Tao Group bottle service gets fresh with Ripe Craft Juice

Tao Group beverage director Tim Keller with his company’s juicy new offerings.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Big Vegas nightlife is constantly evolving, but there’s one aspect of partying in the club that hasn’t changed much in recent years—the juice.

Bottle service traditionally equals vodka with carafes of club soda and orange and cranberry juice, and those juices are usually of the cloyingly sweet, sugar-packed, probably-from-concentrate variety. It’s one part of the experience that could stand to be refreshed, and that’s exactly what Tao Group has been doing.

Over the summer, Tao, Tao Beach, Marquee and Marquee Dayclub rolled out an optional upgrade to those traditional mixers using Ripe Craft Juice products. The New Haven, Connecticut-based company makes cold-pressed fruit juices with high-pressure technology that preserves colors, flavors, aromas and nutrition from totally traceable produce—they know which farm every orange or pineapple comes from. There’s no heat used in the production and no pasteurization, so the product has a longer shelf life. Most importantly, it tastes fresh-squeezed.

“We realized this was a better product and more consistent than what we could actually produce,” says Tao Group Beverage Director Tim Keller. “We can muddle fresh limes, but if you buy a case of limes, they could all be of different quality, some with more sweetness, some bitter. We’re trying to create consistency. When we sampled this product, it blew us away.”

Keller has been with Tao since 2008 and has been running the company’s drink program for almost five years. You might assume clubgoers don’t care about the quality of their booze mixers, but he knows better. “We are blessed in this town to do high volumes at our pools and nightclubs,” he says. “But we [in the industry] go out all the time, and we get tired of having vodka sodas, and we’re also looking for something different even if we still want to be in that environment. You can get a great craft cocktail at a lounge or bar, but it would be nice if you had another option [at the club]. Now we’ve given our servers the ability to make a great cocktail tableside, because that part of the work is done for them.”

Ripe Craft juice flavors include cranberry, cran-apple and red grapefruit, and the company has a “bar juice” line that offers pre-mixed versions of the margarita, the Bloody Mary, the mojito, the cosmopolitan and lemon sour and Bajan punch flavors.

The upgrade has been an easy sell for the Tao venues, partly because they aren’t charging a lot—an additional $24 is no big deal for clubgoers who are spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars in one night—and partly because the staff loves to sell it. “We want to make it approachable, but people are more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies, and people are more educated and know what they are getting,” Keller says. “Also, our team does a great job of recommending things. The first thing we did was a [staff tasting], and it really does taste like it was just freshly squeezed before being poured into your glass. You pitch it that way and it resonates. The staff knows it tastes great, and they share their passion. It’s just a better experience.”

So you’re getting a healthier cocktail mixer, more vitamins when you’re at the pool or in the club, and a tastier drink, too. If you’re ordering a higher quality spirit, it only makes sense to upgrade your juice.

Considering the still-growing trend of cold-pressed juices in grocery stores and juice bars, it’s safe to expect more clubs are going to be putting something better in those carafes. “We think it will continue to grow,” Keller says. “The easiest thing is to watch our guests take a sip and see the reaction on their face.”

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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