Sitting at the bar at Mercato della Pescheria inside The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian is like being whisked away to a coastal town in Italy. Ryan Kelimoff says it was planned that way. As the corporate beverage advisor for V&E Restaurant Group, the operator of Mercato, it was Kelimoff’s job to create the atmosphere at the bar, and all the cocktails that go with it.

“What’s really important is the Italian influence in everything,” says the San Diego native. “There’s an Italian twist to every cocktail. I scoured the city for high-quality ingredients.”

His attention to detail when it comes to libations is no surprise—he’s long had a penchant for creating cocktails. Kelimoff, who has more than two decades in the industry, started out as a busboy in a quick-service restaurant and moved up to bartender when he turned 21. Kelimoff really honed his craft once he moved to Vegas in 2005, working at some of the city’s finest establishments. He began working on Mercato’s program in 2015. Last year, he obtained his cicerone certification and is currently working towards his sommelier certification.

“Twenty-one years strong working in the industry and I love it more and more,” he says. “Creating an experience for people, it’s important, especially in this town when you have so many options. You don’t want them to have a meal and a beer and move on. I want them to come back. It’s the ultimate compliment to see a guest twice in this city.”

Italian Highball

This cocktail is reason enough to pay a visit to Mercato della Pescheria. It’s perfect for the summer season, and seriously delicious enough that you’ll want to order more than one, Kelimoff’s Italian Highball is a blend of Skyy Infusions Georgia peach vodka, Aperol, white peach purée, fresh lemon and San Pellegrino blood orange soda. It’s simply magnifico!