To be served a drink by one of the world’s best mixologists means that you’re about to indulge in a perfection of craft. To share said drink with such a person means that you’re about to engage in some quality conversation.
Amidst a vibrant room soundtracked by clinking glasses and excited chatter, Rob Floyd, master mixologist-bartender, is letting this very scenario play out for me. We’re both in Las Vegas — a city where you could say the drinks are flowing more than the money out of each casino patron’s wallets — and the energy of the scene is fueling our discussion.
The details of Floyd’s Vegas stay coincide with his involvement with Pepsi’s launch of a unique, sophisticated new beverage, “1893,” and Caesar’s Palace’s 50th anniversary. For the festivities, his expertise lent a hand to four exclusive cocktails in celebration of the occasion, adding to the enticement of the gala.
“Specifically, 1893 goes back in time and uses really simple ingredients. Now what I wanted to do for the cocktails for the festivities is that I wanted to give everybody a different flavor profile. First, I wanted to make it simple, so you can make it at home and have a great experience. Secondly, I wanted to have something for someone who loves spicy. Spice releases dopamine in the body. It gives you that natural pleasure, that rush.”
When it came to picking his brain about the good, the bad, and the ugly about cocktails and bartending, Floyd obliged and was scrupulous with his knowledge.
“Cocktails are binary — they’re either good or bad. And unfortunately, most of them are bad. So if you’re able to go back to the basics and make a great, simple cocktail, with bright colors and flavors to it, that’s something that somebody can make at home, you’ve really achieved something.”
Why do we love this? What makes us want to make this drink?
Such commentary about going back to the basics, was straightforward advice from the guru himself; albeit advice that I didn’t readily expect from the showman who’s been known to make some otherworldly concoctions.
“I can make a great cocktail — so what. What is that ‘why’? Why do we love this? What makes us want to make this drink?”
So a great drink needs to be simple, have good character, and include an interesting story behind it? Noted. I mean I do remember that one time I named one of my own half-baked home concoctions, “100 MPH,” in honor of the exact speed I got slapped with a ticket for that morning. It was a hit with my party guests.
Floyd continued, “Reaching someone, empowering them, that’s something that drives me everyday.”
And that mindset is a reason why he had linked up with Pepsi and Caesar’s Palace in the first place. Using both brands’ significant reach, he was now able to influence more of the everyday individuals who endeavor to learn the art of mixology.
For the many wondering what a master mixologist’s go-to drink would be at the bar, or what he’d have in his collection, Floyd divulges, “At home I usually have either a great rye, a great bourbon — I usually go a little dark — or I’ll go with a mezcal. I’ve been into mezcals lately, they’re dynamic and fun.”