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avatar for J.R. Starkus

J.R. Starkus

Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits
District Manager, Brand Development & Resorts Mixology
J.R. Starkus has been a key player in Las Vegas’ cocktail industry for the last decade, most recentlyat Rick Moonen’s rm Seafood, where he worked as the lead barman at the critically acclaimedsustainable seafood restaurant in Mandalay Bay. Growing up in Southern California, Starkus sethis sights on Sin City at an early age, developing a keen interest in the culinary industry and theopportunities the city had to offer.Eager to explore the industry, Starkus landed his first position as a server, working at Chinois inThe Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in 1999. Shortly thereafter, he began his bartending career,after a co-worker didn’t show up for his shift, which ultimately changed his career path forever.From there he went on to work high above the Strip at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris LasVegas, where he spent seven years working as a co-lead bartender. In 2009, Starkus moved toAria Resort & Casino in City Center, and later to Todd English P.U.B. at Crystals at City Center.In 2012, Starkus began work with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as part of the Mixology Teamwhere he is now the District Manager of Brand Development and Resorts Mixology.Starkus is an advocate of Las Vegas’ cocktail culture. He draws much of his inspiration fromhis mentor, renowned mixologist Francesco Lafranconi and believes in utilizing seasonal andsustainable ingredients. Starkus is a seasoned competitor in the mixology competition circuit.In 2011-12, he took first place in several competitions in conjunction with the United StatesBartenders’ Guild, including the Campari Best Aperitivo Competition, Don Q Mix It Up UltimateMixology Challenge, the Ultimate Las Vegas Cocktail Competition and the Angostura BittersNational Competition. Starkus was also named “Best Mixology Ambassador” in Vegas Seven’s2012 “Best of the City” issue as well as being nominated for “Bartender of the Year” on threeseparate occasions. Starkus has passed the U.S.B.G. Advanced Bartender Exam, the Eighthperson in the country to accomplish this. Most recently he’s a graduate of the B.A.R.5-Day withthe highest level of certification, a certified Sake Professional and is also CRT certified by theMexican Accreditation Entity.When Starkus is not working, he can be found spending time with his family or watching his sonplay baseball. He also enjoys studying the history of cocktails with a bit of travel mixed in.J.R. STARKUSDistrict Manager, Brand Development& Resorts Mixology8