Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Femme Chinoise at Twist! by Pierre Gagnaire Las Vegas

In the best of restaurants, the right cocktail can be the beginning of a perfect meal.

High atop the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, overlooking the Las Vegas Strip in all its glitter and neon color, is the serene Twist! By Pierre Gagnaire, a cool modern temple to haute cuisine from one of the great Chefs de Cuisine, Michelin Three Star Pierre Gagnaire.

As befits the Adam Tihany-designed restaurant, the bar is clean and uncluttered, simple and elegant, almost minimalist.  The back bar is sparely furnished but impressive and carefully selected brands dominate the shelves.

The Femme Chinoise
The styles of the featured cocktails tend toward clean and simple flavors as well.  This is not simply a bar with drinks:  it is a bar with drinks designed to lead in to the meal that is about to come.  Nothing heavy, nothing weighty, nothing that dominates; clean, simple, light, stimulating and direct is the order of the day here.

 A superb example was the Femme Chinoise, a simple, uncluttered combination of Milagro Reposado tequila, German Mosel Riesling and fresh grapefruit, garnished with a long curling peel of grapefruit.
The floral Highlands style of Milagro Reposado, mellowed by a short term in oak barrels and rounded in its combination of herbs and fruits and hint of salt, melds seamlessly with the acidic perk of grapefruit, and the sweet-tart-sour background note of Mosel Riesling, with all three ingredients maintaining a tenuous balance, each reinforcing the other. 
To prolong the freshness and intensity of flavors in this delicately composed cocktail, a large round ball of extra-hard ice fills the glass, the slow dilution keeping pace with the slow sip
The other cocktails follow the theme, with clean, fresh, unadorned flavors sharpening the palate, preparing it for the similarly constructed dishes designed by Gagnaire, so the aperitif flows into the appetizers to stimulate the gastric juices, drawing you into the meal, into the experience, into the evening.

In a fine restaurant, every element is precisely arranged to support the entire experience, including a crucial part: the beginning.  And the Femme Chinoise is a perfect beginning at Twist! By Pierre Gagnaire.

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