The hospitality industry in Las Vegas is blessed to have some of the finest professionals in the world and the City of Lights offers one of the best stages to hone their craft, with numerous ultra-sophisticated bars that grace our casino resorts offering innovative mixology and engaging service. A highly talented individual worth getting to know whose craft is that of a bartender is Evan Hosaka, Lead Bartender at The Dorsey in The Venetian.
Career Path Change
Evan grew up in Oahu, Hawaii and early in his adult life was drawn to an occupation in the hospitality industry, doing work to serve others.
In 2009, while working as a valet, bellhop and doorman at a premiere 5-Star, 5-Diamond resort in Waikiki and reading guest comments, he noticed “I would get the second highest recognition, with the highest going to either a concierge or a bartender,” which was a key motivation to change his career path to the beverage industry.
From Hawaii to the Mainland
Due to a lack of opportunity on the islands to develop skills in the industry and with few job openings in the field, he decided to head to the mainland. After spending time in S.F. and Portland and working several jobs including barback, food runner, server and eventually bartender, he gained valuable experience but realized Las Vegas, as one of the capitals of the world in terms of hospitality, offered a larger platform to allow him to attain his goal to shine as a bartender.
Heading to Las Vegas
In October, 2015 Evan joined his brother in Las Vegas, and to break into the industry took the first job he was offered, as a busser at Island Sushi, a small independent restaurant. Soon after, he moved over to The Strat (formerly known as the Stratosphere), his first bartender job in Vegas, and later to the famed Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars.
After noticing that union bars base promotion on longevity/tenure, opposed to performance at non-union establishments, in May, 2016 he was fortunate to secure a position at The Palazzo/Venetian, which would become his work home. Within a short period of time, and after working at all three of the resort’s bars that make up The Cocktail Collective—The Dorsey, Rosina and Electra Cocktail Club—he excelled and worked his way up to the Lead Bartender position at each bar.
The Cocktail Collective at The Palazzo/Venetian
Each of The Cocktail Collective bars has its own personality, while all three exude class, opulence and upscale charm.
Rosina, which is Italian for rose, suggests old-school elegance with an art deco flair, evident through solid brass and gold façade, brass inlayed flooring, decorative etched mirrors and crystal chandeliers.
The Dorsey, with shelves of books, offers the air of a private club library equipped with French oak, leather, brass, marble and large leather sofas.
Electra Cocktail Club, in fitting with its name, showcases images of light bulbs and lightning bolts, a mirrored ceiling and a collection of sleek cushioned chairs and sofas with pillows.
Distinct cocktails are served at each bar, which are designed by award-winning barman Sam Ross (of NYC’s Attaboy fame) along with the lead bartenders. While all three have their own signature drink menus, all have set standards and techniques for making the cocktails that the bartenders follow to maintain a consistent quality product that’s presented in front of the guest, regardless of which bar they are in. And, if ingredients are available, they can make a cocktail found on one of the other Collective’s list.
An example of a drink Hosaka created is The Libra. Found on the Zodiac menu, he describes it is a take on an Aperol Spritz using Amaro Nonino, Cocchi Americano, Champagne, club soda, a dash of fresh lemon juice and finished with an orange slice.
One cocktail that The Dorsey is most known for is Penicillin, which has gained acclaim after being named to the New York Times list of 11 essential drinks of the “modern cocktail revival.” It’s a blend of Scotch, lemon, ginger, honey and Islay float, and is found on the Conversation Pieces section of the menu.
Another favorite is the Narrator, made with rye whiskey, Amaro Ciociaro, Punt e Mes and orange bitters and part of the Stirred and Boozy section of the menu.
What makes Evan stand out, and what is likely the key to his success in his chosen field, is his ability to connect with patrons and his knack for determining or creating the ideal drink to fit one’s individual palate and mood.
He said, “That’s actually 100% of the reason why I continue in the hospitality and service sector. When a guest tells me ‘hey, I don’t like cocktails, or wine or beer,’ I respect that, but if I can connect with them and determine their comfort zone after developing a sense of trust and find a drink that fits their palate or mood, hopefully they will come back another time, or recommend the venue or maybe even have a second drink when they only intended to have one.”
Watching Evan in Action
In addition to appreciating your interaction with Evan, part of your enjoyment will be watching him exhibit style and grace as he concocts your drink as he meticulously measures ingredients, shakes or stirs for the optimal length of time and finishes the presentation with a citrus peel spritz. Be sure to look Evan up and watch him in action the next time you make your way to The Dorsey.
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