Las Vegas is certainly one of the cocktail capitals of the universe, but it goes deeper than you think.
“Vegas has always been a monster in beverage volume, but the biggest change I’ve seen is the community and how it’s developed and evolved in Las Vegas,” says legendary mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. He came to Sin City in 1998 to open Bellagio and ended up making it home base, building a career as one of world’s leading bar professionals. He helped form the second chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild in Las Vegas, and today, with more than 50 chapters across the country, Vegas’ is the second largest. “The industry here is very much a family, and we support one another and celebrate our successes.”
Abou-Ganim also created For the Love of Cocktails, now an epic three-day celebration drawing more than 3,500 professionals and enthusiasts. It’s also a fundraiser for the Helen David Relief Fund, named for Abou-Ganim’s cousin who ran a bar in Michigan for nearly 70 years and dedicated to assisting bartenders and their families battling cancer.
“This year is so exciting because there will really be something for everybody,” Abou-Ganim says. Fellow master mixologists Francesco Lafranconi and Salvatore Calabrese will be there, and events will be hosted by the Cromwell, Delano Las Vegas and Downtown’s Gold Spike, among others. “Something brand new this year that I couldn’t be more excited about is the Downtown bar crawl and food-truck mixology wars,” Abou-Ganim says. “It’s such a fun opportunity for people who might not be familiar with Downtown, because the Las Vegas craft cocktail movement really took hold Downtown.” For the Love of Cocktails, February 10-12, fortheloveofcocktails.com.