Bartender at Westgate Las Vegas keeps it old-school cool
After nearly three decades being a bartender, Mike Thompson still follows one piece of advice he was given when he was first starting out: “Own your establishment,” he says. “Work the bar like it’s yours; take ownership of it. It makes a big difference.”
And when you walk through the doors of Edge Steakhouse at Westgate Las Vegas, you really feel like you’ve walked into Thompson’s own bar—he makes guests feel immediately welcome and at ease.
Thompson’s résumé is quite impressive—he’s bartended from New York to London to Dubai; he’s snagged second place in a bartending competition in Venice, Italy; he’s helped run the bar program at one of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s New York establishments—yet, he’s a down-to-earth, humble and friendly guy.
He moved to Las Vegas six years ago and has been with Westgate three of those years. Vegas is home now, he says, even though he’ll be quick to tell you his heart belongs to New York (where he was raised most of his life, and you can hear it in his accent).
One of the things he loves about being a Las Vegan is that it’s easy for him to hit the open road on his Harley. “I love riding; it’s my stress reliever,” Thompson says. So far, he’s visited 40 states across the country. “The Harley and the highway is my happy place.”
Thompson makes the bar at Edge Steakhouse a happy place for his guests. “I’m more of an old-school bartender,” he says. “Quick with a joke, light up your smoke and have a little conversation while I’m stirring you a Manhattan. … It’s all about the connection.”
30-Day Barrel-Aged Manhattan
Thompson will tell you himself—he’s a big bourbon guy. While he’s created many delicious, seasonal cocktails for Edge’s bar menu, he’s especially happy to offer the 30-Day Barrel-Aged Manhattan that he recently created. It’s like a classic Manhattan but with a little something extra, Thompson says. Together he barrel-aged Pappy Van Winkle’s 10-Year Rip Van Winkle bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye (for the spice), Carpano Antica Formula vermouth and orange bitters. Thompson also created a house-made cinnamon whiskey; make sure to take a taste of that deliciousness,