January 2016 Bartender of the Month: Armon Noori

Name: Armon Noori

Establishment: Bartender, Parlor Lounge inside Mirage Las Vegas

Recent Gigs: I first met Armon at Bound, world renowned mixologist Salvatore Calabrese's elegant lounge inside The Cromwell Las Vegas. To be honest, I looked at the menu only once over the course of several visits due to Armon's electrifying enthusiasm for creating bespoke cocktails on-the-fly. It never mattered what I or my friends threw at him, he would build something unexpected, beautiful and delicious every single time. Even more impressive, every cocktail ordered among my friends would end up being passed around, without fail. So, when he made the move to Parlor Lounge at Mirage Las Vegas I didn't hesitate to check out his new gig.

You'll notice that Armon is never still behind the bar, and that none of the energy he expends is wasted. If he isn't building a drink, he's tinkering with house-made spirits, liqueurs, or botanicals. When he isn't building or experimenting, he's chatting up guests to understand their palates and create something unique for them. If he isn't doing any of those things, he's polishing glassware, bouncing ideas off of (and plotting with) his partner in crime behind the stick, Rodger Gillespie, or showing everyone seated at the bar new additions to the menu. Spending time at the bar when Armon is there is both entertaining and educational, and an experience not to be missed.

Why did you become a bartender?

It was actually a complete accident! I was working as a mechanic in Wisconsin when my roommate decided to move to Portland. He asked if I wanted his job as a server at a restaurant and I figured why not? Fast forward 6 months and all of a sudden it’s Friday night and I’m making drinks from a 48-drink menu (that I got the recipes for a week prior) for the service well while covering a 16-seat bar. Talk about shit show.

What are some fun flavors you’re working with?

Quite a few right now! Rodger Gillespie [Parlor Lounge, The Mirage Las Vegas] and I are working on creating our own gins and vermouth. We’ve also made individual isolations of each botanical that we are using in neutral spirits, which allow us to pick and choose different flavors for on-the-fly combinations as well. It’s really interesting being able to work with many different flavors and seeing how they combine and interact with each other.

What are you doing different from the norm in your beverages?

I always do my best to cater directly to whomever I am serving. Cocktail menu isn’t doing it for you? Perfect – let’s create something off-the-cuff just for your individual taste! Anything I can do to make my guest’s overall cocktail experience the absolute best, even if that means making simple drinks extraordinary.

What’s the next hot trend in mixology?

I think that we will be seeing more revivals of some of the more obscure vintage and classic cocktails. More often now than ever we are seeing cocktails like one of my personal favorites, Remember the Maine, on drink menus under “classics.” Also, I think we’ll be seeing more wine - both fortified and not - in cocktails.

What’s in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?

I’ve been using quite a bit of the poached apple and winter spiced vermouth that we recently made. Not only do I think it is delicious, it pairs well with almost everything we have thrown at it!

What are you sipping on and why?

I’m a beer and a shot kind of guy. Lately I’ve been sipping on products from the Antique Collection from Buffalo Trace. Specifically, the 2015 William Larue Weller is my favorite for the moment. But on a normal night it’s a pilsner and good ‘ol Jack Daniel’s or Fernet Branca.

What are you dancing to while mixing?

At Parlor, we’re only open 5 days, 40hrs, which is awesome! Five of those 5 days we have live music, so whichever of our awesome musicians is playing that night.

What are some quirks/quotes you are known for? 

Our bar has quite an interesting environment; those of you who have been there understand it. Any given point in time we’re all cracking jokes (generally at the cocktail servers’ expense). The best part is our guests at the bar always hop in for some of the fun as well.

I also am known to purposely make certain people terrible tasting drinks for our own enjoyment. So, New Year’s Eve we’re wrapping the bar up after a busy night and one of our executives for the Mirage (who I will not name) comes in. We convince him that he has to taste this awesome new product we got: Malört. He wasn’t very happy with it. Later on I made him a tropical-looking drink, with a healthy serving of Malört in the straw. You can guess how that ended up!

What are your favorite beer styles? Do you have a go-to beer style for different occasions?

I’m really all over the place when it comes to beer. For just a normal beer, I tend to go for pilsners and lighter lagers. If I’m just having a beer or two, I’m all over the place. One new beer I was really impressed with was CrafthHaus’ wine cask aged quad. However, I’m also a huge fan of saison-style beers and Belgians as well.

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