Best Bartender

Nick Houck


Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Less flash, more FlashPour! That would be the battle cry of veteran barman Nick Houck … that is, if he had time for that sort of thing. He’s been busy of late, working the levels of Vegas Seven’s annual Bols Best Bartender competition that spanned three weeks, and ultimately taking home the prize.

“This competition is designed to test a range of skills that a modern professional bartender should display,” says Anthony Pullen, Lucas Bols USA brand development and education manager, who created the competition. “The goal is to encourage participants to challenge themselves to refine skills in which they might not excel. The only way to win is to be well rounded, not necessarily an expert at one particular discipline.”

The competition, which drew 35 participants, was split into three rounds: knowledge and accuracy via a written exam and pour test; speed and efficiency, by way of a four-cocktail timed practical; and service and personality, comprised of a mixology competition and a live trial, managing a busy crowd at Whist Stove & Spirits in The District at Green Valley Ranch. The barman with the highest average score was the winner.

“Nick played the game real smart,” Pullen says. “He took the time to study, and prepared well for the different rounds. He was aware of his strengths and weaknesses, then applied himself to earn the most points he could out of each round.”

Houck is the creator of the FlashPour precision pour spout (, so winning this competition figures to boost his side business. More than that, the Aria barman is simply thrilled “to prove to people that a true dyed-in-the-wool union bartender can be the best bartender in Las Vegas.” -Xania Woodman

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