They’ve Got Spirit

Our city’s bartenders have some stories to tell—their own

Taking a Chance

Anthony Mair | Vegas Seven

Herbs & Rye barback Louis Przydzial is preparing to take the next step … and it’s a doozy. The 22-year-old Las Vegas native is about to embark on his training as a bartender at the award-winning high-volume cocktail bar and steakhouse with the aim of achieving bartender status by the end of 2017. Heading into it, Przydzial has a lot going for him, including a potent cocktail of chutzpah, perseverance and grit. Anyone who has encountered the young man there or at his previous jobs as a busser at Palace Station and Central (now Café Americano) inside Caesars Palace recalls Przydzial’s upbeat, seemingly innate sense of hospitality. “At Herbs, you build from the beginning: You start as a barback, and then once you’ve perfected it, you can start moving on to everything else. I’m very excited just to be beginning that process,” he says. “I’m currently studying our cocktails on flash cards—all 48 of them—and reading The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan,” he says.

There’s just one thing: Przydzial can barely reach the far side of the bar, and much of the back bar is out of range as well. In his words, Przydzial is short-statured, but his colossal personality belies his 5 feet, so the topic rarely comes up, let alone gets in his way. Junior varsity and later varsity wrestling, snowboarding, basketball—Przydzial did it all. “You learn to adapt,” he says. “It makes you a lot faster—even the rebounded basketball, if the big guys miss it and it hits the floor … who’s the first one to get to it?”

While Przydzial’s father stands more than 6 feet tall, Przydzial takes after his 4-foot-5-inch mother. No matter: He makes it work, scaling the back bar with ease to crush 550-plus covers right alongside his coworkers. “Somebody is always right there if I do need help, but most of the time they know that I’m going to find a way,” he says.

A self-proclaimed reformed class clown, Przydzial credits his maturity to the unwavering support network he has in his parents, his older brother, Michael, and his Herbs & Rye comrades, owner Nectaly Mendoza and bar manager Adam O’Donnell. “Nectaly told me, ‘Do not rush success.’ I’m always [asking] him about making cocktails, and what books should I be reading, and he always says, ‘Do your studying, do what you have to do and you will earn your way.’”

Perhaps no one is a bigger fan of Przydzial, however, than Michael, eight years Przydzial’s senior and a beverage program specialist at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “An individual’s personality and their ability to care for their guests are two of the most important aspects of bartending. Louis has always had those traits, and they will propel him as far as he would like in the profession of bartending,” Michael says. “Our parents would tell me all the time that I was an example he would look up to and learn from, but I’ve definitely learned from and looked up to him just as much.”

As for bartending as a profession, “I’m not sure how far I want to take it,” Przydzial says. “I’m learning the base of the bartending industry. That’s my plan, to start here, develop and perfect craft cocktails, and then becoming an owner would be an unbelievable thought.”

Where does Przydzial get his drive? “My parents know that [Herbs & Rye] is a tough spot for somebody my size to work at. But if I complete this task ahead of me, I know how happy it will make them. That’s what pushes me every day.”

Shot on location at Pioneer Saloon. 310 W. Spring St., Goodsprings, Read our story here for more on this historic bar, opened in 1913, and its storied past.