Friends With Benefits: Michael Harding of BLT Steak at Bally's
As a bartender, Michael Harding has worked in some pretty cool spots. He’s bartended on the Hawaiian island of Waikiki. He was behind the bar aboard a Norwegian cruise line. He helped open the bar Trader Vic’s near the famous Staples Center in L.A. And for the past five years he’s been with BLT Steak at Bally’s, where he also bartends on Sundays during the restaurant’s famous Sterling Brunch.
“I’m fortunate enough to work the Sterling Brunch a few times a month,” Harding says. “The food is top shelf, and, of course, the bottomless champagne and bottomless bloody Marys. … You don’t come to this brunch unless you wanna have a good time. The champagne is flowing. Everyone’s in good spirits. And everybody waddles out of here happy.”
Behind the bar, Harding loves meeting new guests and tailoring cocktails to their specific tastes. “With cocktails, I like to know what people usually like and then go from there—find out what spirits and flavors and then make suggestions and tailor the cocktail to their tastebuds,” says the California native. “Once you get past the basics of making cocktails, it gets into what separates you from other bartenders. It’s gonna be your personality. You want to have relatability and be able to feel people out. People who don’t want to talk, people that do want to talk. People who want quick service, not so quick service. People who know what they want versus people who want to hear the whole menu. It’s about understanding your guest.”
Besides bartending, Harding is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, scoring national commercials for brands like Budweiser; he’s also modeled in runway shows for brands including Nike. Harding also dabbles in amateurphotography and loves playing sports outdoors like soccer and basketball. Above all else though, “being a good father to my daughter,” he says with a smile.
G.H. Mumm champagne
G.H. Mumm Bottomless champagne. Sound good? Well, the G.H. Mumm champagne flows freely and continually at BLT Steak’s Sterling Brunch, a Las Vegas institution. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Sundays, the never-ending champagne pours are accompanied by mounds and pounds of Alaskan king crab legs, shucked oysters and lobster tails. Load up on made-to-order omelets, truffled mashed potatoes, charcuterie and Belgian waffles, and desserts including fruit tarts, chocolate truffles and chocolate-covered strawberries.