A chat with ARIA Resort and Casino's property mixologist Craig Schoettler reveals a truly remarkable passion for and knowledge of his craft. Little wonder that Schoettler has already made such an impact on the prestigious Las Vegas Strip property's beverage program since his arrival last August.
"Mixology would be the art of crafting the cocktail," said Schoettler. "Here at ARIA, I'm responsible for the cocktail menus; the spirits menus; the beers menus for all of the restaurants and bars." In short, anything that you drink other than wine at ARIA— with the exception of its leased restaurants and nightlife venues — falls under Schoettler's umbrella (literally, in the case of certain cocktails).
Schoettler made his name at some of Chicago's most progressive bars and restaurants, including Drumbar and Aviary, before his move to ARIA. Declared "Beverage Professional of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune in 2011, he credits his culinary education and background as central to his success, especially in the selecting of produce and pairing of cocktails and food.
While Schoettler's ARIA role goes far beyond just designing and refining cocktails (he also deals with vendors, marketing, public relations, staff training, quality control and new concept design), he still finds time to be creative.
"Mapping out the season and what I think of when I think of spring — what flavor profiles, what produce, and then what spirits make me think of that," he explained. "And then constructing cocktails based on what outlet I need to do it at."
Schoettler takes great care to give each of "his" eleven restaurants and six bars at ARIA its own distinct personality. He has re- designed bars, changed up cocktail menus, trained staff to ensure consistency of cocktails across the property and even introduced a proprietary craft beer called Cabaletta.
"Every day, we're refining," he concluded. "There's always more we can do and there's always a better way of doing it."