As an avid traveler, I love trying new foods and drinks wherever I go. This past year, to celebrate my 40th birthday, I went to Las Vegas. A fellow guest at one of the bars in the Aria mentioned there are a few secret, off the menu drinks at The Cosmopolitan. Needless to say, I decided to investigate, all in the name of research for future books, of course.
Me and with a few of my nearest and dearest took a short walk to the beautiful, ultra-modern hotel. Instead of loitering to gawk at the interior, I made a beeline to the third floor of the Chandelier Bar and ordered the secret, hush hush drink, Verbena.
When the bartender placed the drink in front of me, it didn’t look very scary. It looked like a pretty margarita with a flower on top.
The flower was the part of the drink we all should have feared! It is known as the “Szechuan Button” but also goes by many other names, including “buzz button,” “toothache plant,” and its scientific name, Acmella oleracea.
We were told to take a sip of the cocktail, nibble on the flower for a few seconds (30 to be exact), and then sip our drink again.
Well, once we followed the directions, it was all over. First, I couldn’t stop salivating. Seriously, it was the strangest sensation. Then my tongue felt like it had pins and needles, followed by a numbing sensation of my whole mouth. In other words, it was total sensory overload for my mouth and taste buds. The drink went from a regular cocktail to something undesirable, every flavor in the drink enhanced, from the tartness of the lemon to the sweetness of the mixer.
I drank the remainder of my cocktail, nibbling on the flower after each sip and feeling as if I was on a crazy rollercoaster of flavors.
It took a good forty minutes for my mouth to calm down back to its normal ho hum ways. Now I can say, I checked of trying a crazy cocktail in Sin City. If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, make sure to venture out and try the Verbena. Your taste buds will thank you! Or say what the **** did you do to me.