Tell us about yourself. What’s your background, and how did you end up as a bartender/mixologist?
I grew up in San Diego and was always drawn to the bar. While in college I worked in several venues, from fine dining, dive to blues clubs.
After college, I went into the fabulous world of insurance where I learned that “Claims Adjusting” isn’t as fun or lucrative as bartending.
Three years later, I moved to Las Vegas to get back into the service industry. After working many odd-jobs I finally landed a gig at Mario Batali’s fine-dining Italian restaurant in the Venetian. There I learned to use seasonal ingredients, loads of food & wine knowledge and a very serious service style.
After helping open venues for Gordon Ramsay and Sam Ross, I also developed cocktails for the famed CarneVino steakhouses and James Beard nominee Sheridan Su.
Since 2017, I have been running the program at The Golden Tiki and jumped headfirst into Rum and Tiki cocktails.
What’s your favorite Pusser’s Rum cocktail, and what is the recipe for making it?
“Black Tot Sour”
- 1 oz Pussers
- .5 oz Amaro Averna
- .5 oz 5 Spice Syrup
- .75 oz Lemon Juice
- .75 oz Pineapple Juice
- .5 oz Aquafaba
Garnish: Edible Flowers, Black Salt
Method: Combine ingredients into mixing tin with ice. Shake hard and fast, and strain out the ice. Then shake again without ice. Dump into a chilled coupe and garnish.
Please tell us about your personal connection to rum. Why choose rum over another spirit?
The beautiful and drastic differences in Rum styles is a wonderful world to share with our guests.
Rum is the spirit of the New World; While there is a dark side to the history that must be acknowledged, the new cultures that have been formed are beautiful and diverse. Rum represents this and brings together the future, past and present all in one cup. With a glass of Pussers good people and good rum can coalesce, salute the past and look towards the future.
What do you think the future holds for the rum industry?
I would love to see a World Rum Organization that can give some standardization to our spirit. This would further legitimize and elevate the category.
I would also love for us to find a way to embrace and honor the entire history of rum while acknowledging all of those who contributed to the building of the New World and spirit, the many that died, and somewhere brought against their will and endured countless hardships; all should be further recognized and given their due and their esteemed place in the rich tapestry of tradition that is Rum.
What inspires you creatively when it comes to making drinks?
It can be almost anything, the guest, a seasonal ingredient, a phrase, name, song, but mainly I go where spirit takes me!
Please share your greatest achievement in relation to the spirits industry.
I was fortunate to receive the 2019 Nevada Restaurant Association’s “Drink Specialist of the Year.”
During my career, I’ve studied at SDSU (B.A), BarSmarts (Advanced), Court of Master Sommeliers (Level 1), International Sommeliers Guild (Level 1 & 2) the USBG and the Certified Cicerone Program (Level 1). I have also has won or placed in several local, national & international in Mixology competitions. I have written for several publications such as Chilled Magazine, Tales of the Cocktail, and Las Vegas Food Beverage Professional.
I recently wrote a book called “Lemba Loves Las Vegas” that features recipes from all over our city. Proceeds go to help out of work service industry people.
Also, I am very proud of our charity Mug program. Every month we would partner with a different brand and sell a featured charity cocktail and mug. Last year we raised close to $8000 for various charities.
What is an interesting fact about yourself? Any special talents or hobbies?
I’m the lead guitarist and frontman for the punk/ska/surf band called the Rhumones. I have a wife, two kids, four dogs, two cats, two chickens and two ducks. There’s a lot going on at my house! LOL
How can people learn more about you? (Social media handles, website, etc.)