Las Vegas native Katie Cruz’s bartending career may have started somewhat inauspiciously upon her return to Las Vegas after attending University of Nevada Reno, working the graveyard shift at a gaming bar. But she found her niche, writing a tequila manual for the bar, and she’s been on a breakneck trajectory ever since. After putting in the research, visiting the city’s bastions of mixology such as Herbs & Rye and Velveteen Rabbit, Cruz found her way to Oak & Ivy just as it was getting ready to open in Container Park, which proved to be “the perfect spot for me,” Cruz has said. “I learned a lot, and had a space to really get creative.” A year and a half later, Cruz is the “Intoxicology Director” (no, really though) for industry clubhouse Tacos & Beer and has been tearing up the cocktail competition scene with her tenacity and grit. Cruz survived round after round to make the top four of Vegas Seven’s own Las Vegas’ Best Bartender Competition this summer, took on Speed Rack Las Vegas and was most recently invited to the Jack Daniel’s Women & Whiskey competition at Intrigue. And now that she’s 25, Cruz is eligible to go out for the biggies—USBG World Class by Diageo and Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competitions—the sky’s the limit for this rising bar star. Tacos & Beer, 3900 Paradise Rd., TacosAndBeerLasVegas.com.