Q&A with : Jason Shullo

Q&A-Feb-2019-Info-Graphic1 What led you to work in the hospitality industry?

Growing up, I always thought that I wanted to be a chef, but I began bartending when I was in college and loved getting the opportunity to connect with so many new faces. Being able to meet people in a casual environment has really kept me in the business and some of my best memories have come from sitting around a dinner table with an engaging group of people over a nice glass of wine. I was lucky enough to start working in an industry that I had a passion for at a young age, and I figured I’d better make a career out of it.   

2 When creating beverage programs, how do you choose/create drinks that are the right fit for each establishment?

The clientele varies greatly between each of Golden Entertainment’s properties, but I’ve served all different types of people throughout my years in the wine and spirits industry and have the experience to determine what will likely work for each audience. For the most part, I like to keep things simple and avoid overcomplicating drinks. I enjoy taking classic cocktails that people have enjoyed for years and introducing a twist or flavor combination that they haven’t had before. Developing new ways to spice up the beverage programs at each establishment keeps my job fast-paced and exciting.

3 Tell me about Top of the World’s beverage program.

My goal is to create menus that are approachable but also pique guests’ interest to try something new. While Top of the World is an upscale restaurant, I always keep our cocktail menus fresh with recognizable classics for guests. I also work with our executive chef to recognize opportunities where I can take advantage of culinary pairings with spirits and wine to enhance our guest experience.

4 How often do you change the menu at Top of the World?

In Las Vegas, it often feels like there are only two seasons—hot and cold. We have changed the menu twice this year (2018) and we are always trying to incorporate our take on seasonal specials that people have grown to love.

5 What are some common missteps you see made on beverage programs?

Many beverage programs focus on filling up the back bars and tend to overcomplicate the selections that are offered, which is an easy thing to do in the industry today. There is such a large array of products that are being produced and many programs try to offer as many options as possible, which can keep them from being efficient and running smoothly.

Success comes from doing what is right for your customer base. If you are taking care of the customer first, then you can’t go wrong. There will always be a time to let the creativity flow and fine-tune all of the details, but focusing on doing the basics well is key to an exceptional beverage program.

7 What are some drink and/or ingredient trends you’re currently seeing in the bar industry?

It’s been nice to see beer being brought into cocktails more often lately. The craft beer scene has been expanding greatly over the last few years and there are so many varieties of local and regional beers that lend themselves well to being an ingredient in cocktails.

8 Any advice on putting together a successful beverage program?

I recommend that beverage directors and bar managers not only listen to their guests, but also get input from their team. A director or manager doesn’t always get to be face-to-face with their guests so it’s important to consult with their team on the decisions being made.

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