MGM Resorts announced yesterday that Julian Cox will be stepping up as their executive director of beverage and corporate mixologist starting this month.
Cox is a nationally renowned hospitality consultant and bartender whose lengthy career spans projects in Chicago, Austin, and Los Angeles, where he got his start and gained notoriety, earning multiple James Beard award nominations over the years. He’s worked with beloved LA restaurants like Tartine, Bestia, and Otium, as well as the enormously successful Lettuce Entertain You Hospitality Group, which operates more than 120 restaurants across the country.
Cox is known for drinks like the Barbacoa, a chipotle-spiced, mezcal-based cocktail that became a modern classic during his time at LA’s Rivera. He plans to bring this approachable vibe to Vegas.
“In some other markets, sometimes people take it a little too seriously,” Cox said. “We’re not curing cancer, you know? Las Vegas knows how to have fun with it. There’s a lot of really talented people, and the technique is great, but it’s also really fun, and that’s a nice change.”
Cox was tapped for the MGM position last year when he was in town helping develop the bar program at Boom Bang Fine Food & Cocktails, which opened in November 2021. He relocated to Vegas full-time in December.
In spring of 2021, Cox returned to Los Angeles after more than 5 years away to open a minimalist cocktail bar called The Hideout. The bar was well-received but unexpectedly shuttered in April when the health department ordered it to close immediately after realizing they were operating with the wrong permit.
“This was all happening kind of as [governor of California Gavin Newsom] was opening things up,” Cox said. “People were coming out and it was the first time in more than a year that they’d had a cocktail made by a professional. It was really emotional and fun, and then to have it forced to shut down, was a painful experience and I got left holding the bag.”
Cox said the untimely end of The Hideout is part of what drew him to take this position at MGM Resorts.
“I knew that there was something else out there, but at the same time … the sting of having to close [The Hideout] was an indicator to me that it would be great to have the backing of a company like MGM,” he said.
According to Cox, he’ll spend the early part of this year focusing on training bartenders and getting a few in-the-works project off the ground. Las Vegans should look out for his touch on new concepts starting at the end of the year.