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Drew Levinson
BELLAGIO
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-7111

Biography»

Interview:
Amy Tarr: What drew you to restaurants and in particular, to mixology?
Drew Levinson: At Skidmore I studied business and political science. After college, I came back to Colorado, where I’m originally from. I got a job as a bartender at Hard Rock Café and worked at Jimmy’s as a barback. At Jimmy’s I got promoted to bartender and worked full time for the next 5 years, eventually becoming bar manager, and assistant general manager.

AT: What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market? How have trends changed?
DL: Cocktails follow food trends. People’s tastes have become a lot more open. Along with the emergence of Asian markets and flavors, people are willing to try new things. The flavors of Asian-based food are starting to carry over into cocktails.

AT: What outlets at the Bellagio are you responsible for creating cocktails for?
DL: Mixology is a big part of what I do and what I have the most affinity for. I’m constantly in touch with every restaurant – some are more independent, some need help. I’ve gotten extensively involved with the cocktails for Jasmine – the Cantonese restaurant; Shintaro – the Japanese restaurant; Sensi – the eclectic Asian, American, and Italian restaurant; the Noodle Bar Café, and the Pool Bar.

AT: What inspires you when creating a new drink?
DL: It depends on what it is and where it’s for. Maybe the inspiration comes from a new spirit I taste. Or a new fruit puree. I’m always talking with the pastry chefs and garde manger chefs to see what purees and new things are out. If it’s for a restaurant, the inspiration comes from the food and what the chef is trying to achieve. I support the chef’s creations and ideas and the atmosphere he’s trying to create for the restaurant.

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Drew Levinson
BELLAGIO | Las Vegas

As a Business and Political Science student at Skidmore College, Drew Levinson had no notion that he’d find his career niche in the beverage world. Post-graduation, Drew discovered his love for bartending at Jimmy’s in Aspen, Colorado, working his way up for five years, eventually becoming assistant general manager. Levinson’s primary mentor is Steve Olson, a.k.a. the Wine Geek. Teaming up with Olson to design beverage programs for several nationally acclaimed restaurants, Drew discovered an outlet where he could take his passion and channel it into a career. In 2003, he helped open the Borgata in Atlantic City, and the following year, headed back west to join the Bellagio as Beverage Director and oversee the cocktail program for 22 bars. Levinson’s inspiration comes from diverse sources, including the hotel’s chefs and pastry chefs. For each dining outlet, Levinson’s goal is to support the chef’s creations and ideas, as well as the restaurant’s distinct atmosphere.

 

Il Regalo
Bar Chef Drew Levinson of the Bellagio Resort & Casino – Las Vegas, NV
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Il Regalo on StarChefs.comYield: 1 Serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce Bacardi “O” Rum
  • 1 ounce Orangecello
  • ½ ounce Alizé Red Passion
  • ½ ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Fresh passion fruit seeds
  • Orange or lemon twist

Method:
In an ice-filled shaker, combine rum, Orangecello, Alizé, orange juice, and lime juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh passion fruit seeds and an orange or lemon twist.

 

Le Cadeau (The Gift)

Yield: 1 Serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ ounce Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka
  • ½ ounce Cassis de Bordeaux
  • 1 ounce fresh white peach puree
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon sour
    (2 parts lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup)
  • Juice of ¼ lime
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • 2 fresh raspberries
  • 2 fresh peach slices

Method:
In an ice-filled shaker, combine vodka, Cassis de Bordeaux, peach puree, lemon sour, lime juice, and cranberry juice. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass. Garnish with the raspberries and fresh peach slices.


Interview Cont'd
AT: What is your favorite cocktail to drink?
DL: As much as I do cocktails, I’m pretty boring as to what I drink – rum. I love some of the unique aged rums that are out there, like Zaya. And there are some great agricole rums like La Favorite from Martinique, where production is entirely based on sugar cane, and no molasses. It’s the first press. There are some new ones coming out. Also Havana Club if you can get it - not in the US! I also like tequila – there are ones that shine for different reasons. El Tessoro is one of my favorites, Don Julian 1042, Gran Centinario Anejo, and the mezcals from Del Maguey.

AT: What about your favorite to make?
DL: Anything that’s fresh. Day by day it may change. If I see or taste a great fruit like kumquat or gooseberry, white peach, those are the things I like to make cocktails with. It has to be fresh. I love when the pastry chef says, you’ve got to check out these plums I just got in. I’ll start playing around, and before you know it, I’ll have a really interesting drink. I’m constantly tasting and looking for new purveyors. We have a quality control chef who sits on our loading dock and accepts or denies deliveries. Anything that’s perishable. He’ll call me and say, these are coming in great, or these aren’t coming in so great anymore. The challenge is finding fresh, year-round products so we can keep the drink on the menu year-round.

AT: Where do you see yourself in five –ten years?
DL: I’m not sure yet. I don’t think I’ll be in casinos for 10 years. Ultimately I’d like to have my own program, putting that business degree to work but applying it toward my passion – the spirits and cocktail world. It will be something I put my heart and soul into. Bellagio for me right now is the perfect place. We have a strong base of managers, and we’ll do $75 million just in beverage in this year.

 

RISING STAR BAR CHEF AWARD SPONSORED BY



   Published: August 2005

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