One night, during dinner service, a guest asked wine angel Eboni Lomax for a huge favor.
Would she climb to the very top of the wine tower at Aureole, chef Charlie Palmer’s restaurant in Mandalay Bay, and hold a sign proposing marriage to his girlfriend?
She did. Even though their job is to scale the 42-foot wine tower and retrieve bottles of wine, marriage proposals are a frequent side duty performed by wine angels. This proposal took forever to unfold, though. While she waited at the top of the tower, dangling in front of 10,000 bottles of red wine, Lomax watched the couples sitting in the restaurant.
The romantic guest she was helping had neglected to put a name on the sign, so some women mistakenly thought the proposal was for them. Lomax looked on as their male dates tried to set the record straight.
“You should have seen their faces,” she recalls.
That was one of the funnier proposals Lomax has helped with during her 10 years at the restaurant. When you’re helping people get married, you might think your job has become an icon of the Vegas Experience.
You know it is when you’re interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, as Lomax and another wine angel were a few years ago. The show they appeared on was about unique dream jobs.
What could she possibly say on her resume, people ask her? Well, Lomax lists “wine attendant” and in parentheses writes “wine angel” on hers. It’s not like she has to explain what that is, though.
“Most people have already seen them,” Lomax says.
As far as chef Palmer knows, his restaurant is the first, and only, to employ wine angels, a label he came up with shortly after the restaurant opened.
The whole idea was born out of necessity. Palmer wanted an impressive display of wine, because wine would play a major role in Aureole. Designer Adam Tihany came up with a tower.
“When you think about it, it’s a really simple concept,” Palmer says. “It’s a vertical display of wine. It’s efficient.”
Sommeliers wear microphones in their ties and relay wine orders to the wine angels, who wear ear pieces. They then scale the tower using remote controlled harnesses. The whole thing is very cloak-and-dagger, not surprising when you learn that it was based on the movie “Mission Impossible.”
Remember the scene where Tom Cruise dangled by a harness and ropes?
“I envisioned very elegant ladies doing not an acrobatic performance but using finesse to go up and down in the tower,” Palmer says.
But the wine angels have become a show in their own right. Guests often order wine just to watch them retrieve it. To make them more visible, they will get new costumes by the end of summer. The wine angels now wear all-black, which is elegant. But they tend to blend in with the tower, Palmer says.
The new outfits were designed by Bunker Hill Bradley with Cobra Culture Fashion. He and his partner, Australian stylist Roselyn Poon, founded the local design firm about three years ago.
Bradley entered a competition between two other designers for the right to make the new wine angel uniform.
It’s a sleek jumpsuit featuring black, burgundies, reds and sunset colors, the various hues representing the colors of wine. And to help them stand out, Bradley added 100 light-emitting diode lights to each outfit.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.