Michael Quagge, lead VIP bartender at Green Valley Ranch’s Whiskey Beach (the property’s pool bar), is looking forward to getting everyone into a holiday spirit this month as the pool area transforms into Winter’s Village, complete with holiday-themed cocktails. It’s also a transformation of sorts for Quagge, who just a few years ago was working as a firefighter and EMT.

Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Quagge has spent the majority of his life in Vegas, receiving certifications as an EMT and Nevada Firefighter 1. While working an EMT shift at a dayclub—where he was stationed just in case anyone needed medical assistance—Quagge got a glimpse of the pool club lifestyle, and was hooked.

When he turned 21, Quagge applied at a casting call for the Hard Rock Hotel’s Rehab, getting a job as a barback. During his time there, he made many friends, some of whom taught him bartending skills. “There were world-class bartenders there, and I learned a lot from them.”

A year later, he was hired as a bartender at Green Valley Ranch. Within a year he had been promoted to lead VIP bartender. He’s very modest about his success. “Essentially what I do is, I’m just another bartender. These are all my friends I’ve been working with for a long time. It’s a family, and so basically my job is to lead by example. I offer suggestions, but I just try to be the best example to have everyone follow.”

His favorite part of the job is “just being out here, talking to the guests who come up. Sometimes they’re going through a rough time. Sometimes they’re going through a great time. I’m just here to help everybody have as great a time as possible.”

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Winter’s Village at Green Valley Ranch was so successful that it’s being expanded to Red Rock Resort this year as well. Featuring outdoor ice rinks and holiday-inspired activities, it’s a great way to celebrate the holidays. And The Whiskey Beach at Green Valley Ranch offers a great variety of holiday-inspired cocktails to help you get in the mood, including the Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice, a clever variation on the Sparkplug cocktail. It’s a refreshing blend of cold-brew coffee, Baileys Pumpkin Spice, Ketel One vodka and simple syrup. “It creates a nice, classic, festive feeling,” Quagge says.