Best Storytelling Bartender

Sean Bigley has amassed some great stories since Bellagio opened in 1998. (No, he can’t tell you all of them.) He was there from the beginning, first at a casino service bar before moving to the sports book and poker room, then the Baccarat Bar before finally landing a sweet gig at the now-shuttered Fontana Bar in September 2000. It was there that he witnessed the excitement of Bellagio’s participation in the filming of the remake of Ocean’s Eleven. “During that time, the Oscars were out, and Julia Roberts won for Erin Brockovich. So they decided to rent out the Fontana lounge and throw a party for her.” The whole cast and crew of Ocean’s Eleven attended. “That’s when I first had respect for Julia Roberts, because she’s a whiskey drinker. She walked up to my bar and ordered Jack Daniel’s, and I thought, “Now, that’s what I’m talking about!” George Clooney, too, made an appearance during the filming, stopping by the Fontana Bar a few times for a drink. “It was the same thing every time. He’d come up to the bar and say, ‘Hey, Sean—Belvedere on the rocks.’ And he’d pick the glass up, take a sip and say, “Jesus Christ, Sean! Are you trying to kill me? Put some soda in there!” After the third time I finally asked him, ‘Why don’t you just order it with a splash of soda in it?’ and he said, ‘Well, that wouldn’t be very cool now would it?’” Of course, not every interaction is with a Julia or a George. The most frequent question asked of Bigley at the Fontana Bar was, “Where’s the Fontana Bar?” something Bigley surely won’t miss. He could also do without people pulling their own beer Koozie from their back pockets. He misses manners and fondly recalls the days when people dressed up just to set foot in a casino. “That would have been my dream era to be in Vegas, when you could go to the [Sands’] Copa Room and see Frankie and Dean.” The Fontana Bar closed on July 5 to make way for SBE Entertainment’s Hyde Lounge. Bigley has since moved on to his new appointment at restaurants Jasmine and Circo, and back to the Baccarat Bar, where he will no doubt amass many more Vegas stories.