Some people aspire to work on the Vegas Strip, some are there by chance and then there’s a small group that are destined to be there—like Rao’s bartender Renee Lusiani. “My mom was a cocktail waitress, and my aunt—my dad was a musician on the Strip, my uncle an entertainment director,” Lusiani said. “I’m a second-generation casino worker. It’s in my blood.”

Lusiani’s family moved to Vegas from Oakland, Calif., when she was a little girl. “It was really fascinating growing up here,” she said. “It was a really small city—tight knit.” Lusiani watched the city grow, especially the Strip, working at properties that have come and gone, like The Thunderbird and Sahara. It was at the Las Vegas Hilton (now Westgate) where she began her bartending career. She moved into management, spending several years running beverage departments at different hotels.

“But eventually I wanted to get back behind the bar,” Lusiani said. And that’s when she landed at Caesars Palace. “I’ve been with Caesars for 25 years now,” said Lusiani, who bartended at various spots all around the property before joining Rao’s as part of the opening team 10 years ago.

“The owners make it great for us; they’re fabulous guys,” she said. “With bartending—there’s so much different interaction, it’s fascinating to me. I’ve been doing this for 32 to 33 years in Las Vegas—it’s a lifestyle and I’ve come to love it. Bartending never gets old.”

Strawberry Spritz

Sitting at Rao’s bar, you might be lucky enough to catch Lusiani in mid-song. “Pretty soon I get everyone singing at the bar—everyone will join in,” Lusiani said. That’s just the type of bar she helps run—fun and welcoming. The cocktails are definitely worth the trip, too. Lusiani handcrafts some of the best cocktails around, like the Strawberry Spritz. On the menu for some time now, this cocktail continues to be popular in both the summer and winter months. It’s mixed with Absolut Elyx vodka, Prosecco, muddled strawberries and simple syrup and served over ice. Simple, yes, but so, so delicious.

This Friends With Benefits is powered by ABSOLUT.®