Friends With Benefits: Katherine Gonzales
In a city of constant change like Las Vegas, it’s nice to discover longevity and stability. That’s the name of the game for Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge bartender Katherine Gonzales. She’s been with the Bellagio hot spot since day one—11 years strong.
“I’ve worked my way up to the No. 1 seniority spot,” says the L.A. native. “I’ve been here the longest, the person beneath me, nine years. Sixty percent of the staff has been here since day one, which is really a testament to the place that we work. I just love the team—the management is great, Akira (Back) is a great chef ... the food is delicious.”
When Gonzales moved to Vegas in 2007, she’d already had four years of bartending experience under her belt. Although she worked at a couple of other spots on the Strip, it was after starting at Yellowtail that she’d define her Vegas bartending career. It’s not only been a job but a home to her ever since. “People have been coming back to see me for the past 11 years. It makes me so happy to be able to serve those people,” she says. “... I want to make sure I make the best cocktail you’ve ever had; I want the person wowed.”
When not wowing guests, Gonzales pursues her passion, like architecture and traveling. She studied architecture in college and loves do-it-yourself home projects; she’s also an avid world traveler, having journeyed to places like London, Rome, Mexico, and her top spot, Mykonos. “My favorite, to get another stamp in that passport.”
There are always a dozen specialty cocktails on the menu—some created by Gonzales—and, recently, new ones were added, including the Dragonheart. “It’s a sexy cocktail, really pretty and tasty, and gin is gaining popularity,” she says. The martini-style treat is mixed with Monkey 47 gin, Akira Back umeshu, prickly pear, pineapple and lemon juices, and cane sugar, then garnished with a slice of dragon fruit. “Simple ingredients can make a great cocktail. A lot of great cocktails, you don’t need to overcomplicate them—as long as it’s balanced properly and remember to shake vigorously, making the cocktail really cold,” she says.