Las Vegas Bar Show: Innovative Product Awards and Honorable Mentions

1 05 2009

Yes, granted, my job is kinda weird.  I do all sorts of random things but even I concede that the weirdest of them all is the Vegas Bar Show.  The Show is run by Nightclub and Bar Magazine in Las Vegas annually in conjunction with the Restaurant Show and Hotel Show.  The Vegas Bar Show is to my knowledge the largest in the United States.  I have not been to any of the other shows, but this show is really unique.

At this show you not only find great spirits producers, interesting innovations but also craziness, craziness to put other spiritous events to shame.  The event is fun of course as you get to run around and taste new spirits but at the same time there are a slew of wristband vendors, glassware vendors, disc jockey suppliers, urinal cake vendors, exterminators, etc.  So if you are in fact a bar or restaurant owner this show has some very real merit to you.  Add to that energy drinks, costume salespeople (do you remember that CSI about Las Vegas’ Furries that dress up in animal costumes?  They had these there in case you need them), and stripper pole salespeople.  Spirits companies have realized that the majority of attendees are male and as a result have numerous “models” on hand to promote their products, dancing, sliding down plastic slides into pools of energy drinks and the like.  Ironically the show has a disclaimer that says “Attendees would avoid wearing any clothing that may be interpreted as promiscuous, provacative or overly suggestive.”  but no one seemed to be cited.

The bar show is not all about fun and games and “micro” wrestling, it also offers many seminars, mix offs, parties and event that make it educational.  While the scene was very crazy I was able to glean some interesting information about new trends and some interesting products!

Great Products (REALLY!)

Amarula Cream

This was an exciting spirit from Africa made from the Marula tree.  Technically known as teh “Sclerocarya Birrea” this tree produces a fruit with white flesh around a large stone.  Elephants are known to be drawn to the fragrant ripening fruit and come from miles away to eat from the tree, so it’s also known as the “Elephant Tree”.    This liqueur is made from this Marula fruit and has a really unique flavor.  Texturally it is of course creamy, but it is not as sweet as you would expect.  I can think of some really interesting applications for it and have to say I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it as I am not usually a fan of cream liqueurs!  Imported by A.V. Brands, Columbia, MD.

Mekhong The Spirit of Thailand mekhong

Mekhong was something I had never tried and I really liked it.  It comes from Thailand and is really unique, like nothing I have ever tasted.  It is distilled from cane and about 5% rice.  They have created a recipe book with the team at Employees Only in Manhattan and I expect that once tasted by more bartenders this will be a bit hit across the country.  Somewhat spiced, strong yet not overly so and very mixable with citrus or tropical fruits it was exotic and intriguing.  I can’t wait to get a bottle in my hands to see what else it’s capable of!

Mejor Tequila

Mejor offers some really flavorful and correct tequilas.  They had a silver, Reposado and Anejo but I have to say I was also intrigued by the appearance and packaging of their pink tequila.  I guess I am a girl after all.  What I liked about it was that it was a pretty shade of pink but was pure and agave flavored like the silver.  No added energy enhancements, supplements, bitterness, flavoring etc., just pink!

Firestarter Vodka

Although it was late in the day and I had no desire to taste another vodka, the package for this product was truly exceptional.  The vodka is made of wheat and comes from Moldova which is interesting, but the draw is that it resembles an actual fire extinguisher and has a really cool box that houses it.  The only thing I would worry about is that if I got too drunk and there was a fire, I might grab the bottle and make the fire worse.  That’s just me though I guess.

Questionable products, but perhaps useful:

Urine Off by Bio-Pro Research urine-off

I took notice of this due to the very fancy rolling “briefcases” they were doling out and did some research.  The catalog says “Urine Off uses green technology to permanently remove the toughest urine odors and stains, even old stains.”  “Urine Off also works on other body fluids such as semen, blood, etc. and many organic deposits…an effective weapon to solve the toughest hospitality issues.”  This product makes me never want to stay in a hotel again.  Did you know that the remote control is the dirtiest thing in the hotel room?  Think about it. 

The Booze Belly by P&P Imports

This handy plastic “belly” holds your favorite beverage against your belly so that you can sneak it into a sporting event.  I was surprised that they didn’t have booze boobies, and a bit disappointed.  I would think that most folks that are desparate to smuggle their beer into a game against their belly where it gets all warm and steamy may not have that much extra room for the Booze Belly, but the boobies would be useful don’t you think?  Except that whether or not your team wins at the end of the game you’d be feeling a bit deflated.  They also sell floating beer pong holders.  Can someone tell me how you play beer pong in the pool?


