Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rat Pack Weekend & Birthday Extravaganza

I confess.  Up until this past weekend, the only time I'd ever spent in Las Vegas, Nevada was a layover in the airport.  As I'm not a big oontz-oontz club-goer, nor do I gamble, there was really no huge desire to go to Sin City.  At least, not conventionally.

Years ago, some friends of mine and I had discussed the idea of going to Las Vegas for a Rat Pack-styled weekend.  Now THAT sounded interesting.  So when the idea was resurrected to celebrate the milestone birthdays of four fabulous fellas--I was giddy about going.

This past weekend was our Rat Pack Birthday Extravaganza and it was a royal hoot.  Major props and tremendous thanks go to Kerri "the enabler" Morin for producing the affair.  She scouted the locations and picked the times and places for our meet-ups throughout Vegas.  Our weekend would not have been nearly so much fun without her hard work.

Kerri & Carol Ann at Oscar's
Friday night we meet up at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel at Oscar's Bar for cocktails.  Oscar's tagline is Beef * Booze * Broads.  While I was there to only sample one of their offerings, I couldn't help by giggle.  And they did a great job on that count, too.  Oscar's made a tasty, well-balanced Sidecar.  The mixologists even gave the Monkey Gland cocktail a try and did a decent job.

My Brian at Oscar's

Afterwards, we wandered Freemont Street and settled in at the Gold Nugget's aquarium bar for more chatting and one more round.  The aquarium was gorgeous, but the Sidecars were just a little too sweet.

Gold Nugget
Jeff & Brian S.
Yours truly, Cat & Theresa
In hindsight, I wish that I had scheduled more of our free time at Freemont Street.  It was the classic Vegas "strip" back in the day.  It had just the right mix of tacky, naughty, and suave.

The birthday celebrations began at 3:00pm on Saturday at a Casa Fuente, a cigar bar in the Forum Shops.  Here we all raised a glass to celebrate Jeff's birthday.  I enjoyed a Jimi Hendricks cocktail.  Hendricks gin, Lillet Blanc, simple syrup and white grape garnish.  Though a touch too sweet, it was one of the better cocktails of the evening.

Casa Fuente

Jeff and his "minion" cap
Theresa, Kristina, Kerri

While I abstained from purchasing a cigar, those who did enjoyed them.  I, instead, stuck to smoking my ladies vintage pipe.  It's a gorgeous red bakelite pipe with a corncob bowl.  It has a darling rhinestone embellishment on the stem.  Perfect accessory for my cherry dress.

Smoking section
At 5:30pm we all convened at Vesper in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  I was very much looking forward to this bar as their menu features classic cocktails and the bar's own interpretations of those cocktails.  Alas, the drinks and the service were a disappointment.  My Corpse Reviver #2 was only okay (and I had to ask for the classic stemless cherry garnish).  Other cocktails were barely drinkable, and the service was painfully, unnecessarily slow for a mostly-empty bar with five mixologists.  Thankfully we didn't let the bar dampen our celebrations of Brent's birthday too much.  Brent's cheerful, goofy attitude was infectious and we laughed--a LOT--as we continued our celebration.

Brent goofs off
After Vesper, we were free for dinner and a change of clothing.  (It was at this time that I left my camera back at our room.  Thank goodness others had cameras!)  We met up at 8:30 at the steakhouse Smith & Wollensky to celebrate Brian S's big day.  Brian's father had called ahead and reserved a private room for our party, which was probably for the best as we all continued to be boisterous.

The food and deserts were amazing, but the drinks were unfortunate.  My Sidecar was made without fresh lemon juice and their Negroni featured a very strong dry vermouth taste that was off-putting.  Clearly this was a place for wine, not cocktails, so I enjoyed a lovely muscato with my creme brule.  It was a perfect combination.

While here, Mark and Cara used their Polaroid 100 Land camera to take portraits of us all.  Ironically, I had picked up a Polaroid 100 weeks ago, too.  Great minds and all that.  But Mark and Cara were smart enough to pick up a flash kit with the camera, which I did not.  All attempted photos taken indoors with my camera were just too dark.

Brent & Kristina
Carol Ann & Kerri
Cara & Mark
Cat & Jeff
Yours truly & Brian M.
Theresa & Brian S.
The boys
After Smith & Wollensky, we were off to finish off the birthday celebrations by raising a pint to my dapper fella, Brian M.  Where else to toast an Irishman for his birthday?  Why, Nine Fine Irishmen in New York, New York, of course!

Scrunchy face and the birthday boy

Never forget your towel!
With the birthday celebrations finished, we wandered the Strip for a brief moment before deciding that it was time to call it a night.  My Brian, Cat, Jeff and I followed Theresa and Brian back to their hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, for a night cap in their bar.  A gorgeous view, a great Negroni and a quiet end to the night.  Perfect.

The following day we decided to be lazy and lounge around our room (and enjoy the jacuzzi) before it was time to head back home.  It was a great way to top off the weekend.

My daughter's favorite thing from the weekend: jacuzzi tub

A few final observations:

  • When dressed in Rat Pack era finery, expect to be gawked at and commented to all weekend.  Most comments will be complimentary, but you will get the occasional weird one.  Weirdest one of the weekend: being called Mary Poppins.  ???
  • Drinks on the Strip are not nearly as strong as drinks on Freemont Street.  That said, while I drank a LOT, I was never more than buzzed.  
  • Evil Dead: the Musical, in 4D--oh, if only I had known and been able to schedule time to see it.
  • The idea of a 40 foot tall stripper is much more interesting than the actual thing.
  • Alas, I only saw one working girl while in Vegas--but, boy howdy! was she a sight.  Bolted on boobs, inflated lips, bleach blonde hair, and a feather boa!  Oh, and she thought we all looked great, too.
HUGE THANKS to Kristina Gundersen-Rudmann and Cara Zitny for additional photos!!

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