Review: Baccarat Bar & Lounge, Bellagio Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
- October 4, 2018 |
- By Larry Olmsted
“This is the last sanctuary for smokers,” says Radek Lhotsky, lounge manager of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Even in a mega-hotel with nearly 4,000 rooms, in smoker-friendly Las Vegas no less, it has come down to this, after the elimination of smoking in the Bellagio’s once cigar-friendly Petrosian Bar. But if the Baccarat Bar is the Bellagio’s final cigar-friendly refuge, at least it’s a good one.
The circular Baccarat Bar, which is slightly elevated and enclosed by a railing, features comfortable seating in plush armchairs and couches, arrayed to encourage intimate conversation with an upscale feel akin to a Monaco lounge. It holds just over 100 guests and is smartly located in the center of the Bellagio’s main floor, straddling the edge of the high-energy casino gaming section and the general hotel area, accessible for everyone. Baccarat Bar takes reservations, draws people who light up, and if guests complain about the smoke they are politely advised to try one of the property’s dozen-plus other bars.
Baccarat Bar opens in the back into the enclosed High Limit gaming area and serves as the bar for this gambling enclave where you can also smoke. In fact, the main humidor is inside the High Limit section, with a smaller satellite version behind the bar. Baccarat also pours drinks for Club Prive, a smaller high-limit area just next door that is preferred by some guests for its privacy, especially celebrities. (This is where Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan play when they visit.)
Baccarat Bar is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with cigars and full-drink service available at all times. (There’s no food, which is why they can keep lighting up.) Full waitress table service ends at 3 a.m., but the bartender remains on duty all night long.
The beverage list has a focus on brown spirits, including Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies, and what Lhotsky describes as “the largest collection of American whiskies on the property, and some that no other outlets in the hotel pour.” The Scotch list includes several rarities from acclaimed independent bottler Duncan Taylor going back more than 30 years and up to $7,000 a glass, while the domestic focus is on exclusive private barrel offerings.
“Bellagio was one of the first places in Las Vegas to start doing private barrels,” says Lhotsky. Now private-barrel spirits are a specialty of parent company MGM Resorts, so Baccarat carries both MGM-wide offerings and a few found only here. The MGM specialties include private-label, single-barrel Tequilas, while the Bellagio exclusives include several Bourbons, such as Elijah Craig, Eagle Rare, Four Roses, Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark 46, Woodford Reserve Double Oak, and Old Weller. Perhaps the most interesting choice is a private bottling of Smoke Wagon single barrel from Nevada’s own craft H&C Distillery.
In addition, the bar has a full list of other spirits, several signature cocktails and specialty cocktails developed to match rotating exhibitions in the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. (For instance, during a Japanese contemporary art exhibit they had recipes made with sake and Suntory whiskies). Wine lovers will happily find a deep wine, Port and Champagne list, including prestige cuvees such as Krug, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and Louis Roederer Cristal.
Because it is the Bellagio’s main cigar outlet, many guests also come to buy smokes, and so every server has been trained in proper cutting and presentation etiquette. “People come in and say, ‘Everybody in Vegas has Cohiba and Montecristo, do you have anything special?’ They want to buy them as gifts or take them home. So we thought, what can set us apart?” says Lhotsky. The answer was adding cigars hand rolled in Little Havana, Miami, custom made to wear a Bellagio band. These exclusives run from $40 to $90.
The Lounge also has a small, but curated list with a choice or two each from Arturo Fuente, Cohiba, Ashton, Romeo y Julieta, Davidoff and Montecristo. Prices start around $16, with most smokes priced in the $20 range. The most expensive cigar is a $78 Fuente Fuente OpusX Super Belicoso.
Baccarat Bar & Lounge
Bellagio Casino Hotel
3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard
La Vegas, NV 89109
Open 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week