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103 LUXURYLV.COM | DEC-JAN 2016-2017 New Alto Bar at Caesars Palace named after ancient Roman ruler's canine SEAHORSE LOUNGE GOES TO THE DOG D uring Halloween weekend, the Seahorse Lounge, a venerable 13-year-old Caesars Palace staple, was swept away in the tide of progress like so much dipsomaniacal driftwood. (Is that enough water puns? We can stop now.) Reborn as Alto Bar — named after Julius Caesar's dog — the remodeled space offers a modern look for the largest lounge spot in the whole joint, neatly forming a third leg of the triangle with two other relatively sleek Caesars newcomers, Omnia Nightclub and Searsucker. It's posited as a before-and-after space for the dinner or clubbing set, and, with televisions built into the outer rail at eye level for seated customers, a haven for sports lovers when the nearby book is too crowded. The kitsch of the old Seahorse aquarium will be missed, but the refresh in the space brings it squarely into the mid-teens and adds a sophisticated touch to an area that partly was used in the past for The Pussycat Dolls merchandise. The menu is brief with 10 entries, of which eight are faithful takes on classics that aim to elevate old standards through the time-honored tradition of using top-notch ingredients. The Woodford Manhattan, for one, is all right there in the name: a healthy dose of Woodford Reserve and trendy-but-excellent Carpano Antica vermouth. The offerings continue on like this with a Moscow mule, a bloody mary, gin and tonic, and a cosmopolitan with all their attendant top-shelf trimmings. It starts to get interesting, though, with the Alto margarita, made with a Patrón reposado from barrels hand-selected annually as "Caesars Select," the pick of the litter for the property. As smooth and delicate as repo is, it has a hard time fighting off the agave nectar, leading to a margarita that shades sweet. It's keeping in line with Alto's philosophy of being a place for approachable cocktails for all drinkers, and it certainly softens the challenging approach of some of our more mixologically hard-line watering holes. The Absolut Elyx martini comes with a sidecar of charity, as every purchase nets two gallons of clean drinking water to someone in need as part of the Water for People Project. The gimmick with Elyx is that it's a luxury wheat- based vodka distilled in a copper still, and to hammer that home, the Elyx martini is served in custom copper coupes, which are a little something different to look at. Light mouthfeel from the Elyx and the featherlight Dolin vermouth make this martini go down like water; though the base-covering brace of olives — one blue cheese, one pimento — give the game away. Ms. Molly is one of two originals on the menu, combining Tanqueray, Lillet Rose, Giffard pink grapefruit liqueur, lemon and Möet Rosé. If lychee martinis were ever your game, you'll be at home here. It's not overwhelmingly floral, and the tart of the grapefruit and sweet of the rose balance neatly, with just enough effervescence to keep your tongue looking sharp. Finally, the Crown of the Gods stands up as the highlight of the menu. It's another original, this time blending Crown Royal and lime syrup with Solerno blood orange liqueur. This one is light, but complex. Crown keeps it in Alto's approachable wheelhouse without the deep pepperiness of a pure rye, while the Solerno gives you the barest hint that this drink is casting out a line and hoping to bait you with its proximity to an old-fashioned. OK, that was the last sea pun. o BY JASON SCAVONE S A V O R | V I C E S