He stood there, waiting patiently. Then celebrity chef Robert Irvine finally came walking through the door. “I got starstruck,” says Juan Pereyra, bartender for Robert Irvine’s Public House at Tropicana. “I saw him standing there and was like, ‘Oh, my god!’ I wanted to take a picture with him.” Pereyra recalls that’s how he met his boss for the first time—he was a part of the opening team for the new restaurant.

“I’m a huge fan of Robert Irvine—me and my wife watch his shows on TV all the time,” says the Argentinian native. “If you’ve seen his shows, that’s what he’s like in real life. He’s really nice, very direct, and he’s a perfectionist.” And so is Pereyra when he’s behind the bar mixing cocktails.

It’s a profession he’s been pursuing for the past seven years. He began his bartending career in downtown Vegas, then moved over to the Hilton (now the Westgate), and four years ago, he joined Tropicana. He began outdoors at the property’s pool and eventually moved indoors, bartending at various spots around the property. When he heard that Public House was opening, he jumped at the chance to apply.

“When I go behind the bar, it’s like getting onstage,” he says. “It’s like something switches on. I’m confident behind the bar.” Pereyra also thinks it’s important to have fun—the self-proclaimed class clown loves to make his customers and fellow bartenders laugh. “You have to have a good time.”

Effen Irvine

“I’m not a great cook, but I’m good with cocktails,” says Pereyra. And Robert Irvine must have agreed, because Pereyra has one of his own cocktail creations on the menu—the Effen Irvine. It’s a refreshing, slightly sweet blend of Effen cucumber vodka, Bols elderflower liqueur, fresh-squeezed lime and simple syrup, and it’s topped off with a splash of soda. Guests can also indulge in Irvine’s own brand of healthy Boardroom Spirits (made from beets and carrots), or try his own reposado and anejo barreled tequila that he sourced from Hacienda Patrón in Mexico.