Emily McDonald was born and raised just a couple hours outside of Chicago, in Bloomington, Ill. She graduated from the University of Illinois, and after graduation stayed in the area and worked for nearly a decade at a promotional marketing agency that worked with spirit brands. By 2014, she needed a change of scenery, she said. “So I moved to Las Vegas to help open SLS,” McDonald said. “I’ve enjoyed the fact that it was a step outside of my comfort zone.”

McDonald has only continued to grow professionally. Since she’s been with SLS Las Vegas, she’s been promoted from a shift manager role to beverage operations manager to her current role as senior food and beverage operations manager at the hotel-casino.

“As a smaller company, there’s opportunity for upward growth and movement,” she said. “It is very family oriented; it’s tighter knit and you’re not just a number. You become close with all the departments, too. … In my role, I make sure that things are running smooth across all the platforms—working with all the managers with heavy focus on beverage, bars and cocktail severs on the casino floor. But I’m also face to face with guests on a regular basis.”

Despite nearly a dozen years of experience in managerial roles, McDonald feels like she’s just getting started. “I myself am still learning, which is great, because it keeps things fresh and challenging,” she said. “It keeps me growing and pushing past my comfort zone, and that makes me happy.”

Monkey Suit

McDonald shares something in common with the Monkey Suit cocktail: Both have been at SLS Las Vegas since day one. In fact, said McDonald, the cocktail was taken off the menu for a short while to test new cocktails. But it was so popular—people kept ordering it anyway—that it was eventually added back to the menu permanently. You can order the cocktail at any one of SLS’ lounges and bars. The cocktail is mixed with Maker’s Mark, sweet vermouth, banana liqueur and a dash of black walnut bitters. Then it’s garnished with a Filthy Food brandied cherry and a banana slice that has been coated in sugar and brûléed.