Many would be surprised to know that Craig Schoettler, the mixology master transforming cocktail creations on the Las Vegas Strip, began his career in the kitchen. Schoettler, an Atlanta native, comes from an epicurean background and received his degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island. After graduating, he moved to Chicago and began his career at Alinea Restaurant where he learned cocktail fundamentals and assisted in developing Alinea’s philosophy of balance between food and beverages. Next, he assisted in opening The Aviary, a renowned Chicago bar concept, where his love of cocktails came to life. Schoettler began transforming the beverage world by using his culinary background to create a new template in which to view liquid refreshments. This creative mindset led him to ARIA Resort & Casino where he now serves as property mixologist.
Schoettler’s most recent project is his partnership with Stillwater Artisanal Ales Founder Brian Strumke, who he worked alongside to create Cabaletta, a craft beer specifically brewed for ARIA. The beer will hit resort bars, lounges and restaurants in March. Schoettler shares insight about what guests can expect from Cabaletta along with his goals for ARIA’s beverage program:
Why did you create a beer specifically for ARIA?
I haven’t seen a personalized beer program of this nature done in Las Vegas and I wanted to give guests something they couldn’t find anywhere else. Cabaletta marks the first time Stillwater has created a signature blend for a particular brand and that to me is pretty special. It elevates the craft beer scene in Las Vegas.
How was the beer brewed?
I partnered with Brian Strumke, a nomadic brewer I met in Chicago. A nomadic brewer uses other breweries and equipment to brew their beer. To design Cabaletta, I traveled to Dog Brewery in Baltimore with Brian and we developed the beer together. We strove to brew an approachable product that would be pleasing to a wide audience yet complex enough to satisfy a more sophisticated palate.
What do you think makes Cabaletta unique from other beers available on The Strip?
Cabaletta has a unique yeast strand that draws flavors out of different hops, creating a multifaceted flavor profile. Stillwater does not currently have a large presence on The Strip and their style of craft beer is not widely sold here. Through Cabaletta, we can educate our guests on nomadic brews and be the gateway to introducing the public to unique beverages. When people come to Vegas, I want them to get something they can’t get back at home. This will give our staff the chance to show their knowledge and will ultimately elevate Las Vegas as a true beverage destination.
What is your vision for ARIA’s beverage program?
I’m working to redefine every venue’s concept ensuring that each has its own identity. I’m also focusing on training the staff so that they are equipped with the knowledge and confidence necessary to provide unparalleled service. It’s my job to make sure that they know everything that I know.
What is your personal drink of choice?
Champagne. After a long day mixing cocktails, I gravitate toward Champagne. I have always been a Champagne collector.