One thing we unfortunately didn't get to do was to meet the Bellagio's "beverage specialist" while were in Vegas. We had a nice chat with our waitress, who was a fellow New Orleanian, and she told us that given our interest in cocktails we should definitely meet Tony Abou-Ganim. He creates all the specialty cocktails for the hotel's bars, and she said he enjoys talking to fellow enthusiasts. Alas, time and group inertia and tiredness intervened, so we didn't get back over there when he was on the premises. (Now I hear he's no longer with the hotel. D'oh.)

By sheer coincidence, the very day I got back I saw him on Food Network's "Molto Mario" (one of my very favorite shows), eating Mario's food but more importantly, making him a cocktail.

From his appearance on the show I learned that not only does he create cocktails for the bars, but for the hotel's elegant restaurants as well. He created this one for Picasso, one of the five-star dining establishments within the fabulous Bellagio, and named it after its chef, the renowned Spanish chef Julián Serrano. It's a very nice aperitivo, and I bet it'd be spectacular with blood oranges.


1-1/4 ounces vodka
5/8 ounce Limoncello
5/8 ounce Campari
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

Mix the ingredients over cracked ice in a cocktail shaker,
then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a
spiral twist of lime.

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Chuck Taggart   email chef (at) gumbopages (dot) com