Drinking Smart with Bobby "G" Gleason - Master Mixologist

- interview by Sara Gorelick

If you are looking for Bobby "G" Gleason, you will find him behind the bar with his favorite mixing tool. "Assuming everyone has a mixing glass and tin, I can't live without my muddler because I enjoy using only the freshest of ingredients in my cocktails!" Bobby G, the Master Mixologist of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, loves that bartenders are going back to the classics. "I see a growing movement, not a trend, of people asking for and bartenders using premium spirits, fresh ingredients, and also the elements of spicy and savory to make cocktails," he says.

Bobby G is a world traveler who trains bartenders and consumers on Beam's extensive portfolio of spirits. He creates cocktail menus, trains staff on bartending methods and giving guests a better experience with the Beam brands. While training, Bobby G likes to be called a Mixologist, but when he is behind the bar making cocktails he likes to be called a bartender. "After all, a bartender is everyone's friend, right?" he jokes.

When Bobby G hosts a cocktail seminar, he heads straight to the local farmers market or supermarket to gather the fresh produce of the season. "I love to combine the fruits and vegetables with fresh herbs to make cocktails that get people thinking in different ways and introduce them to our brands," he notes. "I strive to make cocktails that anyone can make if they give it the time and love it needs."

Great training isn't the only important aspect of Bobby G's job. He also participates in a drinking program called "Drink Smart." "I like to say, 'Drink what you like, like what you are drinking, but know what you are drinking.' There are differences in spirits and those who do drink MUST know that there are decisions to be made."

Bobby G began his bartending career as a barback in Pompano Beach, Florida, admiring bartenders with bucketfuls of cash and beautiful women. In 1984, Bobby G took his first bartending job in Boynton Beach, Florida at Upper Limits, a part of Shooters on the Water. He left for Las Vegas in 1985, and bounced back to Miami to manage a club, then back to Vegas where he opened bars at the Mirage Hotel, Treasure Island and the Bellagio. Bobby G spent nearly seven years at the Bellagio's Fontana Bar. In 2005, Bobby G helped to open Italian restaurant Nora's Cuisine, which has won the best cocktail award in Las Vegas every year since. Bobby G began training at the Rio as a Beverage Specialist, was recruited as the Absolut Ambassador and finally propelled his relationship from the Bellagio to become the Master Mixologist at Beam Global Spirits & Wine.

One of Bobby G's favorite cocktails to mix is the Luscious Leopard, which he created at one of his first competitions. To this day, it is still known as the World's Most Sensual Cocktail.

The Luscious Leopard
  • 1 1/4 oz. Absolut Mandrin
  • 1/2 oz. Cruzan Mango Rum
  • 2 oz. Fresh Lemon Sour
  • 1 oz. Funkin Mango Puree
  • 1/2 oz. Alize Red Passion

Shake all but the Alize together with ice and strain into a chilled chocolate dotted cocktail glass. Slowly pour in the Alize so that it settles to the bottom. Garnish with a fresh Strawberry on the rim.

Bobby G has traveled all across the country and beyond. "I get to travel around the world and meet people from all walks of life," Bobby G says. "I have been to places that I would probably never have gone to if it wasn't for this job. Places like Tequila Mexico, Jarnac France, Windsor Canada, Aberdeen and Islay Scotland, London, Madrid, Italy, and Croatia... just to name some of the place I've been to this year." Being bitten by the travel bug means that Bobby G has a very busy work schedule, and his position has him working almost every day. "But I really love what I do and couldn't imagine anything else that I would like to be doing."

Sara Gorelick keeps a pen on hand at all times to write down ideas, cocktail recipes and innovative tips from top bartenders around the globe. She is a cocktail enthusiast who found a match to her MA in journalism writing about spirits and bartenders on BarNone and Examiner.com . By day, Sara is a spirits publicist in Manhattan at Colangelo & Partners  and at night enjoys shaking a beverage or two for family and friends.