Andrew Tau went from living out of his car to working behind the bar at one of the Strip’s most upscale, fine-dining establishments. But it’s not the rags-to-riches story you might think.

Tau chose to live out of his car for two years while he rock climbed all over the U.S. and Canada (he did the same thing in Europe for three months). “I thought I’d do it forever,” said the Raleigh, N.C., native.

However, a move to Las Vegas began his career in bartending—something he didn’t plan on doing except to earn extra money. But he found that he had a natural talent for creating cocktails, and developed a passion for the industry, eventually working his way up the ranks in Vegas hot spots like Minus 5 Ice Bar, RM Seafood and Veranda. And, for the past two years he’s been in his current position as lead bartender at Picasso at Bellagio.

“Funny enough, friends took me here one night years ago. I looked around and thought, ‘This is the type of bar I want to work at one day.’ I appreciated the quality of the craftsmanship that went into each cocktail here,” he said.

Tau has been responsible for crafting and aging some of Picasso’s most-celebrated cocktails—he’s also grown the whiskey menu from 35 labels to roughly 170. “Having curated the cocktails and whiskey list, I love being able to introduce guests to new things,” he said. “I value the service component of bartending—giving guests a unique experience.”

The Blue Period

A huge collection of Pablo Picasso’s art lives on the walls of the restaurant. The sight of them alone could be reason enough to visit the restaurant. But Tau’s cocktails are equally an attraction, and it was Picasso’s works that inspired Tau’s creation of the specialty cocktail, The Blue Period. The cocktail starts with Plymouth gin that’s been infused with peeled cucumber, fresh basil and Kaffir lime leaves; it’s then mixed with fresh lime juice, simple syrup and club soda, all served over ice and garnished with cucumber slices and violas, adding that hint of blue-purple.