In a major corporate move that is usually reserved for celebrity chefs, California mixologist Julian Cox has broken the glass ceiling for bartenders and has settled in Nevada to become the Executive Director of Beverage and Corporate Mixologist at MGM Resorts International.
In this role, he will lead cocktail menu development, bartender training, cultivation of MGM’s spirits collection, and managing liquor purchases across all properties on the Las Vegas strip, which include Bellagio, ARIA, Vdara, MGM Grand, Park MGM, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Mirage, New York New York, Luxor and the Excalibur.
“There are a lot of exciting things we’re working on that are going to be glamorous,” Cox, who has seen his share of business ups and downs, tells L.A. Weekly. “A symptom of this covid reality we’ve been living with is that my food-based business in California got completely decimated. I had to pivot, and that gave me hope in certain areas and a chance to move around and try different things during the pandemic to branch out, and ended up finding MGM at a really great time.”
The Newport Beach native has been the architect of celebrated cocktail programs at restaurants like Las Perlas, Redbird, Bestia, and Tartine Manufactory, and found his chops when he opened the legendary Comme Ça with David Myers. Most recently, Cox curated the fun movie-inspired cocktails honoring iconic Hollywood cinema like the All About Eve and Black Panther drinks at Fanny’s in the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
“Currently, I’m looking at the business side of things and expansions and corporate stuff, which isn’t as sexy as cocktail recipes,” he says. “I’m building a lab space at Aria with all sorts of specialty and scientific equipment to develop new ideas on the creative side. I want to be there to usher people in when we can walk around without masks again. I’m hoping to open the first project mid-year, but right now I’m just trying to figure out where all the bathrooms are.”