5 Mixologists Who Are Stirring Up The Las Vegas Cocktail Scene

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When it comes to Las Vegas libations, the city’s cup overflows with talented, taste-making mixologists. These fabulous fashioners of handcrafted alcoholic ecstasy have the training and vision to dazzle your taste buds, delight your senses and add a little pep to your step.

From new concoctions to old-school classics, here are five mixologists who are setting the Las Vegas liquor scene (and occasionally its cocktails) on fire.

Eric Hobbie

EricHobbie_FINALPhoto Credit: Anthony Mair

As the Corporate Intoxicologist for Andy Masi’s Clique Hospitality, Eric Hobbie opened APEX Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge earlier this year at the newly renovated Palms Casino Resort. There he creates avant-garde signature cocktails brimming with creativity and innovation—Drinks, like the Casamigos mezcal-based The Hef, which is garnished with crispy rice treats and cigar smoke. Or, the interactive Fire & Ice with jalapeno and sage-infused Bombay Sapphire gin and a house-made jalapeño cotton candy garnish.

“Guest gets to pour the cocktail over the cotton candy which will dissipate and mix with the cocktail before their very eyes,” says Hobbie about the Fire & Ice. “It doesn’t matter how old you are when you touch cotton candy you feel like a kid again, but our cotton candy bites back a little.”

The Fire and Ice cocktail is served at Camden Cocktail Lounge inside the Palms Casino Resort.
Fire and Ice

Photo Credit: Clique Hospitality

Hobbie grew up in the restaurant business in New York City and was later mentored by celebrity chefs like Rick Moonen, Charlie Trotter and Giada De Laurentiis. Helping open clubs in Las Vegas and New York, he was part of the team who opened Giada Las Vegas at The Cromwell on the Las Vegas Strip. His mixology skills have earned him many awards along with a coveted spot in Jack Daniel’s Black Book.

“The program at Camden will always be looking to stretch the imagination further; nothing is impossible,” says Hobbie. “We want our guests to leave wondering how we do what we do. We want our brand to linger on their minds.” As for Apex on the 55th floor, he says, “our view matches the beauty of our cocktails. The ambiance and the flavors are not to be missed.”


Andrew Pollard

501962Photo Credit: Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

Master mixologist Andrew Pollard oversees cocktail menu development and beverage programming at the 27 bars, lounges and restaurants inside Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas. He also teaches cocktail-related master classes for the resorts. Formerly a beverage development specialist with Breakthru Beverage Nevada, Pollard’s creations have been featured at Strip hotels like The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, neighborhood bars and local music festivals.

One of Pollard’s first projects when joining Wynn was recreating the resort’s signature cocktail. Originally called The Dream, his reimagined Le Rêve cocktail (named for the Wynn’s aquatic and gravity-defying show Le Rêve – The Dream) is made with Lillet Rosé, Jouët Brut Champagne, Giffard Pamplemousse Rosé, Aperol apricot liqueur and fresh lemon juice, then topped with a spritz of elderflower perfume, and garnished with rose petal, caviar and gold leaf.

le reve
Le Rêve cocktail

Photo Credit: Jeff Green

Pollard recently created a brand new cocktail menu for Wynn’s seasonally-inspired Sunday Jazz Brunch at Lakeside. Highlights include a refreshing Pineapple-Mango Mimosa (fresh-pressed sugarloaf pineapple juice, Giffard passionfruit liqueur, prosecco and honey-mango lime sour) and a decadent Horchata Colada (Stoli Salted Karamel vodka, Rumchata horchata liqueur, Lustau Oloroso sherry and coconut-almond milk). As beautiful as they are delicious, they go down smooth with the delicious, seasonally-inspired pre-fixe brunch to the sounds of the David “Mojo” Poe Dixieland-style jazz ensemble and amazing views of the Lake of Dreams.

Earlier this summer, Pollard shared with Haute Living that he is in the process of changing several beverage concepts for what he describes as a progressive, unique and diverse program at Wynn and Encore.

“Something we are particularly excited about is the direction for the new Wing Lei cocktail menu, which provides an emphasis of Chinese ingredients in each unique offering.” Highlights range from “a Scotch old-fashioned infused with bourbon vanilla rooibos tea, Oloroso sherry and Angostura bitters to a touch of Tiki with báijiǔ, aged cachaça, passionfruit, pineapple and oolong tea.”


