At Bartolotta, your postmeal potable is no afterthought.
Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare’s after-dinner beverage cart.
The last thing you taste each evening should be as delicious and well-made as the first. That’s the European notion at work at Wynn’s Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, and it’s reflected in the beverage list, overseen by Wine Manager Miklos Katona, who will guide you to the most glorious nightcaps from around the globe. “Even for me,” Katona says, “it’s eye-opening to see the selection here of fortified wines, amari, and grappas.”
While after-dinner drinks are considered a little indulgence in the US, they’re not a habit for most diners in this country. A night with Katona will change that way of thinking. “It’s social, it’s history, and it’s geography,” he says. “Cordials are a very complex subject.” Along with Wynn Wine Director Mark Thomas, Katona carefully curates Bartolotta’s wine list so it accords with the restaurant’s rarefied character. “Here we are very unique,” he adds. “We fly in live crustaceans and fish from the Mediterranean three to four times a week. I wanted the beverage and after-dinner programs to match up with that.”
For Katona, that meant going deep and rare. Indeed, some of the bottles behind the bar at Bartolotta simply cannot be found anywhere else in the United States; some are hard to track down even in their home countries. That’s why getting a primer on postprandial spirits, liqueurs, and fortified wines is an absolute must here: It’s a kind of journey to the countries that produce them, without having to leave your table.
Take Katona’s favorite amaro, Varnelli Amaro Sibilla, from the Marche region of Italy. “This is a very rare style of amaro,” he says. “The cool thing about it: When they collect the herbs, roots, and other botanicals from the Sibillini Mountains, they use an open fire to warm them up, so this amaro tastes sort of smoky. Most amari use caramel as a sweetening agent and to make it darker. For Sibilla, they use local honey.”
Think grappa is firewater? Katona will show you a different side. “We serve vintage 1998 Berta ‘Tresolitre’ grappa—very rare, very small production. It spends 10 years in oak barrels that were used for Nebbiolo. It’s a whole new level of grappa. We have others that have spent 15 to 22 years in oak.”
And port? Consider the 1985 vintage Dow’s, one of the most revered port houses in the world, owned by the Symington family in Portugal for generations. “Of a port house’s total production, only 1 to 3 percent is vintage port,” Katona explains. “In every decade, maybe they make three. This port has a lot of darker fruit notes—figs, prunes—and a dark chocolate character, too. It’s amazing.”
If you can’t decide what to sip, Katona will offer one of Bartolotta’s trio samples of Madeira or grappa, demonstrating in three styles what there is to love about these often misunderstood lovelies of the liquor spectrum.
“People love when we talk about history and how it’s related to the cuisine,” Katona says. “It’s a memorable experience.”