It all started with wine for Lukas Pesek, general manager of Spago at The Forum Shops at Caesars. While he was growing up in Prague, his family was big into dining, and when Pesek began drinking wine, his dad had one rule: When Pesek ordered a glass, he was not only to drink, but to describe flavors, look and aromas. “From an early age, I learned about food and beverage,” Pesek said. “I would write all the stuff down in a notebook, write about the experiences.”

That prompted Pesek to attend hospitality school in Switzerland. He eventually managed restaurants in locales like Mexico City and Miami. But when he moved back to Prague, it was a chance meeting with a UNLV professor that put him on a path to Las Vegas. “I served him wine at the Four Seasons I was working at,” Pesek recalled. “After talking for a while, he said, ‘Someone like you needs to go to Las Vegas. I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve never met someone more passionate about what they do.’ So, I moved Vegas and enrolled in UNLV’s hospitality program.”

Pesek’s first job in the city was at Spago in 2008. From there he moved throughout Wolfgang Puck’s Las Vegas restaurants; then he helped open Puck’s restaurant in Dubai. After living there 18 months, he rejoined Spago last year. “For me, it’s like coming back to my roots; it’s special to me,” he said. “Spago—since it opened in 1992, it’s been a dining experience that guests never forget.”

Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned

This specialty cocktail is what Pesek calls, “a piece of heaven in a glass.” Three rye whiskies, one bourbon and demerara syrup,are mixed, and poured into a big oak barrel, where it’s aged for at least 30 days. “The syrup almost turns to a honey-like consistency during the aging process, leaving this perfectly sweet hint; and the alcohol flavoring steps away and allows natural flavors to shine through,” Pesek said. The Old Fashioned is then poured over a big chip of ice from a block of ice made from high-end, purified water. The cocktail is finished with a sprinkling of orange bitters and a Maraschino cherry.