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Las Vegas: 'Iron Chef' buddies open concept lounge-bar-kitchen counter called Libertine Social

Las Vegas: 'Iron Chef' buddies open concept lounge-bar-kitchen counter called Libertine Social
Ahi cones, one of the appetizers at Libertine Social, begin with marinated ahi that is then topped with a whipped peppercorn crème fraiche. (MGM Resorts)

Eating your way through Las Vegas? Here's a new gastropub from two "Iron Chef America" alums that celebrates unrestrained pleasure in the form of distinctive cocktails and plates.

Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay provides guests with a surprising array of places in which to enjoy creative cocktails and unique food choices.

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Chef Shawn McClain conceived of a new type of bar-restaurant a few years ago. His vision has become Libertine Social, which opened in August at Mandalay Bay.
Chef Shawn McClain conceived of a new type of bar-restaurant a few years ago. His vision has become Libertine Social, which opened in August at Mandalay Bay. (MGM Resorts)

Chef Shawn McClain, who came up with the concept several years ago, explained that Libertine Social is a departure from the typical concept of "one dining area with an adjacent bar."

"The idea is to craft your own experience," he says. "There are so many different ways to experience it. We've got a front lounge, we've got a big bar, we've got a middle-ish lounge, we have a kitchen counter, a dining room, a patio [and] a back arcade bar."

Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim pours a freshly-created cocktail at Libertine Social.
Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim pours a freshly-created cocktail at Libertine Social. (MGM Resorts)

Curating the drinks is celebrity mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, who met McClain when they were paired together on Food Network's "Iron Chef America" in 2014. McClain says they've been good friends ever since.

"When 'Iron Chef' came about, I was nervous as all-get-out to do the show. But he [Tony] was definitely a calming force. He had done it once before," McClain recalls. "I kind of remember him saying, 'Let's have fun with this.' "

Libertine Social, a new restaurant concept at Mandalay Bar, contains several areas for drinking and dining to suit guests' various desires.
Libertine Social, a new restaurant concept at Mandalay Bar, contains several areas for drinking and dining to suit guests' various desires. (MGM Resorts)

The joint venture, which opened in August, demonstrates Abou-Ganim's penchant for new spins on cocktails. The namesake Libertine ($16) is a blend of Tito's Handmade Vodka, Campari, limoncello, orange juice, seltzer water and egg white. For group get-togethers, pitchers of the Queen's Park Swizzle ($58) are made from Eldorado 15-year-old rum, demerara sugar, lime juice, spearmint and Angostura bitters.

The food menu encourages noshing and full-on meals. McClain's ahi tuna cones ($16) are topped with whipped pink peppercorn crème fraiche. The strawberry gazpacho ($15) incorporates king crab, avocado and hearts of palm.

The "largers," as bigger plates are called, include harissa-rubbed mussels ($24) and whole Petaluma chicken ($34). Fresh fish (market price) and flat-iron steaks ($41) are cooked on a wood-fire grill.

Libertine Social is open daily for drinks from 3-11 p.m. Dinner service starts at 5.

Info and reservations: Libertine Social, (702) 632-7558

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