After mixing drinks in swanky bars in Las Vegas, Denver, and now at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Daniel Thomas compiled his recipes for Dan, Dan the Beverage Man: Bartending Guide, Favorite Cocktails, Original Recipes & Classic Cocktails.
“A lot [of the recipes] were written on bar napkins,” he says. He hung on to those napkins, which served as a basis for his book. About 30 of the 65 recipes are his own, including a chocolate strawberry martini and the 27th Floor.
Of the latter, he recalls, “I was going to work, getting gas. They didn’t have any regular coffee. They had froufrou coffee.” Back on the road, inspiration struck when he thought, “I want to make a drink that tastes like this.”
Thomas emphasizes the use of fresh and local ingredients. For Fantasy Springs’ POM restaurant, he created a date martini (fresh dates muddled with simple syrup, black strap rum, and 1554 Belgian ale with a hint of chocolate) and cactus cosmopolitan (insides or purée of prickly pear cactus, vodka, orange-flavored liqueur, and squeezed lime).
Thomas began his career at the age of 18 as a deputy sheriff for Holmes County, Ohio; at 21, became a juvenile court chief probation officer; and then worked as a legal investigator for the attorney general. In 1995, he moved to Las Vegas, where he pursued a restaurant career, eventually working as assistant beverage manager in banquets at Bellagio. In 2005, he moved to Denver, where he opened the Strata and 27th Floor bars at the Hyatt Regency. Two and a half years ago, he moved to the desert. As beverage manager for Fantasy Springs, he oversees 11 bars and all beverage service for the casino floor.
The casino gift shop sells the cocktail recipe book for $10, with all proceeds benefiting local YMCA programs.
3/4 oz. Navan (vanilla-based cognac)
3/4 oz. Godiva chocolate
1/2 oz. Bailey’s
1/4 oz. Nocello (Italian walnut liqueur
1 1/2 oz.
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocoa-sugar rim.