In love with clear spirits but tempted by the dark side of whiskey? Heard about infusing alcohol with herbs, teas and fruits but need some hand-holding before going bottoms up? Mosey over to any of the four Michael Mina Group restaurants and let your curiosities thrive through the monthly guided program known as Down the Hatch.
Expect seasonality, cultural celebrations and trends to influence what ends up in your glass, without muddling avenues for exploration. “We wanted the creativity of each outlet to shine through so we just give broad-stroke guidelines and let them develop their own drink concepts,” says Daniel Grajewski, Mina Group beverage director.
That’s what I did, with splashes of spice, smoke and a history lesson, when I stopped by Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay for last month’s tequila vs. mezcal event. Assistant General Manager Robert Villanueva interpreted the rivalry by creating two approachable cocktails, but it was the pungent, smoky flavor of the mezcal, with its charred core and extra earthiness from Thai basil, that won my heart.
Down the Hatch uncorks its Haus of Riesling program this month, focusing on the German wine varietal perfect for summertime sipping due to its stone-fruit essence and crisp acidity. Flaunting the wine’s breadth, Stripsteak sommelier Steve Hua chose three gems, including the bone-dry finish of Weingut Diel’s Eierfels Trocken 2010 and the sweet, almost syrupy Dr. Loosen’s Estate Eiswein 2012, made from grapes picked when frozen (hence its “ice wine” name).
Keep the buzz going by posting Down the Hatch libations on Instagram with #MinaHatch to receive some edible appreciation on your next visit, and a chance to win an exclusive surprise at the end of the year.