Lake Tahoe Hard Rock Hotel’s The Oyster Bar debuts drink-pairing menu | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe Hard Rock Hotel’s The Oyster Bar debuts drink-pairing menu

Though The Oyster Bar may identify itself as primarily Creole cuisine, the two-year-old restaurant's new drink menu takes guests on a round-the-world tour with carefully chosen beverages that highlight the fresh seafood fare.

"If you sit down and order a dozen oysters and chase it with a nice cold sake, it was like it was supposed to be there. It's like the oyster was sitting in the sake in the shell — that's how well it pairs," said Peter Vitolo, beverage manager at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe.

From Japan, the menu jumps across the globe to Mexico.

Michelada, a spicy Mexican drink made with lager, lime juice and Bloody Mary mix, will pair well with the restaurant's pan roasts or seafood boils — all of which are cooked right in front of customers by chef Andrew Anderson.

"It's all about freshness," said Anderson, who took over as head chef nine months ago. "I get oysters every two days. Most restaurants get them every five days."

The bar-seating and the fact that the restaurant opens up to the hustle and bustle of the casino floor all add to unique vibe of the restaurant.

"I always hear, 'I came here for a drink and six-dozen oysters later," said Anderson.

Though the oysters are a big draw, the restaurant also features classics like cioppino, bouillabaisse, jambalaya, linguine and clams, gumbo, and steamed mussels.

"Each dish has its own sauce that we make, so nothing is pre-made," said Anderson.

Both Anderson and Vitolo hope customers will choose their drink with food in mind.

"It's all about the accompaniment," said Vitolo. "Our Creole Punch — a New Orleans-style cocktail with bourbon — is great to go with our bouillabaisse or cioppino."

A carefully curated selection of French and California wines designed to accompany seafood are also highlighted on the new drink menu.

"The Miraval Rosé, which is a Provence-style Rosé, is a really nice summertime drink. It would go great with our green salad with shrimp Louie on top or the shrimp cocktail," added Vitolo.

As for beers, Vitolo went with lighter options to accent the cuisine. Scrimshaw Czech Pilsner, Hoegaarden White Ale, and a seasonal selection of Sierra Nevada will be on tap.

To cap the meal — or even to kick it off — chef Anderson recommends an oyster shooter: a freshly-shucked oyster swimming in a shot of vodka, beer, Bloody Mary mix, or tequila and lime.

"You won't find any seafood fresher than ours in Lake Tahoe," added Anderson.