A BOOZY DOOZY: Making the world’s largest mixed drink at the Palms gets money pouring in to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Curiously counterintuitive, don’t ya’ think?

Raising money to combat the insidious, memory-sapping Alzheimer’s disease by pouring a massive, world-record-smashing vat of gin and tonic one night — enough for a massive, world-record-smashing hangover the next morning, when no one can remember it ever happened?

Yet therein lies its genius, because accomplishing the feat — which brought in $10,000-plus for the Keep Memory Alive organization in support of the Cleveland Clinic-Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health — was a night to remember. Sober or otherwise.

And whatever motivates an evening of social elbow-bending doesn’t matter given this evening’s charitable raison d’etre — even if, ironically, it’s people who drink to forget.

“Indeed they do!” admits Livio Lauro, co-founder of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, Las Vegas Chapter, the co-sponsor of the event at the Palms Casino-Resort. “But this is also for the caregivers (of Alzheimer’s patients) because it’s the caregivers who do all the work, sometimes for many years, so maybe they need a drink once in a while.”

“With all of our help… . We’ll be able to live our lives, take care of our families and have great memories.” — Larry Ruvo, Keep Memory Alive
Agreed — and they wouldn’t want for one (or a dozen) here at the Palms’ sky-high Apex Social Club, where you could even get a good buzz at a stand offering gin-flavored cotton candy.

Gazing out over a spectacular Strip-wide nighttime vista from the patio, patrons sipped wine and cocktails for several hours while taking turns pouring bottles of Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin into an acrylic, “food-safe,” 300-gallon container. Goal: Enter the Guinness World Records for creating the largest alcoholic mixed drink … ever.

While it could have been any mixed drink, Vegas opted for a gin and tonic to top all gin and tonics — eventually to be shared by everyone in attendance. (Ergo, the tap-spout at the bottom of this Land of the Giants-size bucket-o’-booze, stirred by an oversize, sanitized, stainless steel mixer.)

Michael Empric, center, of Guinness World Records awards the official certificate title for Largest Gin and Tonic to, from left, Kevin McCracken, Larry Ruvo, Dan Pettit and Dr. Marwan Sabbagh at the Apex Social Club at Palms Casino & Resort on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2018. (Jeff Ragazzo)

Patrons shelled out $50 per bottle of Empress they could pour into the vat to join the effort to obliterate the previous record of 181 gallons, set at a London food festival last June. Exhorting them on was host Chet Buchanan of KLUC-FM 98.5.

After three hours (surely the longest that Vegas revelers ever stared at a gin and tonic without quaffing it down), the numbers were in, crowning Vegas the new Grand Exalted Pooh-Bah of Mixed-Drink Makers. (And triggering cheers and the blasting of “We Are the Champions” over the loudspeaker):

  • 249.99 gallons of gin and tonic — the spillage of one bottle of tonic water separating the new record from the magical 250-gallon mark.
  • Approximately 390 bottles poured, each containing 25.4 ounces of gin.
  • Tonic water added: 165 gallons.
  • Lime juice mixed in: 5.5 gallons.

“This is an incredible undertaking, a lot of gin, a lot of tonic, it’s been a great day! And doing it in this amazing spot, looking out over the Strip, it’s exactly the kind of place you’d want to do this!” exclaims Michael Empric, adjudicator for Guinness World Records. After the addition of a giant ice lime wedge, Empric took the final measurement and declared the new record in the festive, 55th-floor celebration.

“People always think of Guinness World Records as being fun and frivolous, but when you add the charitable fund-raising element into it, it makes something everyone can get behind. It’s this crazy attempt while raising money for people who really need it.”

Look — there’s a quartet of sultry sirens from Luxor’s sexy Fantasy who dumped in the gin! And there’s Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Nevada honcho Michael Severino. And celebrity chef Rick Moonen, and the Aussie Heat studs and magician Xavier Mortimer. And … dozens more.

Many have their own pour-panache. Several examples spotted during the evening, as people marched up a platform to contribute to the high tower of hooch:

  • The High-Dive Pour (bottle held aloft for showoff-y effect).
  • The My-Pour-Is-Higher-Than-Your-Pour Pour (“Oh, yeah? Well, watch this!”).
  • The Circular Swirl Pour (round … and round … and round … the bottle goes).
  • The Crisscross-Here-Comes-the-Sauce Pour (two bottles at once, hand-over-hand, creating miniature dancing fountains of booze).
  • The Good-to-the-Last-Drop, Bottle-Draining, Pour-Your-Heart-Out-Till-You-Can’t-Pour-No-More Pour (waste not, want not!).
  • The Start-and-Stop-and-Start-Again Pour (heightening dramatic effect).
  • The Stop-to-Take-a-Selfie Pour (well, of course — it’s 2018, isn’t it?).
  • The Rocky Balboa Arms-Thrust-Skyward-End-with-a-Flourish Pour (“Yo, Adrian, I poured it! I poured it!”).
  • The Synchronized Swimmer Pour (two bottles, each emptied at exactly the same speed).
  • The Get-Yer-Paws-Off-My-Pour Pour (four people all grabbing the same bottle to get in on the action).
  • The Four-on-the-Floor Pour (“Drain it! Drain it! Faster! Faster!”).

Since the mass of imbibers couldn’t be expected to sip, gulp and guzzle every last swig from the 249.99-gallon tub in a single evening, the remaining gin and tonic was tagged for the casino floor. Making the drink? That was the simple part.

The Guinness World Records official Largest Gin and Tonic at the Apex Social Club at Palms Casino & Resort on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2018. (Jeff Ragazzo)

“Gin and tonic is made of one part gin, two parts tonic, whether it’s a gallon to two gallons or a hundred to 200 gallons,” says Lauro. Designated drivers were also on hand to “check everybody like hawks,” take any unsteady partiers home, and park their cars in their garages. “We can’t fix the headache (the next morning), but your car is there and you’re safe at home.”

Once the record had been smashed — or, more accurately, washed away — it was Larry Ruvo, chairman and co-founder of Keep Memory Alive, who put the achievement in perspective as he saluted the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

“This is the tsunami of our lifetime,” Ruvo told the crowd. “Your parents and great-grandparents dealt with polio. They eradicated it. The only difference between a person with polio in the ’50s and a person with Alzheimer’s today is that those people were locked into an iron lung, but they had caregivers 24/7. Well, there are no iron lungs today because they found a cure for that disease. With all of our help, none of us will be caregivers. We’ll be able to live our lives, take care of our families and have great memories.”

Let’s drink to that.

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