Mixologist Douglas Monroe

Good Vibes Only

What motivates Las Vegas star mixologist Douglas Monroe behind the bar is what awaits him at home: his wife, Mykia, and their three children. “Everything I do is for the betterment of my family,” says Monroe, and the driving force that always keeps him “pushing for more.”

That drive has propelled the 31-year-old on an unexpected career trajectory. And, ultimately, a fortuitous one.

Monroe started out in accounting and moved into a warehouse procurement role before finding himself on the receiving end of a layoff in 2014. That very same day, however, Monroe was offered a bartending job. And not just at any bar, but at Bound, the swanky cocktail lounge at The Cromwell Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

What did he know about bartending? “Nothing,” Monroe admits. That changed in a flash. Working under his mentor, the renowned cocktail “maestro” Salvatore Calabrese, Monroe learned it wasn’t about slinging drinks. “Bound was the best thing to happen to me. It taught me everything; the steps of service, how to treat guests, how to care for the bar and how to craft cocktails.”

Monroe was smitten with the artistry of it all. “The first drink that intrigued me about bartending was an old fashioned. It was cooking and art put together. I call it art in a glass.”

Three years later, Monroe found himself auditioning for bartender at the Cosmopolitan casino-resort. He nailed it. Working under another star of the Vegas strip, then-property mixologist Mariena Mercer Boarini, Monroe upped his game. He became faster, more efficient, and more innovative.

These days, Monroe is the High Limit bartender at Crockfords at the new Resorts World Las Vegas, which had its splashy opening in June. And though it’s been years since Monroe perfected his first old fashioned, he’s still guided by the same principles he learned under Calabrese’s tutelage. A good bartender sets the stage and then recedes into the background. “It’s not about you,” Monroe says, “The guest is the star, and our job is to make them feel better. Good vibes only.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“The right tools get the job done. They’re incredibly important. It’s no different than a chef using the proper cutlery. Whether it’s a fine strainer or shaking tools, you can’t make a proper cocktail without them. There’s an aesthetic component, too. I especially like Barfly shakers and bitter bottles. They’re not only functional, but they look great on the bar.”

– Mixologist Douglas Monroe


Every Bottle Tells a Story

Not many people can claim the title of tequila goddess. It turned out to be the job that launched the career of Mariena Mercer Boarini who now reigns as mixology royalty on the Las Vegas Strip.

The second-generation Las Vegas native, a rarity in this city, grew up enthralled with the glamour of the Strip, though she was only allowed to visit once a year on her birthday. Everything changed when she was offered a newly created role: tequila goddess. The job would mean traveling to the town of Tequila, Mexico, visiting distilleries and immersing herself in the terroir. “I did what any 21-year-old would do,” recalls Boarini. “I said, ‘Sign me up,’ and got on a plane.”

Becoming a tequila specialist “furthered my love for molecular chemistry and alchemy,” she explains “I just fell in love with the making of cocktails.” Her career trajectory was set.

In time, her home kitchen would come to double as a laboratory where she developed many of her signature techniques such as “champ-feign” foam–a froth that emulates champagne, adds texture to the cocktail and becomes a platform for her edible art garnishes.

“Innovation has always been my jam,” says Boarini.

For a decade, Boarini was the property mixologist at The Cosmopolitan casino-resort. Her show-stopping cocktails won awards and earned her top spots on “best bartender’” lists. In 2015, she entered the International Opihr World Adventure Cocktail Competition in Marrakech, Morocco, vying with bartenders from around the globe. Contestants had two hours to barter for ingredients at the local spice market and then come up with an original cocktail. Her “Classy Lassi” wowed the judges and nabbed her first prize.

Earlier this year, Boarini signed on with Wynn Las Vegas where she is reinventing the cocktail menus of more than two dozen restaurants and lounges at the Wynn and Encore resorts. For Boarini, it’s much more than introducing new cocktails. It’s about creating meaningful guest experiences.

“My style is storytelling,” says Boarini. “That’s one of the reasons I got into cocktails—because every spirit has an amazing story. There’s the cerebral side where I get to figure out the chemistry. Then there’s the part where I get to tell stories through the cocktail, and the bartenders get to tell those stories to guests.”

Photo credit: Eric Jamison

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“Having the proper tools is really important. It’s all about precision. Ingredients like juices and spirits have very different viscosities. They pour at different speeds. It’s very important to jigger-pour your measurements, and having these well-designed tools makes it make it easier to be a great bartender and build great cocktails.”

– Mixologist Mariena Mercer Boarini