You know this company for their very useful cards that work (sometimes) on hotel room doors allowing you access to your room.  That is unless you happen to be like me who shorts the magnetic cards out all the time.  The good news is that they have exciting new technology that should allow you to use what usually shorts those cards out, your PHONE to get into your room.  I didn’t get a chance to check it out but it sounded convenient to me.  On a side note, I stayed at the Flamingo, one of the Harrah’s casino chain and was dismayed that my room key card looked exactly like my Harrah’s Casino players card, whose brilliant idea was that?  I was giving my room key to the pit boss and trying to open my door with points.

Noah’s Ark Resort 801 785 3680

Seems that this company sells the right for sale for 300 lovely animal motif rooms that look like Noah’s Ark.  “All features are Noah and the Flood related.”  Computer generated rainstorms and rainbow in the Rainbow Restaurant and best of all Mt Ararat ballroom.  I think if you have a hankering to open a business franchise screw Dunkin’ Donuts, this is what you’ve been waiting for.

And the winners for NOT such a good idea:

Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf Liquor coca-leaf-liqueur

Sorry, but anything that says “Warning No More Than 3!” is not for me, but perhaps you would really enjoy it.  This liqueur contains 40 grams of coca leaf extract per liter and is made, where else, Amsterdam.  It happens to be 100% Natural and also contains Guarana and Ginseng, talk about a buzz.  They suggest serving with a bite of fresh lime before which “activates the alkaloids of the coca leaf to produce a powerful oxygen buzz.”  I opted to skip this one. 

Smokeless Cigarettes (multiple booths)

Pure nicotine straight to your lungs!  You don’t even need matches!  Apparently it’s better for you since you don’t have to get all the carbon monoxide, just pure nicotine.  YUM!

The DraftMaster by ESS Ellickson Software Systems 866 503-0578

“The 21st century pitcher!”  “Allow your customers to pour their own draft beer AT THEIR TABLE while you control How much they consume… Get paid for every drop!”  How in the world is this legal?  Does this tap card them too?  Although I think I see a place for this in airport bars where it seems the waitresses don’t realize that EVERYONE in there has places to go.  Except them.  Ok, now I see.

Off the strip

Laura Herbert, my good friend from grammar school who happens to now be on the Board of Trustees of the Burlesque Hall of Fame has shown me that there is more to Vegas than the strip.  First, Frankie’s Tiki Bar is a great place, not too far from the strip, to indulge in your inner tiki.  Be aware that it tends to be pretty smoky but the cocktails are great and the new owner has created a crazy tiki vibe.  The way Vegas should be!

Forever locals have been telling me about the infamous Lotus of Siam restaurant, 953 E Sahara Ave #A-5, 702 735-3033  Hard to get into but worth it and their Tom Ka Gai might just burn a hole in your stomach or make you cry, so be CAREFUL!  But it’s well worth the pain.  The food is incredible and the wine list is something Riesling and Gruner Veltliner afficionados would die for, and well priced.  I am sure that after saying this that my Vegas friends will give me the “what for” for telling you about it and this may need to come off my site soon, so take down the info and GO!

Laura and I hit a party for Hendrick’s Gin at the Artisan Hotel, (1501 W Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89102 one of the nicer properties off the strip.  Comfortable bar, cozy atmosphere and apparently a great place to stay.  Maybe I was swayed by the Hendrick’s cocktails?  But I had a great time.  Sometimes you just need to get away, even in Vegas.  Try also the Green Valley Ranch and the Red Rock Hotel, two nice off strip casino hotels that let you escape the strip mania.



I was able to get a $56 rate at the Flamingo Hotel, very decent accomodations, because I am a gamber.  If you gamble at all please be sure to get a players card at each location at which you spend money because you can get great discounts!



One response

17 09 2009

I am happy to attest I finally tasted the Agwa Coca leaf liquor. I was working with the Pork Board this week doing food and wine pairing classes and we had our closing dinner at the lovely Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. One in our group asked for some Chartreuse, nope these are not amateurs, and they didn’t have any but suggested this liqueur. Bright green, herbal but actually really balanced in sweetness. Not bad at all, and check it out, the guarana and ginseng means that I am still awake! I guess Rudyard Kipling who was said to drink coca leaf wine was onto something. And luckily there is no actual cocaine in the spirit. Whew!

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