USBG Las Vegas
Mike Guzmán is always down to battle. No matter if it's for a flair bartending competition, a late night cocktail challenge or as high stakes as his own personal win against cancer, he isn't the type to go down without a fight.
Where do you currently bartend?
Vanderpump Cocktail Garden
How has the USBG been beneficial to your career?
The USBG has given me the opportunity to fast track my education on craft bartending and spirits knowledge. Being in such an active chapter we have so many opportunities to learn from the many events and seminars we have here. I love how tight-knit the community is here. I've made many friends and connections and we all strive to see each other succeed and support each other's successes, and that's just something you don't see in every line of work.
You've made the transition from being a competition flair bartender to a craft bartender over the last couple of years. Are there any habits from flair you needed to break once you moved into craft? What skills from flair have made you a better craft bartender?
Yeah, I need to stop wanting to throw stuff (lol). But in reality when you're all about the show you're not always mindful of what's going into a cocktail. Pours can be off, proportions can be off, and transition to the craft side made me more focused on exactly what's going into the glass. Flair has helped mold me as a bartender though. It really pressed into me that when we are behind the stick that is our stage. We're entertainers, bartenders, therapists, etc. and folks come to enjoy not just our concoctions but the service, and that's where we shine. It also has helped me learn to manage the pressure behind the bar. When you have hundreds of people watching you on stage it's almost as stressful as a Friday night in the well.
You recently competed in Barmania. This year it raised over $45,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, shattering the previous year by double. Being a cancer survivor yourself how important was it for you to be a part of the event?
Being in Barmania has been something I've wanted since I saw my first one. I partially attribute bartending to one of the reasons I beat cancer. After I was diagnosed I still needed a job to pay bills. I started working at TGI Fridays between my chemotherapy sessions. That's where I started learning flair and started competing. The physical nature of the sport helped me get through the harsh chemo and kept me active and gave me something to strive for and keep my mind off of the cancer. Being able to share a bar with some of the most amazing bartenders in the country and raise money for cancer research, it's the least we could do. To me it was a chance to come full circle with a passion that helped me beat cancer while being able to give back in our own crazy way.
If you have been to Cleaver lately, chances are you have seen Allyssa Gabrillo. She has recently been promoted from Barback to Bartender. Along with that, she is one of our newest members of the USBG in Las Vegas. To commemorate and celebrate this, we sat down and talked to her about the Guild, laughs behind the bar and being crazy like Nectaly Mendoza.
Where are you from?
Originally Oahu, Hawaii but raised here in Las Vegas.
What are you excited about in the USBG?
I'm excited for the new opportunities this will open up, whether it's making more family or even building my knowledge in the bar industry.
Random you facts?
I'm obsessed with crocheting and knitting.
Where do you like to drink?
I don’t really drink often but I do like to try new bars that open up around the city!
What's your favorite drink to drink or make?
Any bourbon with ginger ale will always be my go-to. I love making an Old Fashioned. There is something about it that's so simple yet so elegant all at the same time.
What is your approach to bartending?
My approach to bartending is simple, Fast and courteous service with a bunch of laughs in between.
Who do you look up to?
After only working for him for a few months, it would hands down be Nectaly Mendoza. Have you ever met someone and think, man he’s crazy...but I want to be just like him! Well, that was my first impression of him. After getting to know him you realize why so many admire him and will without a doubt go to bat for him no matter what the situation. He will always be what I aspire to be, not only as a bartender, but just as a person in general.
Where do you work?
I am now officially a bartender at the best bar in Vegas, Cleaver!
What is your next step?
I guess the next step for me would be perfecting my craft and making my mark in this industry. The good thing about being in this part of my life is I can only go up from here.