Ask anyone who knows Joe Pereira and they will agree that is just a straight up a good dude. One of the key members of the award-winning and highly adored Las Vegas bar, Herbs & Rye, Joe pretty much always has a smile on his face.
Being part of America’s Best High Volume Cocktail Bar 2016 alongside the man, Nectaly Mendoza, doesn’t phase Joe; he is just happy to deliver a different aspect of hospitality to Sin City. You can typically find him selfie-ing around whatever city he is in with pretty much everyone and anyone.
We wanted to hear a little bit about all of his favorite things and where he actually thinks you should drink in Vegas. So without further ado, let’s go drinking with Joe Pereira.
Drinking with Joe Pereira from Las Vegas’ Herbs & Rye.
State your occupation for the Record.
Ambassador of Goodwill and Bartender at Herbs & Rye in Las Vegas.
Tell us a bit about the great Herbs & Rye.
It is our hole in the wall that happens to be a hospitality industry and local favorite. We serve historically accurate cocktails and certified black Angus steaks to the soundtrack of classic lively soul music in a dimly lit, warm place. It is equally appropriate for a romantic date night and the party of the year for a group. That’s Herbs & Rye.
How did you get started in the hospitality biz?
I was a dishwasher for a year in high school during the ’80s in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, near where I grew up. It was a Friendly’s Ice Cream joint in the mall. From there, I moved up to the grill and then became a server.
What is your current drink order?
Depends on the place. If it is a fancy bar, I’ll order a Last Word. In a Steakhouse, it would be a Gin Martini 50/50. And an everyday bar, it’s a G&T (Gin & Tonic).
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee! Twice a day, everyday. I go to Makers & Finders here in Vegas. I like my coffee sweet and light.
Tell us about your first boozy experience.
I was at a party in Kingston, Rhode Island at the University of Rhode Island in the 1990’s. We were doing shotguns of beer and shots of gin. The next morning, I woke up in the woods near the campus cold and afraid. I thought there was a deer near me, but it turned out to by my girlfriend at the time (laughs) … strange things happened. Then, I fell in love with gin and my girl left me.
What is your hangover remedy?
A bowl of Pho, fresh limeade with a teaspoon of salt and a shot of tequila. From there, I crash on the couch and watch a couple of episodes of ‘Star Trek Next Generation.’ Works every time!
What is your Death Row drink?
1995 Sassicaia Super Tuscan.
If you could have drinks with anyone dead, alive or fictional, who would it be and what would you be drinking?
Muhammad Ali. Drinking…tea. I would have tea with Ali.
Who is your favorite industry person for a wild night of drinking?
Easy: Mathias Simonis. Hands down!
What is your bartending theme song?
Rush, “Red Barchetta” 100% all the way.
What is your key to the perfect Selfie?
Catch the random moments, not the perfect ones.
What are some of your favorite bars around the country?
- In Chicago: California Clipper
- In Miami: Sweet Liberty
- In NYC: Employees Only and Saxon & Parole
- In Austin: Nickel City
- In LA: Harvard & Stone
- In Boston: Eastern Standard
- In my hometown New Bedford, Mass: Cultivator Shoals
- In my beloved Washington, DC: Service Bar
Joe’s Las Vegas recommendations:
- Dive Bar – The Sand Dollar for Live Blues & Bourbon
- Let’s get it on night – Sky Bar Mandarin Oriental Hotel. If you can’t close the deal with whoever you are with after going to this bar, end that relationship and start over.
- Drunk eats – Pho Kim Long!
- Nightclub fist-pumping – XS!!
What is your pick for that “Only in Las Vegas” experience?
The Neon Light Museum is amazing!!!!
Do you have any advice for young guns entering the industry?
Bar back for at least one year. Do the work, grunt it out, and be the best at it! Even after you have paid your dues, never be too proud or arrogant to do the dirty work. Seriously, I have stuck my hands in toilets to unclog them. At Herbs & Rye, I have cleaned an entire three-well bar, restocked, juiced five gallons for prep, washed the floors and cut the fruit, all by myself. It took me 9 hours to do it, but I did it. After my shift, I turned around and closed that night 11 hours later for $150.00 bucks. Not once, but often. Hard work kids, hard work.
I’m not the best a making cocktails, but I’m pretty damn good at making sure that my guests have a great time and keep coming back. The mixology between you and your guests is way more important than what you mix, stir or shake in a glass. Remember that and be sure to give sincere hospitality to EVERYONE not just our industry family.
Joe’s Lil’ List ‘O Advice
- Study your BarSmarts and go as far as you can go with it, then share that knowledge.
- Join USBG and join P(OUR).
- Learn to create cocktails with 4 ingredients or less.
- Travel to expose yourself to new things, ideas, people and places.
- Take care of your health and have balance
- Make new mistakes and be kind to yourself.
In closing, if all you know is bartending, then you don’t know bartending at all. Patience & Fortitude as Giuseppe Gonzalez would say.
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