Mixology bars are becoming more and more prevalent in the Las Vegas nightlife scene. They are sprinkled from the far corners of downtown spreading far up into the hills of Summerlin. People are willing to shell out a few extra bucks for a well-balanced cocktail, a comfortable setting and a highly versed bartender who understands the components he or she is working with. I actually prefer a lounge or bar over most nightclubs here because I know I’m most likely going to get an amazing cocktail and an atmosphere I can enjoy comfortably. So to fuse all of this together, Clique Bar and Lounge came up with the idea to hold a competition for local bartenders called Masters of Mixology.

They invited bartenders from all corners of the city to engage in a four-week competition starting on April 20. The concept was easy and very similar to an episode of Chopped, just on a cocktail level. Four contestants would get a box of different ingredients and they only had a few minutes to create a range of drinks on the fly, and in front of a panel of judges and a very crowded lounge of loud intoxicated onlookers. Each week, the judges would pick a winner and after all four events, the four finalists would bring their skills to the cart again in order to win the Grand Prize, a trip to the legendary and highly anticipated bartender event of the year, Tales of the Cocktail, religiously held in New Orleans.

The final round was held on May 18 with Isaiah Thornton, Lilli Santiago, Daniel Fast and Julian Liwanag as the grand finale competitors. The room filled up quickly with localites, all cheering on their favorite contender. The baskets for the ingredients were filled with everything including different herbs, juices, bitters, cordials and spirits. All bartenders had the same setup and tools to work with and it was their job to create the best cocktails imaginable in a matter of a few minutes. As soon as the baskets opened, the music blasted and the energy mounted. Not a person in the room wasn’t fully engaged and enthralled in the creative process of these pros. A few minutes passed and time was up. Each bartender made a few drinks dressed with their own garnishes in hopes of impressing the judges. After a close round and some deliberation, they announced Lilli Santiago as the Master of Mixology. The crowd went wild and burst into celebration. The event went off without a hitch and was nice to see local industry supporting this craft. Clique will be having many more and diverse events in the future. Congrats to Lilli and I hope she gets to experience everything Tales has to offer.

Clique Bar and Lounge

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas