Friends with Benefits: Erik Kluever at The Venetian in Las Vegas

Erik Kluever, head bartender at Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian, fills the conversation with thoughtful information about the bartender and the restaurant. (I guess his UNLV studies in literature, psychology and philosophy weigh heavily.)

Kluever became a bartender in 2015 due to his love for spirits. He rose through the ranks and eventually added popular craft cocktail bars, such as Oak & Ivy and The Laundry Room, to his resume. Then he got wind of the position at Delmonico. “I know a lot of bartenders who have been through here and done great things, and this bar program is known in my industry,” he says. He was hired in December.

“Bar programs where it’s all about the head bartender don’t succeed because the staff doesn’t feel appreciated,” he says. “It’s not about executing my cocktails, my vision. So when I took over, I said, “This isn’t Erik’s show.” At the end of the day, I want everyone invested and everyone in this. And it’s true, together Kluever and his staff have created an impressive menu.

In addition to making cocktails, it’s all about conversing with the guests. “I like to think of myself as a goose where I don’t leave my house,” he says. “Barnacles, they stay at home but yet they travel the world. I stay at home and people come here from all over the world. »

It’s a testimonial from Delmonico, a 20-year-old institution on the Strip. “We’re part of the routine for customers when they come to Vegas — they always have certain things to do and we’re part of that,” Kluever says. “It’s a testament to the hospitality, the service, the program. I respect that. I want to be part of it. I want to learn from this.

And learn that Kluever did and still does, he says. With his passion for spirits, bartending, and conversation, there are a few things you might learn when you sit at his bar, too.

Libation: the view on the tape

When you get your hands on a specially crafted bourbon (you can only get it at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico and the New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand), you let that spirit shine. That’s exactly what Kluever did when he created The Strip View. The unique cocktail is a riff on the classic Vieux Carré. The base spirit is an exclusive WL Weller Antique 107 Single Barrel Select bourbon, matured for eight years and four months at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. It is blended with cognac, sweet vermouth and yellow chartreuse.

Benefit from: For a whiskey or spirits tasting, ask about the private chef’s table. (It can also be paired with food!)

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