A mixologist is not a higher rank of bartender; mixology is a component skill of the bartending profession. A great mixologist might not necessarily be a bartender by trade (she might be a consultant or liquor rep, he might be an author), but a truly great bartender must be a proficient mixologist. That’s why mixology was only one component in Vegas Seven’s and Bols Bartending Academy’s inaugural search for Las Vegas’ Best Bartender, along with knowledge, accuracy, speed, efficiency, creativity, service and personality. “The Bols Bartending Academy has always focused on training bartenders to become skilled in every aspect of the profession,” says Anthony Pullen, brand development and education manager for Lucas Bols USA and creator of the competition. It was structured so that bartenders would be tested on all aspects of their craft, narrowing the field with each round. “In the end there is only one left standing.”
And that bartender was Roger Gross. At Vesper in the Cosmopolitan, Gross deftly crafts classic cocktails and innovative originals, but he happily goes off-menu to give his patrons a personalized cocktail experience. During the mixology round, Gross had just two minutes to survey the ingredients available to him. Knowing there were points on the line for creativity, he grabbed Froot Loops and Bols’ new yogurt liqueur. To this he added Jamaican rum, rhubarb liqueur and bitters to create the FrootLoop-A-Palooza, a sort of “bartender’s breakfast” and the ultimate expression of his imagination. “I can re-create almost anything with booze and the right ingredients,” Gross says. “There is no greater pleasure for me than creating a new cocktail that someone enjoys, especially when I custom-tailor it for my guest.”
Rim a 10¾-ounce cocktail coupe with Monin cinnamon syrup and dip into crushed Froot Loops cereal; refrigerate till use. In a mixing glass, combine 1½ ounces Bols Yogurt liqueur, 1 ounce Art in the Age Rhubarb, 1 ounce Wray & Nephew over-proof Jamaican rum, ½ ounce Monin orgeat syrup, 2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters, 2 dashes Fee Brothers plum bitters and a splash of half and half. Add ice, cover, shake vigorously and strain into the chilled coupe.