Craig Schoettler

Park MGM Juniper Cocktail Lounge Craig SchoettlerPhoto Credit: Courtesy MGM Resorts International

As Executive Director of Beverage at MGM Resorts International, Craig Schoettler leads all corporate beverage initiatives for the company’s portfolio of national and international resorts. You may have heard about the $25,000 Indian Sidecar cocktail he concocted for MGM Springfield or perhaps his Bardot Cosmopolitan, created when actress Sarah Jessica Parker previewed her SJP Collection Pop-Up Boutique at The Shops at Crystals a couple years ago, fashioned after her iconic drink on “Sex and the City.”

Schoettler’s first role with MGM Resorts was as the property mixologist at Aria Resort & Casino. There he was credited by many for redefining the Vegas cocktail scene thanks to his progressive techniques and pioneering style, which introduced drinks like the Smoke Missing Mirrors, served at James Beard award-winning chef Shawn McClain’s Sage.

The Smoke Missing Mirrors by Craig Schoettler at Sage inside Aria Resort & Casino.
Smoke Missing Mirrors

Photo Credit: MGM Resorts International

His new gin-focused menu for Juniper Lounge at Park MGM transcends the ordinary with original glassware such as the bird-shaped Little Birdie, made from Sipsmith gin, strawberry, Dolin dry vermouth, lemon and a mint sprig for its feathery tail. The No Judging (green Chartreuse, fresh pineapple, lime and mint) is set on fire at your table while the playful and sweet Carnival is made with fluffy cotton candy.

Schoettler graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University. As a chef, he created two award-winning beverage programs without ever working behind a bar. He then decided to try bartending at Chicago’s Drumbar, and after just a week he took over the beverage program, soon becoming corporate beverage director for the bar’s parent company Menin Hotels before coming to Aria. He has won several high-profile mixology awards and was recognized by the James Beard Foundation.


Mariena Mercer

Mariena Mercer_Chef MixologistPhoto Credit: Courtesy The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Mariena Mercer amalgamates her passions for cocktails, culinary and alchemy in the beverage product kitchen at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas where she experiments with syrups, infusions, garnishes and spirits for 16 different menus. Making drinks for The Cosmopolitan, in particular, is a dream come true for Mercer who earned the title Tequila Goddess for Treasure Island Hotel & Casino at the tender drinking age of 21.

Joining the Cosmopolitan by way of the Silverton Casino Hotel in 2010, she strives to create an experience, not just a great tasting drink. “We pride ourselves on being the curious class, and I make sure my cocktails live up to that,” Mercer previously told Haute Living. “Our guests are unique, adventurous and always up for trying something new and exciting.”

Mercer's “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired We’re All Mad Here cocktail incorporates color-changing Empress Indigo Gin, which changes colors right before your eyes.
We’re All Mad Here

Photo Credit: Anthony Mair

Mercer’s greatest hit is The Verbena, a secret cocktail served only on the middle level of the three-story, crystal-encased The Chandelier cocktail lounge. For The Verbena, the mad scientist meets mixologist created a Szechuan surprise; a flower “buzz button” with a natural alkaloid to speed up your salivary glands and enhance the drink’s flavor.

Mercer created space-themed drinks called “Spocktails” for the resort’s Opium Theater, home to the Spiegelworld show Opium, as well as some fun  “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired cocktails for the Rose.Rabbit.Lie. supper club and The Chandelier. The We’re All Mad Here cocktail incorporates color-changing Empress Indigo Gin, which changes colors right before your eyes.

“I am literally always designing new cocktails and experiences for guests,” she says. “Mixing cocktails is a science for me and I love trying out new ingredients and seeing how solutions develop.”


Sam Ross

DORSEY_HEADSHOTS-8 (1)Photo Credit: Courtesy The Venetian Las Vegas

Award-winning bartender Sam Ross is the man behind the exciting menus comprising the Venetian Cocktail Collective: Dorsey at the Venetian Las Vegas, Rosina at the Palazzo Las Vegas and the brand new Electra Cocktail Club, also at the Palazzo.

Most widely known for his cocktail invention, the Penicillin (served at The Dorsey), Ross put a tropical touch on his newest menu with cocktails like the frozen Penichillin and the Age of Aquarius (mezcal, passionfruit, lime, honey and Campari).

A mixture of Monkey Shoulder, fresh lemon, fresh ginger, honey and an Islay float, the Penicillin is the cure for whatever ails you.
Penicillin

Photo Credit: The Venetian Las Vegas

The Australian-born Ross got his start in the bar scene by helping out his sister. He rose to fame as a bartender at New York’s Milk & Honey, which he and bartender Michael Mcllroy later transformed into speakeasy Attaboy.

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