Award-winning mixologist flying high at Fusion
By Jack Houston
Brazilian native Emilio Tiburcio might not hit the open skies as frequently as he did in his days with the Civil Air Patrol, but he’s still in rarefied air at The Palazzo’s Fusion Mixology Bar.
The mixologist earned his footing at Red Rock Resort on the west side of town working under Mark Kiyojima, who threw him into a mixology competition one day without warning. Although he didn’t win, the experience stoked a competitive spirit that led him to improve at his craft and, eventually, land a spot at Fusion.
“I always talk to the customer first, to get a feel for what their personality is,” Tiburcio said. “I will never make the same cocktail for two different people. Every one has to be a little different.”
So while the cocktail menu at Fusion is rooted in South American spirits like caçhaca, tropical flavors and fresh ingredients, he’s just as likely to whip up a vodka cocktail, or if you’re lucky, one of the drinks that helped him win the Amarula Experiment Throwdown in New Orleans or the Sun Burn, a mix of vodka, pineapple juice and muddled cactus that took home the top spot at Effen’s Art of Design competition.
Despite the accolades that continue to pile up, Tiburcio surprisingly says he’s not a big drinker.
“I drink wine, and I taste (cocktails),” he admitted. “If I counted—since I started my career in mixology—how many drinks I made for myself to enjoy, I would say one.”
Tiburcio wanted to create a special cocktail just for our shoot, so he trawled around behind the bar at Fusion, and in a few minutes, came up with The Perfect Rose. Meant to complement a special occasion, perhaps a proposal or anniversary, it delights the palate with vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh muddled strawberries and a touch of champagne, proving once and for all that not every rose has its thorn.