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Patricia Richards

Secrets Behind the Wynn Cocktail Program

    Patricia Richards
Mixologist Wynn Las Vegas & Encore

With cocktails on the mind and the holiday spirit in our heart, TravelsinTaste.com recently spoke with award-winning mixologist Patricia Richards of Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas. Since 2007, she's overseen the creation of specialty cocktails for the resorts’ food and beverage outlets and has the unique distinction of being the first female in Las Vegas to run a program of such size. Richards has been with Wynn since its 2005 opening, when she was lead bartender at Parasol Up, prior to which she was at Fiamma Trattoria at the MGM Grand, BOA Steakhouse at Caesar's Palace and at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. She's received a number of awards along the way, including the silver medal in the 2006 Bacardi Martini Grand Prix in Torino, Italy, third place in the 2006 Canada and United States Tabasco Sauce “Hottest Bartender” competition, second place in the Travel + Leisure Beverage Arts Challenge and the 2008 Cheers Magazine Rising Star Award. In 2009, Richards also was named one of Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Hotel Bartenders” and won the “Iron Bar Chef” competition that was hosted by Santé Magazine, where six of the country’s top mixology professionals competed against one another to create the best cocktails. Because we've tasted some of her specialty cocktails in the past -- and know just how creative and delicious they can be -- we decided to speak to Richards about her inspiration, how she creates her magnificent cocktails and the secrets behind her new cocktail menu at Parasol.

Mayan Hot Chocolate

TravelsinTaste.com: Where do you find the time and the inspiration for such creative cocktails? Can you walk us through one?

Richards: My inspiration is: I know I have a particular menu coming up, so I think about that menu and the concepts and where it's going to be. Is it low-volume or high-volume, for example? Then I get my inspiration from anywhere: the chefs, I could be watching a food show, I could be in a restaurant looking at the chef's menu, I could be looking at my trade magazines or I could get an inspiration just on my own intuition -- pomegranate with rosemary, for example, or some sort of spiced apple for this time of year, and then I'm thinking blood orange with saffron. My latest one, which was hounding me like a little gnat, was a Mayan Hot Chocolate that consists of coffee, hot chocolate, Pasilla Chile powder and ground cinnamon. My intuition was nagging me to put those four ingredients together into a cocktail, so it ended up being a Mayan Hot Chocolate with some Kahlua and some Hennessy VSOP Cognac and a float of heavy cream; it's absolutely delicious. I made my own hot chocolate mix; I used a nice quality cocoa mix and I added some Vahlrona Dutch Chocolate, some ground Pasilla Chile powder and some ground cinnamon. To that you add hot water, Kahlua, Hennessy VSOP, a float of some heavy cream and a little sprinkle of cinnamon. It's absolutely delicious; it really warms the senses. It's not too spicy, but you get that little bit of warmth from the Pasilla Chile, but it's not overpowering at all. It melds really nicely into that combination.

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