Director of beverage has deep roots in Las Vegas
JJ Buchanan loves Las Vegas—it’s where he was born and raised, and it’s where he enjoys a successful career—today, Buchanan is the director of beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo. “Vegas is just such a big part of who I am,” he said.
It was in his hometown where he discovered a passion for the industry. His father, a longtime local and lawyer for more than three decades, opened a restaurant in 2007, “and working there got me interested in the business,” Buchanan explained.
Although his dad thought he would follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer, “the restaurant was something that me and my dad shared together and I ended up loving the industry,” he said. After his father’s restaurant closed, Buchanan decided to take a chance and make his mark on the Strip.
He started in at an entry-level management position at The Venetian and Palazzo and over the past five years has worked his way up the ladder. “I’ve always liked leading people,” he said. “I think it’s one of my strengths. And my team is responsible for most of my success.”
Buchanan’s main tasks are overseeing the beverage programs for both property’s pools, lounges, casino bars and the day club, Azure.
Buchanan and his team work with suppliers, plan out menus, invent new cocktails and stay on top of beverage trends; he’s even a level-two certified cicerone. “It’s always exciting and fun. To work on the Strip, in my industry—it just doesn’t get any better.”
Star of the Show
Buchanan is especially proud of the new cocktail menu offered this season at Azure. “We’re really proud of our pool club, and the cocktail menu we designed this season. It matches the ambience—the European feel of Azure. Fun, refreshing cocktails that everyone can enjoy.” One delicious selection from the menu is the Star of the Show. The cocktail—refreshing with a sweet and slightly spiced taste—mixes Patrón reposado tequila, Cinzano sweet vermouth, Fruitations grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, orgeat syrup and San Pellegrino Limonata. It’s rimmed with crushed Aleppo peppers, salt and lime.