When it comes to the Strip’s party pools, there’s no shortage of large-format intoxicants, be they bright-colored pitchers (Wet Republic) or alcohol-infused melon baskets (Hard Rock Hotel). But this summer, Caesars Palace has handily iced the competition, if you’ll forgive the pun (spoiler alert: There will be many more). Exclusively for cabana service, the resort’s property mixologist, Eddie Perales, has concocted a showy 16-ingredient punch—nearly all of it fresh—that is mixed poolside in a 20-pound solid ice punch bowl and served in carved ice rocks glasses while the liquor is kept chilled in its own ice bucket.
Is that cool or what?
“I wanted something grand,” Perales says. “Something fun and tropical,” but also a concept that captured “that summertime picnic experience from when we were kids.”
So, calling on his own experience with ice carving for catering functions, he collaborated with local company Ice Occasions, who have the capacity for “air-water” freezing, which takes four to seven days, infusing the water with oxygen while removing impurities (the Cosmopolitan’s Kold Draft ice cube machines work on a similar principle).
It also had to be something flexible to work with virtually any alcohol guests desired—tequila, bourbon, rum, vodka or gin. Perales created five different punch varieties, including Hercules (watermelon, strawberries and mint), Gladiator (blood orange, citrus, mint and rosemary), Helois (cucumber, green apple, cilantro and basil) and Zeus (peach, apricot, pomegranate, mint). The entire presentation is included in the price of any cabana bottle service, which, if you insist on being overcharged for your alcohol, at least offers a bit more theater than the typical trio of canned juice carafes and lime wedges.
In April, Perales adapted the punch for a competition sponsored by Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Going up against 11 other Strip bartenders at MGM’s Tabu, he brought a full 900-pound ice bar—which took five days of freezing to create—laser-etched with the Caesars Palace logo. Needless to say, he iced the competition (and one can only imagine the frosty looks he got from MGM staff while loading in).
One of the few serious mixologists on the Strip to also have experience in the more acrobatic flair bartending world, Perales was ranked in the world’s top 20 by the Flair Bartending Association in the ’90s, more recently competing as one of three gold medal-winning Team USA members in the 2007 Cocktail World Cup, then capping that with a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most cocktails mixed in one hour (alas, some guy in Minnesota dethroned him in 2009).
Perales speaks humbly when it comes to his achievements, but offers a quote from Michael Caine that seems particularly apt for poolside service: “Be like a swan. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
Jack Daniel’s “Honey I’m Off Sunday” Punch
Purist cocktailers might argue that the number of ingredients in Eddie’s punch is excessive and unnecessary. But hey, this is Vegas. Unnecessary is what we do best.
Ingredients for 1 punch bowl:
1/2 liter Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
1/2 liter fresh watermelon juice infused with strawberries
1/2 liter fresh orange juice infused with blackberries
1/2 liter fresh lemon sour
1/2 liter fresh cantaloupe juice
1 1/2 oz of rock melon Monin syrup
1 1/2 oz of watermelon Monin syrup
1 tbsp of orange marmalade
15-20 large mint leaves
3 oz cup of edible flowers
Watermelon balls, small
Cantaloupe balls, small
Paper thin sliced oranges, blood orange, lemon, limes
2 oz muddled fresh cranberries
Method: Add all ingredients together in pitcher or bowl with ice. Mix, stir and pour.