Friends With Benefits: C.J. Garcia
C.J. Garcia wasn’t necessarily looking for a food and beverage job, but more than 12 years after getting into the industry, he loves his career as a bartender. You can find Garcia behind the bar at MGM Grand’s Greek Sneek.
Garcia started off as a barback while he was taking classes at UNLV, pursuing a degree in real estate law. Going to school during the day, Garcia would work at night, eventually moving up to a bartender position at various nightclubs. “I ended up loving bartending,” said the Las Vegas native. So much so, that he put college on hold and decided to give bartending a full-time shot.
Six years ago, Garcia decided he was done with the grueling nightclub hours and pursued a full-time bartending gig during the day. That’s when he was hired by Crush, Greek Sneek’s sister restaurant (Greek Sneek is like a hidden gem located inside Crush). When Greek Sneek opened last year, he transferred over to its bar. “I like the freedom we have behind this bar,” says Garcia, who has helped create some of the cocktails you’ll find on the menu. “We make really good Greek cocktails with fresh fruits and traditional ingredients.”
Garcia has expanded his love and knowledge for bartending and spirits by traveling to other cities and countries. He’s visited vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif., tasted Japanese whisky in Suntory, Japan, and explored tequila factories in Tequila, Mexico.
The restaurant’s bar menu is filled with cocktails that use fresh fruits, spices and ingredients; you can also find Greek cocktails that use traditional Greek spirits and liqueurs like the Greek Freek. The refreshing, slightly sweet-tasting cocktail with a hint of citrus is a blend of the Greek liqueur Skinos Mastiha, Don Julio tequila, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and muddled cucumbers.