05/28/2012 12:39 EDT | Updated 05/28/2012 12:46 EDT

The Chandelier: Sparkling, Classy Cocktail Fun In Vegas

Chandelier Bar

The Chandelier at Cosmopolitan seems a little over the top, even for Las Vegas.

That's because the entire three-level bar sits inside a chandelier, a dazzling and elegant structure made up of some two million beaded crystals.

The venue holds up to 500 guests, and each of the three levels - the Bottom, the Inside (or 1.5) and the Top - has its own bar and unique style.

The furnishings are luxurious throughout, with hardwood floors and plenty of sleek black-leather chairs and red-felt accents to contrast with the luminous chandelier crystals. For a more intimate experience, spend an evening downing cocktails in one of the sumptuous booths in the Inside level.

You needn't show up at this posh lounge wearing a tuxedo, but you might feel underdressed if you don't. The place exudes class, especially at night, when the shimmering lights of the chandelier leave patrons in wide-eyed awe.

I met Mariena Mercer, the bar's general manager and property mixologist, and half expected to see James Bond walk in and take a seat beside me - wearing a tuxedo, of course.


The Chandelier reflects Mercer's personality: creative, welcoming, daring and charming - but with a little bite. She starts us off with a delicious cocktail called the Libertine ($12) - Maker's 46 bourbon, lemon juice, orange marmalade, rosemary syrup and maple-syrup foam - which won the Whiskey for Women competition in Las Vegas in 2010.

If you're feeling adventurous, try one of her unique infused cocktails like the Fire Breathing Dragon (raspberry, lemongrass, and Thai chili libation, garnished with a raspberry treated with liquid nitrogen - $12). Once the raspberry enters the mouth, the berry releases cool smoke, creating the impression that you are indeed a fire-breather. The drink itself is fruity and not too sweet, with a nice kick from the chili.

One of the most popular drinks on the 1.5 level - the Verbena ($12) - isn't even on the menu. Its fame has spread through word of mouth alone, and is one of the most curious drinks I've ever tasted.

"This cocktail is going to make your tongue feel funny," Mercer says mischievously as she prepares the mysterious concoction.

She isn't kidding. The secret ingredient is the Szechuan button flower (Acmella oleracea), which somehow electrifies the taste buds while deadening the tongue like an anesthetic. It's a unique sensation you won't soon forget.

"It's our secret cocktail that's not on any menu, just served on that floor, and we sold 30,000 of them last year alone," Mercer says. "It's a lemon-verbena-ginger margarita essentially, garnished with a Szechuan button, one of nature's gems."

Mercer explains that the exotic flower enhances the salivary glands, making you a "super-taster" with heightened perception of flavours.

A smooth yet electrifying drink made by a mixologist who has never been short on surprises. Like I said, this lounge has bite.

- Author was a guest of the city of Las Vegas.

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