Checking out what’s new in Vegas at MGM Resorts

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Las Vegas is constantly evolving, and no one is more attuned to the necessity of making those changes than MGM Resorts International, the company behind such Vegas properties like Mandalay Bay, Aria and Bellagio. Two weeks ago, Bullz-Eye was invited to check out MGM’s latest hotel, the completely renovated Delano Las Vegas, and sample the accommodations, restaurants and nightlife that visitors can expect during their stay. But because there’s a lot more to what MGM Resorts is doing beyond the launch of the Delano to enhance its guest experience, we were invited back this past weekend to witness first-hand some of the newer additions that have helped transform Las Vegas into a destination that’s more about luxury than gambling.

In fact, MGM has seen a major shift over the last 10 to 15 years in how important things like food, entertainment, pools and nightclubs have become for the typical Vegas visitor, to the point that casino gaming now only makes up about 30% of its business. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic for a city where gambling used to be its bread and butter, but it just goes to show why MGM is striving to stay ahead of the curve in addressing the priorities of its guests, and they’ve done an amazing job so far. This may have been my first visit to Sin City, but after discovering all the cool things it has to offer, it definitely won’t be my last.

Day One

There’s nothing worse than air travel, especially when you’re forced to deal with unwanted layovers and delays, so by the time I finally arrived in Las Vegas and checked into my room at the hip and swanky Delano, the only thing on my mind was face-planting into the comfy hotel bed for a much-needed nap. But the folks at MGM had invited myself and three other travel writers joining me on the trip to an once-in-a-lifetime cognac dinner at Sage inside Aria, and it was an event not to be missed.

sage

In addition to a specially crafted five-course menu by Chef Shawn McClain, with Drappier champagne pairings chosen by Director of Wine Kim Wood, we sampled five different cognacs brought by special guest Benedict Hardy, the CEO of Hardy Cognac. Though the menu featured plenty of highlights, including a Fois Gras Custard Brulee, Kobe Skirt Steak Diane and Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta, the chance at tasting some high-end cognacs was a real delight, especially the pre-1870s unblended variation confidently called Perfection, a genuine antique that runs $25,000 bottle (or about $800 a glass), of which only 200 or so remain.

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Creating A Good Shopping Experience

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When customers are looking for a nice place to shop, they have many choices online. However, these customers must be drawn to a place that is going to provide a great many resources for them to shop. The best places to shop are easy to use, easy to navigate and provide security for the customer. When a business wants to learn more about 1ShoppingCart, they must remember that the shopping cart is only part of their improvement of their site.

The Save Feature

When people come to a website to shop, they want to be able to save the information that they find on the site. The customer should be able to save all the items that interest them in a shopping cart, but they should also be able to save their payment information in their account. When the customer logs on to their account, they can use their payment information to immediately make purchases. Also, the customers who have saved their information in their account will be able to click just once to buy something. The item will be shipped immediately, and the customer has a much better experience overall.

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Successful Launch: A Primer for the First-Time Boat Owner

boating in Ft Lauderdale

If you do your research before spending your money on a boat for the first time, simply talk to almost any long term boat owner beforehand and they will invariably advise you that boat owning can be an expensive but enduring love affair.

Cost is one of the primary considerations but there are a number of other upfront and ongoing considerations that you need to factor into your finances, before you take the plunge and set sail off into the sunset.

Affordability

It can quickly become far less enjoyable to own a boat if it becomes a drain on your financial resources.

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Why eat, sleep, train, repeat is not enough

running at sunrise

Eat, sleep, train, repeat.

Sound familiar? It’s the mantra of the modern sportsman and it’s one that any serious athlete will instantly recognise. The tales of men with modest talents who have raised their game through sheer force of will are legion. Whichever sport you follow, there’ll be a dogged grinder’s tale to tell of solitary hours working at the game, long after everyone else has quit the gym or the practice ground and headed for the comforts of home.

There is something noble about those tales: John Riggins, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, Jimmy Connors… Everyone will have their own favorites, and it’s no more than fitting that the names that come to mind arrive with a misty sense of sentiment about them. These are the guys who were not born to greatness or who had greatness thrust upon them; these guys dug success out of the sporting bedrock with their own blood and sweat.

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Drink of the Week: The Algonquin

the Algonquin.As a teenager, I found myself seriously infatuated with an older women. So great was the age difference that she had actually been dead since I was in kindergarten.

Legendary wit and poet laureate of dissipated enlightenment, Dorothy Parker was probably the most interesting of the literary lights that graced New York’s Algonquin Hotel’s famed round table of notable quipsters. The informal gang o’ pals also included humorist Robert Benchley (Parker’s platonic bff), and critic Alexander Wolcott. Another great wit in the group, Harpo Marx, like Teller after him, never said a word when the cameras and microphones were on, but apparently could chat up a storm on his own time.

Now, to be honest, while the Algonquin crew and especially the wondrous Ms. Parker definitely enjoyed more than their share of cocktails, there’s no evidence they actually ever sipped a single Algonquin. Still, they should have. It’s a dry, sophisticated drink, a fruity twist on the Perfect Manhattan that’s a really solid addition to the cannon of Prohibition-era beverages.

Yes, we have no indication that they ever had the drink, but also no proof that they didn’t. I chose, therefore, to print the legend. Let’s just assume that the woman who we are told said ““If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised” and the man who opined that “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” enjoyed an Algonquin together. It’ll taste better that way.

The Algonquin

2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 maraschino cherry (desirable garnish)
1 mint leaf (optional, but intriguing, garnish)

Combine your whiskey, juice, and vermouth in a mixing vessel with the usual ton of ice. Some think you should stir it, but I say they’re wrong. Shake the dang thing vigorously and strain into a large, chilled cocktail glass. If you want smaller portions, or have small cocktail glasses, simply use 1 1/2 ounces whiskey to 3/4 ounce each pineapple juice and vermouth. Toast which ever Algonquin Round Table member you choose, but I choose the amazing Dorothy.

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The particular example of an Algonquin pictured above was not crafted by your humble boozescribe, but comes courtesy of ace mixologist, Ian, at my neighborhood watering hole, Tonga Hut. Following my instructions, Ian added a high-end Luxardo maraschino cherry and threw on a mint leaf on top, departing from the classic recipe with a Tonga Hut trademark.

Making the drink at home, I had good luck with a number of different brands. Like Ian, I found that using 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye yielded an excellent result. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Old Overholt — increasingly the default rye at craft bars nevertheless — but it still yielded a decent, if slightly more astringent, beverage. I also enjoyed killing my bottle of sweet Redemption Rye for an Algonquin’s sake.

As for vermouths, I vacillated between your basic Martini and the fancier Dolin’s. The former was smooth and relaxed while the latter added a bit of spice. Oddly enough, I think I lean towards a simpler, dryer rye for an Algonquin.

The most dramatic difference, oddly enough, was between two different brands of canned pineapple juice. (It’s against my religion, Lazy Bumism, to actually cut up and juice an whole pineapple.) There was a fairly precipitous drop in the quality of my drinks when I switched from Trader Joe’s shockingly delicious not-from-concentrate, which brags that it tastes like it would if you squeezed it yourself, to your basic Dole’s. I’m not an expert on the finer points of pineapple juice but I can tell you that the better tasting pineapple juice resulted in the better tasting Algonquin.

  

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