A cocktail at Piazza Lounge is not your usual Vodka cranberry. The guy behind the bar inside Tuscany Suites & Casino in Las Vegas is not your usual bartender.
Trained in Asian-style bar service, Andrew Yang’s creative approach to bartending appears effortless and elegant, his movements, from stirring to straining, artfully choreographed.
“In Asian-style bartending, they focus a lot on technique,” explains Yang. “It’s not really about how fast you put out a drink, it’s more about taking your time and making sure it’s a quality drink … and it isn’t just about how good you make a drink, it’s about serving guests the best you can.”
Yang began crafting drinks at this hidden gem, just off the Strip, two years ago. He has quickly gained recognition for his customized cocktails, created based on guests’ preferences. He enjoys introducing guests to classic cocktails, equating the art of craft cocktails to the art of cooking.
“It’s comparing flavors and figuring out what goes well together, and making a cocktail out of it,” he says. “Not a Jack and Coke. Something with fresh juices, different liquors, stuff like egg whites.”
Pausing to laugh, he adds, “maybe something set on fire.”
Although Yang’s bartending roots hail from Asia, he is American born, venturing to Taiwan after graduating from University of California, Irvine. He got his start in the liquor industry by chance through a friend he met while out on the bar scene. The job was a doorman at one of Taipei’s leading cocktail bars: Ounce.
Yang fell in love with bartending while watching the “rock star” bartenders from the entrance. So he trained behind the bar before and after hours, picking up tricks of the trade from Ounce’s best. It wasn’t long before he was a full-time bartender.
“The training process was hard, but I’m thankful for it,” says Yang, who recalls that he had to master pouring the precise amount required for a drink, or his trainer would dump it out, “right in front of the guest.”
Two years later, Yang guest-bartended at the world-famous 28 Hong Kong St. before moving to Las Vegas (by way of Los Angeles) to work at Tuscany Suites & Casino. His attentive nature and intuitive drinks quickly made an impression at the lobby bar.
“We hadn’t been sitting for more than a few seconds when Andrew Yang introduced himself as if we were all about to become fast friends,” recalls Stephanie Ceccarelli, a patron at the lounge. “He asked us to detail our favorite qualities in a drink. I said, ‘refreshing, not too strong and not sweet.’ My husband said, ‘smoky, earthy, subtle, and strong.’ That was it.”
The couple found that their drinks were spot on.
“Mine was Andrew’s version of a cucumber Vodka. It was basically my favorite drink without me having to tell him that,” Ceccarelli says. “My husband got some kind of old Scotch with a liqueur that he also loved as he loves old Scotches. We were so impressed with his ability to read our drinking style in just a few words.”
Piazza Lounge is located in the main lobby of the nearly 27-acre Tuscany Suites & Casino. The contemporary bar features live bands every night, a new special every day, and a great selection of spirits.
Whiskey enthusiasts will find a wide selection, carefully curated from the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Japan, and Taiwan, including Whisky Advocate’s Japanese Whisky of the Year Nikka Yoichi Single Malt. The expression from Hokkaido distillery is the only surviving Yoichi in the U.S. market.
“I love this bar,” says Yang. “This is a great place to come and try new cocktails and unwind and listen to great music. I wish I could come here on my days off but I don’t want people to see me. I don’t want my managers to be like, ‘What are you doing?’”
As for what this impeccable bartender drinks when he goes out …
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