Friends With Benefits: Anna Howell of Aureole at Mandalay Bay
One of the coolest features of Aureole at Mandalay Bay, and the only one like it in town, is the restaurant’s wine tower and wine angels. Stretching seven levels and holding more than 10,000 bottles, “it’s whimsical, it’s fun, it’s a great spectacle,” says general manager Anna Howell. The wine angels fly through the tower fetching bottles of wine that diners order, and Howell herself has even strapped into the harness and ascended the tower. “So, so much fun,” she says.
It’s that sense of adventure, and other traits such as not taking herself too seriously, making sure she and her staff have fun, being honest and direct with the staff that Howell brings to her position as general manager. “I love that this job gives me the freedom to be myself, express myself, and that gives me confidence in my position,” says the UNLV grad. Howell has the goods to back up that confidence, too. Before she joined Aureole several months ago, she worked at Bellagio, helping to manage several of the property’s most upscale dining establishments such as Prime, Le Cirque and Picasso.
“I worked the crème de la crème of Bellagio’s fine dining,” Howell says. “And working at Bellagio really prepared me for my management role.” But being a leader is something innate in Howell, too. “I’ve always been in leadership positions since I young—always in charge. It was always a calling,” she says. That trait is something that comes from her mother, who is a retired Navy captain. “She instilled in me to be a leader.”
And Howell has now found the perfect fit with Aureole to stretch her wings and fly. “I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to open up … I was waiting for the right room that had a lot of potential, and that’s Aureole. It’s such a jewel box.”
One task that Howell has undertaken since joining Aureole is revamping the cocktail list. “One of my goals is evolving the menu and making a cocktail menu that is really inspired, and one that we truly believe in,” she says. One of the new additions is the Dirty Blonde cocktail, one of Howell’s personal faves. It’s a blend of Monkey 47 gin, simple syrup and lavender bitters, topped with champagne and a swath of lemon peel for garnish. It’s a twist on the classic French 75 cocktail. The lavender bitters enhance the lavender flavor in the gin, giving the cocktail a nice floral, fresh flavor, with the champagne adding a refreshing and bubbly finish to each sip.
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