Best Off-Menu Mixes: Roger Gross at Vesper at Cosmopolitan Why even bother with a drink menu? With Gross, there’s no reason to. The Cosmo bartender likes to engage his clientele. He might ask you to name a feeling, and then off he goes. With Vesper’s practically limitless access to uncommon ingredients, there’s no telling what you’ll be quaffing, but a word of warning—“ornery” will get you quite a different cocktail than “horny,” so be sure to enunciate.
Best Cocktails With a Side of Story: Gaston Martinez Martinez has sacrificed his rotator cuffs to shaking drinks, to the gospel of “cold cooking.” He’s brought the kitchen’s freshness into bars across Vegas (Nora’s! Fleming’s! T&T!) and created menus elevating the beverage game across the country. As Milagro Tequila’s West Coast ambassador, he’s too busy hosting special events and teaching casino staffs to be behind the bar much anymore. And that’s a shame, because this man has stories (ask him about the time a costume almost killed him). If you’re lucky enough to find him mixing, pull up a barstool and let the charm loosen you up like good tequila.
Most Ambitious Barman: Nathan Greene at RM Seafood It’s not the competitions he’s won, the labels he’s represented or the menus he’s created that set this guy apart. It’s what he’s planning to do next: Along with chef Rick Moonen, Greene is attempting to build a game-changing cocktail program at Rx Boiler Room comparable to the nation’s most boundary-pushing bars. We’ll have fun tasting how it turns out.
Best Cocktail Historian: Joe Intiso at Postrio It’s not every day you learn a little something about the world around you while getting pleasantly buzzed. Intiso has an abundance of fun facts about everything from where a cocktail was invented to where its creator got the idea. Thanks to the atmosphere Intiso creates, you always feel like you’re going back in time upon that first sip.