It’s one thing to order a drink from the bar, but it’s another thing entirely to watch your drink being mixed up, garnished, and perhaps even injected with smoke from the comfort of your table. A recent example of this experience can be found at NYC’s Dante, where “The Martini Hour” cocktail menu recently debuted.
“Serving [drinks] tableside not only adds theater to the presentation,” said creative director Naren Young, “but the speed at which we can get it in front of our guests only makes for a more memorable experience overall.”
Here are some of the best tableside cocktail experiences you can check out in cities around the country.
Dante - New York City
The cocktail menu here is exemplary, with a section dedicated to Negronis, an All Day Bloody Mary served with cold-pressed veggies, and a superior riff on the classic Old Fashioned made with rye, amaro, and salted honey.
Enter The Martini Hour, with eight versions of the martini that are bottled and served tableside.
The most elaborate of these is the Tableside Martini Service for four – a Plymouth gin martini is presented with all the trimmings at your table so you can pick and choose how to garnish this satisfyingly ice cold classic.
Park MGM Pool – Las Vegas
The new Park MGM in Las Vegas is full of culinary highlights, including Eataly, Roy Choi’s Best Friend, and The NoMad Bar. But it’s poolside that you can find a roaming cocktail cart to whet your thirst.
Juniper Cocktail Lounge is focused on gin (management says it has the biggest collection in the city), and from noon to 5 p.m. this cart offers sunbathers a selection of gin-based cocktails made with fresh juice and elegant glassware, along with a variety of other drinks.
The Modern - New York City
The Modern offers guests a true fine dining experience next door to NYC’s Museum of Modern Art – dinner is a seven-course meal that costs $228 per person. Of course, there are excellent cocktails to match, including the Black Forest Gibson that is made tableside.
This riff on a martini is made with Monkey 47 Gin, which is distilled in the Germany’s Black Forest, blanc and dry vermouth, and “filthy” pickled onions that have been steeped in gin. The glassware and bar cart are as beautiful as the drink itself.
Cherry Circle Room – Chicago
Cherry Circle Room is located in the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, and has been reimagined to capture the feeling of the restaurant that bore the same name for many years.
In addition to any upscale menu, the restaurant offers a cocktail cart that focuses on classics like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.
The menu changes quarterly, and the brand-new cocktail list includes an Improved Whiskey Cocktail made with Westward single malt, a Punch Vieux made with rhum agricole, and the Rosita made with Casa Noble Joven tequila.
Bourbon Steak – Los Angeles
At Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Los Angeles (Glendale, to be exact), you can order a tableside smoked whiskey to go with your steak.
The Tableside Bourbon Flight brings a selection of quality whiskeys (Whistle Pig and Willett, for example) that are smoked with cedar, tobacco, or cinnamon using a cooking blowtorch as you watch.
There’s also an excellent Japanese Whisky Ceremony cocktail cart that rolls up with a selection of Suntory and Nikka whisky that are served over a perfect ice sphere along with “pairing essence” elements like coffee beans or cinnamon.
Fleur by Hubert Keller – Las Vegas
The Bloody Mary is a classic brunch cocktail that offers a sensible reason to start drinking before noon, and it’s one that Fleur by Hubert Keller at Mandalay Bay takes very seriously.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday, guests can order drinks from a Bloody Mary cart that offers the choice of five different base spirits, three levels of spice, 20 different hot sauces, and garnishes ranging from asparagus to bacon to prawns.
The Bamboo Room – Chicago
The Kona Coffee Grog is based on a drink originally conceived of at Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s. Pour-over coffee is lit on fire and poured over rum, honey, coconut, and orange, as customers enjoy the fiery show.