In 2014, startender Salvatore Calabrese opened Bound at the Cromwell, creating a beach head for craft cocktails on the Las Vegas strip. Four years later, Calabrese is no longer at Bound and craft is common in the Sin City. Faced with the identity crisis so common to craft trailblazers a few years in, Bound doubled down and upped their award winning program. Take for example Lead Bartender, Dominick DeMartino and his delicious Smoke & Mirrors.
DeMartino was born in Old Vegas’ rival, Atlantic City, but his family moved to Vegas to open the old MGM when he was six-years-old. He was basically born into the industry. At age 14, he landed his first job as a dishwasher in local bakery; on the day that he turned 21, he started bartending at a sports bar. Soon, he was workings way up the ladder, winning competitions such as Stoli Elite, Hennessy, and Appleton.
In 2016, DeMartino came onboard the Bound team and spent the next year and a half working alongside Calabrese. When Calabrese left, DeMartino took the reigns. Without the bold faced name, he decided that maintaining the bar’’s appeal would require elevating the drinks even more.
Sure, Bound boasts some serious dusties including Hardy Perfection, a vertical of rare 1979, 1980, and 1991 Dalmore, and Frapin Cuvee 1888. Still, DeMartino believes that drink list is the hook. “We’ve redone the menu twice which includes seasonal specials, bartender drinks, classics in a slightly more balanced form,” he said.
An Old Fashioned spiked with premium spirits and infused cherries is the bar’s best seller. The model works well for retaining a crowd of cocktail enthusiasts. For example, the humble daiquiri is taken to the next level with Ron Zacapa 23 Solarum as a base. Obscure classic like the Lion’s Tales also made the list. Bound started making the essential allspice pimento dram in house and bumped the base up to Woodford.
In the Venn Diagram of bars, the seasonal drinks’ demo crosses over. Many hospitality industry workers begin with a standard and then progress to the latter list. “The seasonal drinks have a slightly more industry driven appeal. Not just local, but also visiting industry people,” said DeMartino. “People like to drink with the season. If stone fruit are in season why not have stone fruit cocktail?”
In addition to seasonal favorites like an apple and cinnamon infused Hennessy sidecar, DeMartino noted that the industry also stays true to form with negroni riffs, “There are so may twists,” he mused.
Still, DeMartino said that “the cool stuff” is in the bartender originals section. Here, Bound gets to flex its creative muscles. “It’s a really comfortable environment to be creative in. They give us free range here which is something that most big properties don’t—others are very by the book,” he explained. “I could bartend somewhere else, but Bound is more classic than other places. It’s not the the downtown hipster bar scene.”
The bartender section provides a sandbox for the staff to express themselves. “Our third chapter provides an opportunity to play around with the latest styles and products,” stated the Lead Bartender. “We can keep it fresh.”
Neat Pour particularly enjoyed DeMartino’s Smoke & Mirrors, a modern take on the classic egg white sour. Tequila serves as the base spirit and Martino eschews the familiar lime juice pairing for lemon. However, the key ingredient here is the Islay Scotch which adds the distinct smokey flavor driving the drink.
“It’s a nice drink for the hot Vegas summer, refreshing and citrus drive—but with a little depth through the peat,” DeMartino said.
Refreshing and drive seem to be a common theme for Bound which is on the edge of the last trend–delivering high quality drink lists instead of high profile personalities.
Smoke & Mirrors
- Rinse glass with Islay scotch.
- Combine tequila, lemon juice, egg white, and elder flower syrup with large ice in tins. Shake until emulsified.
- Double strain into glass.
- Express lemon zest.
- Garnish with Angostura bitters design.