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Perfect Gin & Tonic

A woman at one of the tables at the front of Petrossian Bar near the Steinway grand piano inconspicuously sets her Fendi handbag on the table as the pianist performs familiar songs. A man arranges the key chain for his BMW next to his cocktail so the throngs of visitors walking by the bar next to the Bellagio’s famous lobby can see the insignia.

“This is a place to see and be seen,” says Ricardo Murcia, Bellagio’s assistant director of beverage and master mixologist. “That’s why people leave their car keys out or wear a big watch here. They want to be seen. We wanted to make Petrossian different and entertaining.”

That reasoning led to Petrossian’s move to upgrade its cocktail menu, showcasing the talent behind the bar and the upscale nature of the lounge. Bellagio now has hand-selected aged barrels of bourbon, whiskey and tequila available only at the resort. As a sign of the exclusivity found there, the resort even has fruit peel garnishes branded with the Bellagio “B,” just another touch of class to elevate the experience here. Even the ice got a makeover, now shaped like a diamond, a clever way to recognize the resort’s AAA Five Diamond designation.

But it’s the cocktails here that really heighten the experience. “People want to be seen with sexy cocktails,” Murcia says.

Take the gin and tonic, a drink Murcia says is misunderstood. One take on the staple, called the May Gin & Tonic, combines Bombay Sapphire East gin, Cointreau for a bit of orange flavor and frothy egg whites. When the Fever Tree tonic is poured in the drink, a bubbly head forms. The drink itself is a nice introduction to the gin and tonic. “The way that we make the cocktails changes from the way anyone else makes cocktails,” Murcia says. “People will most likely order a second one.”

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Longtime fans of the classic cocktail can order the Perfect Gin & Tonic, an over-the-top way to experience this drink. It starts with Hendrick’s gin poured over that diamond-shaped ice cube, cucumber and kaffir lime. Murcia serves Fever Tree tonic water on the side so guests can have their cocktail as strong, or weak, as they choose.

The Elena, a tip of the hat to Amaro Montenegro (which was named for the princess of Montenegro), uses the digestif mixed with Tanqueray Malacca, some ginger extract and a little Perrier for bubbly, twisting the cocktail into something an after-dinner drink.

All can be found on the new mixology collection section of the menu, a list of thoughtful cocktails. Also new is the Bellagio collection, a jazzed-up menu of classics such as the Miami mojito, the cosmopolitan and mai tai. Don’t be surprised to find descriptors such as sweet or savory on the menu. It’s intentional and meant to encourage guests to ask the staff, “What’s in this drink?”

“We plant a seed and get you to think, ‘What does that mean?’” Murcia says. “We elevated the menu. Now we have a chance to elevate the interaction.”

Bellagio, 24 hours daily. 702.693.7111