktails, with amazing entertainment at the same time.”
Rio, opens at 5 p.m. Wed.-Mon. 702.777.2782