On The Record unleashes ‘startenders’ program on Las Vegas Strip

On The Record is helping usher in a new era in beverage distribution. If it takes hold, those who sling drinks might find themselves on the side of Strip hotels, alongside such DJ headliners as Tiesto, The Chainsmokers and Calvin Harris.

OTR, Houston Hospitality’s new speakeasy and nightclub at the Park MGM, is presenting a bartender-in-residency program, in the same tenor of DJ residencies in nightclubs on and off the Strip. Yes, these are the top cocktail creators and personalities in the beverage universe.

These tenders of bar are to be featured at On The Record’s Vinyl Parlor as the club opens Dec. 28 with Lady Gaga’s official after-party celebrating her opening at Park Theater. Just announced is comic rap star Lil Dicky the as club’s New Year’s Eve headliner.

The “startender” lineup includes such prominent industry pros as Las Vegas’ Tony Abou-Ganim and Leo Robitschek of NoMad, also at Park MGM. In all, OTR will feature more than a dozen stars of the cocktail world from around the country. At OTR, the art is in matching the cocktail with appropriate mood and music.

Think George Thorogood’s “I Drink Alone” matched with a Jack Daniel’s and Coke, but more adventurous.

Talking Heads factor into the signature cocktails of OTR’s first “startenders.” Erick Castro of Polite Provisions in San Diego debuts Jan. 11-12 with his “Road to Nowhere” cocktail, which is Commerce Gin, lemon juice, pineapple juice, yellow Chartreuse, honey syrup, orange bitters and a couple dashes of Absinthe.

Jillian Vose of Dead Rabbit in Manhattan is next up Jan. 18-19 with “Psycho Killer,” a mix of Redbreast 12-year-old Irish whiskey, Absinthe, Campari, Giffard White Creme de Cacao and Giffard Banane.

On The Record founders Mark and Jonnie Houston are looking to transport guests to a nostalgic time and feeling … on their way to frivolity, of course.

“This is the venue that can celebrate what we love the most, which is matching music with creative cocktails,” Jonnie Houston says. “Some of the choices and song selections are going to be fun to watch.”

The Houston twins have their own favorite song-cocktail pairings. Mark likes a Mojito paired with any type of beach/surf music. “The Beach Boys, anything like that,” Houston says. “It depends on my mood, but a fun song and drink that transports me to a beach-like experience.”

Jonnie picks Don McLean’s “American Pie,” a favorite of both brothers, with an Old Fashioned. McLean issued a single and an album of that title in 1971.

“That was the first record we ever bought … our dad sent us to buy it, and his favorite drink was an Old Fashioned,” Jonnie Houston says. “It resonates for us.”

As for this non-drinker, I’ll opt for a simple Fizzy Water with a swing through “I Saw Her Standing There.” Just for the groove of it all.

Toys in the Elvis room

Like a runaway Lionel train, “The 10th Annual Toys for Tots Variety Show” is fast approaching. the event is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at the Westgate Las Vegas International Theater, once Elvis’s playground. The show is a benefit for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign. For tickets, drop off a new, unwrapped toy worth $20 or more to show sponsor Findlay Cadillac at 993 Auto Show Dr. in Henderson. Tickets are also available at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

As always, organizer L.J. Harness (who might be encouraged to play some drums) has built a robust lineup of entertainers: Robby Steinhardt and the Music of Kansas, Gordie Brown, Australian Bee Gees, Lon Bronson Band, David Perrico’s Pop Strings Orchestra, Sin City Kiss, Rob Garrett, Sam Riddle, Adrian Zmed, Shayma Tash, the cast of “Sexxy” and “Fantasy,” Todd Kerns, Noelle Chiodo, Murray Sawchuck & Lefty, Lily Perrico, Kenny Fletch, Lyssa Lynne, Serena Henry, Zowie Bowie and Mo5aic. In fitting with the theme, this crew knows how to play.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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