November 2016 Bartender of the Month: Tim Rita

Tim Rita crafting an ice sphere by hand, and by knife.

Name: Tim Rita

Establishment: Ice Breaker at T-Mobile Arena and Mixologist at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

About the Bartender: Tim Rita is a leading Las Vegas bar chef and mixologist originally from the island paradise of Honolulu, Hawaii. He brings a fresh tropical style to every cocktail he creates. Tim’s accolades include being named one of Beverage Media Group’s 10 Bartenders to Watch in 2014 and serving as a Tales of the Cocktail CAP member in 2014.

In 2013, Tim represented Hawaii in the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition. Just recently, he placed second in the Don the Beachcomber's World's Best Mai Tai Competition. In addition to his many other accomplishments, he won Best Cocktail for the Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits Academy of Fine Spirits & Service in September of 2016.

Why did you become a bartender?

I lived a life working for a luxury retailer for too long and I just needed a life change.

What made you want to work at the bars at which you’re currently bartending?

The T-Mobile Arena was presented to me by my longtime friend and mentor Tony Abou-Ganim. He designed a high volume craft cocktail program that needed a bartender who was not only versed in craft cocktails but with craft ice experience. Lucky for me that was my specialty! And the Cosmopolitan was one of those iconic places that I've always admired and wanted to be a part of.

 

How long have you been working at your current bartending gig? What keeps you there?

At the T-Mobile Arena, which has been open since April of this year, I am at the Goose Island Lounge where the key focal point is the craft ice program. It's basically like being a race car driver with the finest, fastest cars!

What are some fun flavors you’re working with?

These days the challenge is finding a fresh source of what I used to have when I was in Hawaii. Fresh calamansi and passion fruit are almost impossible to get in the desert!

What are some of the unique spirits and ingredients you’re playing with?

Recently, to complement our perfect ice we work, we've brought in fine Japanese whiskies from the Suntory portfolio, and also great American selections as well. So, it's definitely not your typical sporting arena bar: we carry the finest spirits like you'd find at any of your luxury bars.

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

As I mentioned, being able to utilize fresh chipped ice with each craft cocktail you make for you guest is such an amazing tool and amenity for a bartender.

What do you feel is the next hot trend in mixology?

Craft ice, and really incorporating speed and precision to craft cocktails. Anyone can take 5-10 minutes to build a masterpiece but by then even the savvy cocktail geek gets a little, how do you say, “impatient.” Like any trend, it's always been done before, just forgotten. All it takes is a person with confidence to lead the charge.

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

Whenever you ask me what's my favorite cocktail, I'll always share my love of a Mai Tai.

What are you sipping on?

Recently it's been a lot of Cognac. Hardy to be exact.

What are you dancing to while tending bar?

“All the Things I've Done” by The Killers and “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men.

What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?

My smile sometimes looks like a frown...

What excites you about beer trends right now?

Excite is a tricky word. Personally, I love to see small craft breweries do well, such as Maui Brewing Company from Hawaii. Also, the responsible breweries and bars that educate their consumer properly.
 

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