From stiff martinis to free-flowing bottle-service vodka to popping champagne over an extravagant dinner, you’ll never go thirsty in Las Vegas. Now you can add banana whiskey to the mix thanks to Ambros founder Jeff Tomastik, who had the crazy idea to infuse the tropical fruit into the brown spirit.
Before Tomastik got into the banana booze business, he built a career in Vegas nightlife starting in 2011 and eventually worked his way up to become a VIP marketing executive for Hakkasan Group, whose clubs include Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, Omnia at Caesars Palace, and 1 OAK at the Mirage. “Las Vegas nightlife really taught me some of the greatest skills when it comes to hospitality, marketing, and guest relations that are key in successfully running any F&B business,” he says. It wasn’t long until he managed to translate those skills into his own endeavors.
“I have never been artistic but always had a desire to create,” he admits. “Developing brands and products are my way of showing that creativity. When I turned 30, my entrepreneurial spirit really took over.” As he was transitioning from his role as a marketing executive in 2016, he set out to create Ambros. In the meantime, in 2017, he launched Tail & Fin, a fast-casual sushi burrito and poke bowl spot at T-Mobile Arena, where the Vegas Golden Knights play.
Tomastik has witnessed nightlife evolve over the past eight years from a heavily DJ-driven, bottle-service experience to one of more midsize clubs and lounges on the scene that concentrate on craft cocktails rather than how much premium vodka they can sling. And he thinks that now is a great time for new flavors to make their mark.
Ambros is short for ambrosia, which means “something especially good to taste,” he explains. “Whiskey is usually defined by where it comes from or how old it is, but Ambros is defined by being able to deliver truly authentic flavor into spirits.” Produced in Henderson, Nevada, it’s the first spirit on the market that uses 100 percent real fruit, with no artificial flavors, added syrups, or sugars. Each batch requires more than 50,000 fresh, hand-peeled Cavendish bananas from Ecuador or Costa Rica that are infused into a relatively young Irish whiskey, aged only about three years. The proprietary infusion takes about two weeks, and the result is a wonderful surprise.
Too often people associate banana-flavored anything with it being too cloying or fake-flavored. Ambros delivers a fresh, mild banana splash that tames the whiskey. Several Strip spots have even given the spirit of a life of its own. “Many mixologists loved the new challenge in delivering a cocktail featuring banana whiskey,” he reports. Seersucker at Caesars Palace offers the Bananas Foster Old Fashioned, which involves Ambros, brown sugar, baking spices, and bitters, while Yellowtail at the Bellagio features the fresh Banana Blossom, accompanying the whiskey with peach liqueur, lime, and lychee.
Or you can be like Tomastik and simply enjoy Ambros on the rocks. “The versatility attracts drinkers who otherwise may not normally drink whiskey, while at the same time, we find that many whiskey drinkers enjoy it as well,” he says.
Main Photo By: Tony Tran