A lot has changed in the Las Vegas bartending scene since Eron Smith joined in. “A sophisticated cocktail to me, when we started 25 years ago, was like a screwdriver,” Smith said. “When you had to put more than three ingredients in a drink, bartenders used to roll their eyes. Luckily, when Bellagio opened, the whole scene changed.” And Smith was lucky to be a part of the team that helped open Bellagio in 1998; he’s been there ever since and is currently working as a bartender at the Petrossian Bar.

The Greensburg, Penn., native, started off bartending at Treasure Island, but when word got around that Bellagio was to open, he, like many others in the industry, decided to apply. Less than 20 bartenders were hired. “It was like winning the lottery, it really was,” he said. Smith spent nearly seven years working in the service bar before he moved over to Petrossian.

“It was the slickest bar in town,” Smith reminisced. “Everything that we were doing in this bar was so cutting edge at the time. Our original mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, elevated the whole profession, and it changed the entire scene in Vegas.” Over the years, Smith has also put his own stamp on the bar—you’ll find some of his own cocktails on the menu, and he’s become a familiar face to visitors who come back to see him and have a drink at the Petrossian, year after year.

“This room has really become ingrained in me,” he said. “… There’s a lot of great bars in town but there’s history here. We kind of think of ourselves as a hidden gem.”

Smiling RYE-LY

When you make your visit to Petrossian, try one of Smith’s newest creations, the Smiling RYE-LY. “This is my twist and homage to the classic New York Sour cocktail,” Smith said. Defining it as a long, sipping cocktail, Smith blended Jack Daniels RYE whiskey, Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, Velvet Falernum syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a float of Pinot Noir wine.

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