Wendy Verdel Hodges

1. How long have you been a bartender, where do you currently work?

I have been behind the bar for 22 years. Currently working at Fusion Mixology Bar in the Venetian/Palazzo (Las Vegas) for the last 5 years.

2. What advice would you give novice/at home bartenders?

Don’t ever be afraid to experiment! Try new things. Always use fresh ingredients. And most importantly, just like any good chef…taste what you create as you are creating it!

3. What is your favorite bar tool or bartending skill?

That’s a tricky question… my best bartending “tool” would be me! Every good bartender/mixologist should have an extensive knowledge base, but more importantly they should love being around and talking to people. Part of the talking part of that is what I use to get to know my guests’ likes, dislikes, and allergies. That way I’m able to hand craft one of a kind cocktails that blow them away every time!

4. What is your favorite part about working in this industry?

My favorite part about my career is creating new cocktails, meeting interesting people, trying new products and spirits, constantly learning in the ever changing spirits world, and sharing my knowledge with others!

5. What are some of your go-to spirits in cocktail creation?

PISCO!!! Definitely my favorite spirit. The versatility of the aromatics and flavors in pisco are very inspirational.

6. What are some of the ingredients you tend to use in your signature cocktails?

I love to use a variety of bitters, fresh fruit and juices, and infused spirits and syrups.

7. Any bartending techniques/trends you would like to share?

House made ingredients are a lot of fun to work with. Creating new syrups, bitters, and mixers are a great way to bring cocktails to life.

8. What is your favorite cocktail to make?

I love making Pisco Sours and variations of them. I always stay true to the Peruvian style pisco sour but I like to tweak it by making different macerados with the pisco and infusing the syrups used to give this wonderful classic a new “look”.

9. What is your favorite cocktail to drink?

I’m quite simple when it comes to what I’m drinking…La Diablada Pisco on the rocks please! And if I’m somewhere that doesn’t carry my favorite spirit, I will often imbibe other spirits on the rocks as well. Whiskey, Gin, Vodka… you name it. I love the different flavor profiles that spirits offer and prefer not to mask them when I’m drinking them.