Chief mixologist ascends to high rank but stays grounded
Tim Weigel is quite the success story. Raised in a small town in North Dakota, he went from busing tables and washing dishes at a local restaurant to his current role as chief mixologist for Hakkasan Group U.S.—the company that owns many of Las Vegas’ biggest nightclubs, lounges and restaurants, including Hakkasan at MGM Grand, where you can find Weigel overseeing the restaurant’s cocktail program.
“Starting out as a dishwasher in high school ... was a good life lesson,” he said. “It taught me it’s not all about glamour, it’s about hard work.” And hard work is what he’s done. Weigel moved to Vegas in 1999, landing his first job waiting tables. When Aria was nearing completion, he had applied for a bartending position and was hired as part of the opening team. “That’s where the bug bit me—my passion for mixology and cocktails built up and I worked with a lot of people that were just as passionate,” he said. Weigel even competed in cocktail competitions for nearly five years—nationally and globally.
“Then I saw Hakkasan being built, and I knew that it was going to be something special,” he said. “So, I applied and was the lead bartender with the opening team.” Four years later, when it comes to all things cocktails for Hakkasan, Weigel is the go-to man.
“I have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m very lucky to be in the position that I’m in,” he said. “But in this industry you can easily let your ego get in the way. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to find balance and you have to work hard.”
Pisco in the Clouds
“We have a very extensive bar program—quite a few different base spirits we work with. I really like to find the small producers that are grassroots productions and give them a chance to shine in the cocktail. That makes me really happy,” said Weigel, who has created about 35 percent of the cocktails for Hakkasan’s U.S. venues, and about 65 percent of the cocktails at Hakkasan in MGM Grand. Weigel recently concocted new signature cocktails, inspired by different countries. The Pisco in the Clouds is a blend of La Diablada pisco, Asian pear shrub, blueberry liqueur, ube (purple yam), green apple, lemon bitters and Prosecco.