Best Bartender

Vesper's Roger Gross


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Sponsored by Vegas Seven and Bols Bartending Academy, the inaugural “Las Vegas’ Best Bartender Competition” began June 25 with a 40-question written exam—Vesper barman Roger Gross aced it. Next came the speed round, where Gross banged out six drinks against the clock. His pour test was on the money. And while strange, his impromptu Froot Loops/Bols Yogurt cocktail during the mixology round was delicious. But what clinched it for this Union City, California, native was his poise during the Service & Personality round, when the judges behaved … well, just atrociously, channeling the very worst kind of customer. “Bartenders in this town often work with no filter—no door policy, doorman, entry fees, etc.,” says competition creator Anthony Pullen, who is the brand development and education manager for Lucas Bols USA. “They have to be able to deal with whatever is thrown at them on a regular basis.” But for Gross, it was just another crazy shift at the Cosmopolitan’s busy lobby bar.

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Jason Strauss


Jason Strauss

The tastemaker and nightlife impresario is a partner of Tao Group, a leading restaurant and nightlife company that develops, owns and operates numerous high-profile food and beverage facilities nationwide, including Tao, Lavo and Marquee. Along with his partners, Strauss was named Hospitality Operator of the Year by Nightclub & Bar in 2006, and their work with Marquee has been profiled as a case study by Harvard Business School.