One bartender who didn't show up for work at Chinois 13 years ago led to J.R. Starkus' career behind the bar. That first gig opened his eyes to the cocktail industry, where he's climbed his way to the top as the lead barman at RM Seafood, Rick's Moonen's sustainable seafood restaurant at Mandalay Bay. Now he find inspiration from mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim to make libations such as the Tangerine Honey, Totally Stober and Standard Pollard-cy, now considered must-haves at RM Seafood. This year along, he's taken first place in three local competitions in conjunction with the United States Bartenders' Guild, including the Campari Best Aperitivo Competition, Don Q Mix It Up Ultimate Mixology Challenge and the Ultimate Las Vegas Cocktail Competition. Here he shares 10 things you might not have known about his friendly face behind the bar.
1. I hate the cold, give me 110 degrees any day!
2. I won a new car on The Price Is Right with Bob Barker.
3. I moved to Vegas at 21 years old to be a food server.
4. I never planned on being a bartender. I learned completely from watching those around me.
5. I bought my first house at 21 years old with my brother, he was 19.
6. I am more of a "homebody" than night owl.
7. I am still quite a little boy at heart. I love sharing those moments with my son J.T.
8. I am extremely competitive. I always say "second place is just the first loser."
9. I couldn't change the tire on a car unless I looked it up on YouTube first.