Las Vegas Sun

May 19, 2019

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For the Love of Cocktails grows beyond the bar industry

For the Love of Cocktails

Last year’s For the Love of Cocktails mixologist crew celebrates at Skyfall Lounge.

Naturally, the annual For the Love of Cocktails gala presented by Back Bar USA and sponsored by MGM Resorts International and the United States Bartenders’ Guild is a must-attend main event for Las Vegans who work in the food and beverage industry. But over time, the celebration of libations and mixology has evolved into one of the city’s prized F&B events that attracts locals and Vegas visitors, including those who don’t work in hospitality.

“I would say that the first year had such a strong industry component as we were just getting off the ground, so we sold 600 tickets and about 80 percent were industry,” says Tim Haughinberry, founder of the influential marketing and consulting Vegas-based firm Back Bar USA. “Last year we did just shy of 1,000 with probably more than 60 percent industry, but when I say industry, it’s a large industry. It’s not just liquor distributors, it’s all these brands and professionals and people coming from other states.”

The fifth-annual For the Love of Cocktails Grand Gala is set for May 18 at Skyfall Lounge and the adjacent Rivea restaurant atop the Delano Las Vegas hotel tower, connected to Mandalay Bay. Ticket sales from the event will once again be donated to the Helen David Relief Fund for Bartenders Affected by Breast Cancer, a nonprofit organization founded by master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim that assists women in the bar industry nationwide.

Gala attendees will enjoy a decadent event with limitless craft cocktail samples created by mixologists from across the country along with gourmet cuisine from chef Alain Ducasse’s Rivea along with live entertainment and a few surprises. To kick things off, teams from different local venues will prepare a five-course wine dinner at Aureole at Mandalay Bay on May 17. Tickets for both events are available at

“We’ve been growing quite nicely,” Haughinberry says. “The Delano has been home base for five years in a row and it’s the perfect place. It’s really hard to find an ideal venue that holds a thousand people [because] you’re usually trapped in a ballroom or a pool where you lose the intimacy.”

The incredible views and dynamic environment at Skyfall and Rivea offer the right vibes for true cocktail enthusiasts to enjoy themselves as well as a celebratory atmosphere for the industry folks to get together.

“In this town, this is an event that brings all parties together. Bartenders from every hotel are all there supporting this cause and I love that part,” he says. “We love to say we created an event for bartenders to give back to bartenders, where we generate a lot of money that goes a long way.”