A cocktail alchemist, Mariena Mercer Boarini has been experimenting with molecular mixology since 2007. She creates multi-sensory experiences complete with “cham-feign” foams, show-stopping edible garnishes and liquid nitrogen flourishes. Mercer Boarini, who has won a number of cocktail competitions, was named property mixologist for the Wynn Las Vegas resort in March 2021.
What was your first job in the beverage or hospitality industry?
Tequila Goddess. Right after my 21st birthday, I was sent to the town of Tequila [Mexico] to study tequila in different distilleries. Upon my return to the states, I oversaw the largest tequila selection in Las Vegas, at the time. Tequila will always be my first love, and was certainly the impetus for my spirited career.
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
Aperitifs. I love the romance, the nuance of flavors and versatility.
What’s your current go-to cocktail or beverage?
I’m in a rather healthful part of my life, so iced matcha tea is my current staple. I like to throw in lemon verbena or mint with a splash of agave.
You’re known as a cocktail alchemist who creates cocktails that are multi-sensory experiences. What are some of the fun things you’ve done with drinks recently?
If Picasso had his “blue” period, I’m in my aromatic period. I’m obsessed with the way to manipulate the way we perceive flavor through aromatics. Eighty-percent of flavor is said to come from the olfactory receptors, which can be so overlooked in cocktail experiences.
For Overlook Lounge, Spirits & Aperitifs, our newest cocktail destination at Wynn, I designed a line of “edible aperitif parfums” inspired by different glamorous locales: Milan, Amalfi, Morocco and Paris. Each parfum is misted from a vintage atomizer atop a spritz cocktail, giving it an aromatic identity and layering in flavors and creating a multi-sensory experience.
Any advice or tips for new bartenders or home mixologists who want to add some flair to their cocktails?
I love helping bartenders expand their line of syrups, beyond “simple.” Adding in a jam, an herb, or a medley of dried spices or teas can give such interesting flavors to a cocktail. It’s also the easiest thing, with the largest flavor ROI.
What’s it like to work at a resort in Las Vegas?
Every day is an adventure in Las Vegas. I adore working in resorts, as I get to meet the most fascinating guests every day that are looking to explore new cocktails and have exciting experiences. As an artist, you couldn’t ask for a better platform.
Would you share one of the most popular at Wynn, or one of your favorite drink recipes?
The Aurora from Overlook lounge is such an exercise of beauty in simplicity, and it is super easy to replicate at home.