Robert Boughner: Winner of the TOTC Scholarship Award

photos by Jose Salínas

A good bar should be a place of solace with a friendly face ready to serve you. Robert Boughner is one of those friendly faces. He is a comforting presence, there to share a chat and a laugh, make you a killer cocktail, hear your troubles or celebrate your victories. 

Robert recently won the Tales of the Cocktail scholarship award by the USBG.  We had a chance talk to Robert about the award, his approach to bartending and his love for the USBG. 

Where do you work?

Freedom Beat inside The Downtown Grand Casino located in Downtown Las Vegas.

What do you like about it?

With the Downtown Grand being a fairly small casino hotel our patrons and staff are all very personable. It is nice coming to work where everybody knows you.

Where have you worked and where are you from?

My food & beverage background is fairly short. I’ve worked at Freedom Beat since September 2016. Prior I was at Mandalay Bay for a year and half. But I’ve been in hotel hospitality since 2006. I was born in Whittier, California and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1991. I moved to San Antonio in 2010 but moved back to Las Vegas in 2014.

How long have you been in the USBG?

I’ve been in the USBG for around two and a half years. 

What do you love about it? 

The people! My fellow chapter members make the USBG a place for me and sometimes we learn about beverages...

What is your approach to bartending?

Have fun. I work in a restaurant bar so first get those food orders in; I do not need no hangry people at my bar. But other than that, enjoy! Talk with people, and make friends. I’ve met Aaron DeFeo and Donny Clutterbuck at my bar just by striking up conversations.

Random facts?

I became a bartender to make money so I can enjoy life more and have fun at work. What I found is the USBG. I found family, people I can depend on and enjoy the life I’m building.

Gina Lopez: Winner of the Bobby G New Kid on the Block Award

If you are looking for enthusiasm when it comes to bartending, look no further than Gina Lopez. She is a recent transplant from Albuquerque and has been a fixture at many of our USBG meetings and knowledge seminars.  So much that she was presented with the “New Kid on the Block” award at the USBG Holiday Party! 

Why Las Vegas?

I moved to Las Vegas April 2017 to follow my inspiration in being a bartender in one of the best cities to bartend in the nation. “Go Big or Go Home!” I thought to myself. With very little to no bartending experience and only $600 dollars to my name I made the move, knowing that one day I would be a Las Vegas bartender.”

How do you feel about the USBG? 

One of the best things that I did was join the USBG. I have been in the USBG for a little bit over a year and since have been thriving. I love the USBG because there are so many opportunities to learn, to gain experience and to network with a wonderful community of bartenders. The USBG has made Vegas feel like a home to me, truly my family away from family. If there is one piece of advice I can give to any new and inspired bartender, it would definitely be to join the USBG.

Where do you work?

I’m  currently working at one of Vegas’ best local bars called Rebar. It is an antique bar; everything in the bar is for sale, from the chair you’re sitting on to the handpicked antiques placed everywhere around the bar. It is hands down one of the best atmospheres to hang out in because of the crowd we attract and the regulars we keep, not to mention the amazing staff and management we have! I love my job because we get to be ourselves and let our different personalities and bartending styles flourish.

What do you focus on when you are behind the bar?

My approach on bartending is just being myself and always staying genuine. I really like making jokes with guests and getting to know people at the bar. As far as knowledge behind the bar, I like to be a YES woman. If there are informationals, socials, or job/volunteer opportunities I will be there!

You recently won an award; what can you tell us about it?

It was such an honor to receive the Bobby G New Kid on the Block Award! This award is given to a new member that has been active within the chapter such as attending many of the events that the USBG hosts year round, from seminars, tastings to celebrations. A member that shows great aspiration, motivation and devotion in learning the arts of tending bar. For me, receiving this award meant that I have a lot going for me, that I have shown improvement and that I am moving in a positive direction. It shows me that my hard work is not going unnoticed and motivates me to keep working harder. Words can’t express how excited I am to have received this incredible award and how grateful I am for the opportunity to continue my growth at Southern Glazer’s Academy!