USBG Las Vegas
If there is a single USBG member that should be recognized for their pursuit of knowledge it is Mark Kiyojima. He attends nearly every offered seminar, continues to rack up certifications and strives to be a mentor and a good example to younger bartenders. He was recently named as the new Vice President of the USBG Las Vegas Chapter.
First I'd like to say congratulations on being named our new USBG Chapter Vice President. I don't think chapter members understand the amount of hours Counsel Officers put in. Have you started making adjustments in your day to account for this?
Yes. Our chapter President and Secretary challenged me to further develop the USBG Education Program. With the help of our local USBG Directors we have been meeting weekly to create a solid foundation of education that all USBG members will benefit from tremendously. The USBG is for its members and my goal is to do everything in my power to give back what I have gained throughout the years.
How did you get your start bartending, where are you currently working and what is one thing you learned on your first day that you still use today?
I completed my 1,000 practical work hours for the UNLV School of Hospitality as a busser at Hamada of Japan in the Flamingo Hilton. I was interested in getting behind the bar and my General Manager told me that he needed one at another location. The rest is history. I apprenticed for Kit Va Vong and he taught me about the “Golden Opportunity.” He said that if you can turn someone’s worst experience into their best experience you will make a friend for life. I watched him do it many times and it has stuck with me. I currently bartend at Omnia Nightclub inside of Caesars Palace.
Cocktail culture is so vastly different today than it was 10 years ago. Where do you see it going in another 10 years? How has the USBG affected your life and career?
The creativity in cocktails is through the roof. In another 10 years I envision not only more innovation, but a deeper dive into the history of Classic Cocktails and their original ingredients. Cocktail historians slowly find more evidence of the true ingredients to our Classic Cocktails. We must take a look at the past, present and future to really have a better understanding of our profession.
Throughout my 10 years in the USBG I have grown tremendously as a bartender. When I first joined the USBG I would enter cocktail competitions and work on cocktail development. Prior to being a part of the council my goal was to take advantage of all of the educational opportunities.
What is something you would like to see younger members do that you didn't think was important before but now see that it is?
“Once a bartender always a bartender.” Appreciate your time as a bartender. I started my service career as a bartender then transitioned into management for many years. Then started bartending again, because not only did I miss the type of work, but the camaraderie between a bar team.
I tell you I want a spirit forward cocktail that's rich and has baking spice undertones. What do you make me?
Aged Rum Old Fashioned—Aged Rum, Demarera, Turbinado or Muscovado sugar syrup, Angostura and orange bitters, garnished with a flamed and cloved orange peel. Sounds warm and fuzzy.
Thanks for your time, Mark. I am truly happy to see you get a Council seat and can't wait to see the great things you accomplish. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Without the loving support of my wife Therese, I would not be the happy-go-lucky bartender that I am today. She is my daily motivation and makes sure that I always strive to be a better human being. Special thank you to my family and friends back home in Hawaii that always show me loving support.