3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
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
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.
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.
Bar Chef Drew Levinson of the Bellagio Resort & Casino –
Las Vegas, NV
Adapted by StarChefs.com
- 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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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