Friends With Benefits: Nick Barlow
Newly hired gourmet bartender Nick Barlow fits in nicely with the overall character of Oscar’s Steakhouse—an old-school joint with a vintage-Vegas vibe at downtown’s Plaza hotel and bears the name of Vegas’ one-time mayor Oscar Goodman.
Barlow is a third-generation Las Vegan; his grandpa was a silver miner and his father, to this day, works in the hospitality industry. As the gourmet bartender, Barlow brings with him many years of experience working at some of the city’s hot spots for spirits.
He worked his way up the ladder from barback to bartender, spending the biggest chunk of his time at the now-shuttered Public House at The Venetian. During more than seven years there, he immersed himself in all things alcohol, eventually becoming lead bartender and a certified cicerone. After a few more years, Barlow headed downtown and joined the team at Oscar’s Steakhouse.
“You can feel the buzz in the downtown scene and I feel the Plaza is at the heart of it,” he says. “And at Oscar’s you get to see the cool neon lights flashing while you’re enjoying the best steak in town.”
What Barlow loves most about the bar is “the interaction that I get to have with guests every single day,” he says. “I enjoy service. It’s fun to be able to make those connections and friendships and then to create something for them on the spot that’s original and delicious and watch them enjoy it—that’s the fun of it.”
But Barlow isn’t just behind the bar all the time. He and his wife are also bona fide West Coast swing dancers, and that fits in quite nicely with the old-school vibe at Oscar’s. Go see for yourself.
Many of Oscar’s signature cocktails have clever names—Jungle Bird, The D.A. and Consigliere—named after the mayor’s past as a lawyer to the mob. The Defendant is a poplar pick, mixed with Larceny bourbon, Bauchant orange liqueur, Angostura bitters, simple syrup and fresh lemon. “It’s somewhere between an Old-Fashioned and whiskey sour,” Barlow says. “You get the bitter element, the acidic, delicious fresh juice and that little bit of smooth Larceny whiskey that’s nice and soft on the palate. It’s a very approachable cocktail.”