Las Vegas knows it, and now so does the rest of the world.
Wednesday, August 3 2:15pm
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A guy opens a Las Vegas bar on a shoestring budget at the start of the Great Recession. Seven years later, he returns from the Academy Awards of bartending having been bestowed one of the greatest honors in the beverage industry. Of course, a lot happened at Herbs & Rye (3713 W. Sahara Ave., 702-982-8036, HerbsAndRye.com) between those two milestones. There were epic menu changes, multiple renovations, philosophical culture shifts, staff turnover and personal challenges. Progress came with a price, but not without a payoff, which came on July 23 when Herbs & Rye was named the Best American High-Volume Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail, America’s preeminent gathering of the spirits and bar industry.
“To be the first [Las Vegas bar] to ever make it to the Top 4 was enough for us. To actually win—it was surreal,” Herbs & Rye owner Nectaly Mendoza says. “I truly feel that it’s always been within our reach, we just had a tougher path than a lot of the other major cities. I always knew it was obtainable, I just didn’t know when or how we were going to get there, and now we’re here.”
“There are so many other things you can do [in Las Vegas] besides have cocktails. But, obviously, we’ve changed that now.” – Nectaly Mendoza, Herbs & Rye owner
In a sense, Mendoza just walked on Mars. In winning this Spirited Award, Herbs & Rye has put Las Vegas on a map that previously bore only such boozy hubs as New York, San Francisco and London, and paid little mind to what, if anything, was going on out here in the desert. And what’s been going on is that Herbs & Rye has hit its stride, consistently cranking out historically accurate classic cocktails (as many as 1,300 in a shift) alongside house-butchered steaks, and crisscrossing the world for popups and charitable efforts.