Advertisement

Summerlin vodka brand celebrates spirit of Las Vegas

Bookmark this
March 11, 2020 By Al Mancini

It was about 10 months ago that Jennifer Higgins and Megan Wilkes introduced their baby to the city that inspired it.

“May 10 was Vegas Uncork’d,” recalls Higgins who, along with Wilkes, conceived of, created and owns the Summerlin-based Vegas Baby Vodka. But, she notes, that wasn’t the only event she and her partner had on their schedule that evening, which came just two days after Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits signed on to distribute the brand.

“We had committed to be at Uncork’d at the Grand Tasting, and we committed to do JDRF (Hope Gala) the same night. We were so excited.”

The pair estimate they poured about 1,800 shots between the two events, with a little help from some family members. It set the stage for the months that followed, during which they’ve seized any opportunity to get their vodka in front of as many people as possible.

“We’re at every event,” Higgins said recently, over sips of vodka at Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria, which has been offering Vegas Baby in its cocktails since last June. “We’re putting up the displays in the Luxor by ourselves. We are hands-on at every activation. We are the face and the promoter of Vegas Baby.”

That personal touch has yielded impressive results. Vegas Baby became available to the public at local liquor stores in July. Since then, it’s made its way to retailers across the Las Vegas Valley, and onto bar shelves in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Station Casinos and MGM Resorts properties. And as pool season kicks into gear, they’re enthusiastically working with hotel mixologists to create drinks for the cabana and daybed crowds. Not bad for a couple of newcomers to the highly competitive spirits market.

Vegas Baby is a local story inspired by Higgins’ frequent trips to Austin to visit her daughter at the University of Texas.

“I got to meet a couple of the bigwigs who own some big spirit companies in Austin,” she says of her early visits in fall 2017.

“In Austin, the local support (for local businesses) is huge. You can’t be in the airport unless you’re a local. Restaurant, vendor, bar — you have to be local. And as I was leaving, and coming into Las Vegas, coming down this escalator a sign just says ‘Liquor Store.’ And I was like ‘Huh.’ ”

At the time, the valley was embracing the brand-new Golden Knights, after rallying together in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre. Higgins and Wilkes thought they could contribute to that growing sense of community pride.

“I just thought that would be a perfect time to bring on a local brand, something that we could get behind, and the town could get behind,” Higgins says.

One of the first things they did was lock down a name that would capture the spirit of the city. At the time, #VegasBaby had over 6 million mentions on Instagram but was still unclaimed as a trademark for spirits.

“Vegas Baby vodka — it really did roll right off the tongue,” Wilkes says.

After deciding on vodka as their first spirit (“We love our Cosmos,” Higgins says), they partnered with Dry Hills Distillery in Bozeman, Montana, to create the drink. After taste-testing various recipes with friends, they opted for a corn vodka with a smooth, neutral flavor. The packaging, however, would be anything but neutral. The name is emblazoned in bright red on an ornate black and silver front label, with the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign visible to those who peer through the clear glass from the reverse.

“We are from Las Vegas and we love the whole vintage (style),” Wilkes explains. “And we really went back to the old vintage Frank Sinatra days.”

As Vegas Baby grows, its founders think it can spread to other states, and perhaps even other spirits. For now, however, they’re concentrating on making the vodka synonymous with the valley they call home.

“We want to be in every place in Las Vegas,” Higgins says. “We want to be Las Vegans’ brand that they are proud of, and that they can just be in a bar and be like, ‘Do you have Vegas Baby?’ I want to hear that all the time. I just want to know that that brand is …”

“A household name,” Wilkes chimes in.

“Yeah,” echoes her friend and partner, “A household name.”


Recent Articles

The Who moves Las Vegas Strip dates to fall

The Who moves Las Vegas Strip dates to fall

in Entertainment News

The Who’s out of their upcoming Las Vegas Strip dates, but the legendary rock band says the party will resume this year.

March 30, 2020 By John Katsilometes

RJ offering free platform to businesses amid coronavirus closures

RJ offering free platform to businesses amid coronavirus closures

in News

To help businesses weather the economic storm brought on by the novel coronavirus, the Review-Journal is launching an initiative called “RJ Business Updates.”

March 23, 2020 By Briana Erickson

MGM Resorts tells Las Vegas shows be ready for mid-May return

MGM Resorts tells Las Vegas shows be ready for mid-May return

in Entertainment News, News

MGM Resorts International officials have notified shows to be ready to return by mid-May.

March 23, 2020 By John Katsilometes

NAB not rescheduling 2020 show in Las Vegas

NAB not rescheduling 2020 show in Las Vegas

in News

The National Association of Broadcasters announced Friday it will not be rescheduling 2020’s Las Vegas show.

March 23, 2020 By Nicole Raz

Advertisement

Must Read Articles

Slots player hits $1.2M jackpot on Las Vegas Strip

Slots player hits $1.2M jackpot on Las Vegas Strip

A $5 investment paid off richly for one Las Vegas Strip slots player. The player won a $1,264,574 jackpot playing the Wheel of Fortune Wild Red Sevens slots at The Venetian.

March 9, 2020 By Tony Garcia

What’s canceled or closed due to coronavirus? Updated for shows, schools, business, sports

What’s canceled or closed due to coronavirus? Updated for shows, schools, business, sports

in News

Monday, March 16: The coronavirus outbreak continues to cause closures and changes. Clark County reported the first death linked to the virus. The new cases bring the state total to 45.

March 17, 2020 By Rhonda Prast

Raiders owner Mark Davis plans dinner for 12K at Allegiant Stadium

Raiders owner Mark Davis plans dinner for 12K at Allegiant Stadium

in News

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis is making a dinner reservation for about 12,000 in August at Allegiant Stadium.

March 11, 2020 By John Katsilometes

Advertisement