One of Las Vegas’s most iconic cocktails, the Ono at the Wynn’s XS Nightclub, is all about over-the-top luxury. The cocktail for two costs a staggering $10,000 and features champagne that goes for some $500 per bottle, plus custom-designed glassware. The star ingredient is a rare cognac that retails for over $2,000 per shot: Rémy Martin Louis XVIII Black Pearl. Using the Black Pearl cognac as inspiration, XS devised a cocktail that would celebrate the cognac’s flavor and scarcity. The name of the drink was inspired by the Polynesian god Oro who, as legend has it, brought a black pearl to the princess of Bora Bora. XS GM Yannick Mugnier explains that the drink was designed with men and women in mind, so the Ono also comes with a set of cufflinks and a gold, diamond, and pearl necklace.
“The cocktail is not about making money,” Mugnier explains, “it’s about extravagance.” He says the cocktail has been a hit with “big winners” at the casino as well as customers looking for a special experience. So far about 25 have been sold since it was on the menu in 2009. The Ono isn’t only a drink, but a celebration within the club. Each order served generates quite a bit fanfare, with a procession of some 20 XS employees, a presentation of the bottle of Black Pearl, and sparklers. Mugnier says: “When you buy the cocktail, everybody knows you bought it.” Below, the elements of the Ono:
1. The Cognac
The inspiration ingredient for the Ono is also its star: Rémy Martin Louis XVIII Black Pearl cognac. It’s a limited edition cognac — only 786 bottles were produced — and Mugnier describes it as the producer’s “most premium.” The Black Pearl is an extraordinarily smooth blend of 12 different eaux de vie — each aged between 40 and 100 years — and there are tasting notes of passion fruit, honeysuckle, ginger, and nutmeg. Mugnier says that the retail value of the bottle is $60,000 – $100,000, with a shot going for about $2,500. XS does not sell Black Pearl by the shot, and Mugnier only buys decanters two at a time. Each of the two cocktails gets half an ounce.
2. The Champagne
The champagne in the Ono is also a rare and pricey product, Charles Heidsieck 1981 Champagne Charlie. Cocktail buyers receive the whole bottle unopened upon ordering the cocktail, which calls for about four ounces of champagne per glass. Mugnier explains that the “Reserve Charlie” is still extremely bubbly, despite being an older vintage, and has dried fruit flavors. Mugnier estimates that a bottle would retail for about $500, and says they are difficult to come by because “every bottle is worth keeping.” When XS decided to use the product they worked with a distributor to purchase as many bottles in the US that they could find, and Mugnier says that even now the club purchases the champagne whenever they find it. Mugnier adds that champagne ties into the nightclub setting, and also gives smoothness to the recipe.
3. The Rose Nectar
Another high-end ingredient, the Sence Rose Nectar the XS adds to the Ono is a syrup made from Kazanlak roses harvested in a three-week period from central Bulgaria. The pink rose nectar adds floral flavor and scent to the drink. Mugnier explains that it’s quite a strong flavor, so the Ono only contains a quarter ounce to keep the drink balanced.
4. The Fruit
Along with the components above, the cocktail has half an ounce of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a quarter of an ounce of apricot puree. Mugnier says the orange juice recalls a Mimosa, adding both bitterness and sweetness to the drink. XS purchases its apricot puree because they find it difficult to keep the seasonal fruit at the bar. The apricot adds its distinct flavors along with an amber color to the drink.
5. The Assembly
Mugnier describes the Ono assembly process as “very ceremonial.” When a patron orders the Ono, there is a procession of some 20 servers and sparklers so “everybody knows you bought it.” A manager carries the cognac in its original box (because of the liquor’s expense, the club prefers managers to carry it). A waitress carries and presents the champagne, and the assembly begins. The guest is presented with a tray full of custom glassware including two gold-rimmed Baccarat champagne flutes for the cocktail. On the tray are additional gold-rimmed shot glasses, which have the pre-measured orange juice, rose nectar, and apricot nectar. These are mixed together, then the cognac is poured into its own custom shot glass. It’s added to the two flutes, which are then topped off with champagne.
At this time guests are also presented with two pieces of custom-designed jewelry: a set of sterling silver Mont Blanc cufflinks and an 18K gold necklace with a black pearl and a diamond. The cufflinks have stingray skin and gold layered with an XS logo. The necklace was designed by a Las Vegas jeweler and also features a gold XS logo. The stingray skin ties into the ocean theme of the Ono’s name, and the black pearl is honor of the cognac. Ordering the expensive cocktail is a full-blown experience, and Mugnier explains that it’s really best for “people who like attention.”