‘That’ll be vodka-Red Sox over easy’ by Max at MGM Grand

May 3, 2011 6:00 AM

The best bartender in Las Vegas can be found behind the bar at the MGM Grand race and sports book serving vodkas and winning opinions on bets.

He truly is The Most Interesting Man in the food and beverage world and doesn’t even drink Dos Equis. He is simply known as "Max."

"I’m going on 18 years at MGM," said the native of Providence, Rhode Island, whose dialect is so New England that you know right from the get-go he’s a diehard Boston fan.

"Celtics won, Bruins won, Red Sox won…I’m happy," Max said when GamingToday dropped by for a chat last Wednesday. "I’ve been doing all right with my bets. I don’t deal with parlays, just straight bets. Hit three games out of four and you’re ahead of the game."

Max first arrived in Las Vegas in 1981 and earned his chance at bartending 25 years ago at the old Tower of Pizza on the Strip. But it’s at MGM where he has become an iconic figure and my very first contact when deciding to make Vegas home 16 years ago.

"I came out here for the weather and there was nothing going on back East," Max said. "The big change between when I started at MGM and now is there aren’t many high rollers left. Today, we’re catering to everybody."

Max has served up a lot of drinks, but it’s the conversation and personality that set him apart. He knows a lot about a lot things and people. "Deep Throat" has got nothing on him.

"I’ve seen a lot of celebs like (Wayne) Gretzky, (Michael) Jordan and (Mike) Tyson," Max said. "Charles Barkley came by here a few times. He had a Diet Coke. That was cool."

What’s compelling about Max is he’s been a constant in an industry glamorized years ago in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail that’s forever changing with turnover. Not so here.

"There really isn’t turnover if you do your job," Max says. "Do good things and it all comes around."

Max said he turned down some offers to move to different parts of MGM because he enjoyed the energy from being at the sports book bar.

"I guess I’m the last of a dying breed," he said. "This (Nevada) is the only place where you can bet sports legally. Why would I want to do anything else? I’m 50 and having the time of my life."

And waitresses want to work the bar when Max is there because he brings in good business, which means better tips.

"I find that vodka is the drink of choice with the younger crowd," he said. "You get your rum and gin drinkers, but vodka by far is what most will order."

And if his customers decide to stick around the bar, they will also get a shot of sports betting advice free of charge.

"I bet five days a week," Max said. "I would never retire and live off sports betting, but I do enjoy it and I do all right. I study Covers.com and GamingToday. Their information is great."

Max normally works 40 hours a week, though sometimes it could go as high as 60 if he is called in for extra shifts.

"The MGM has been very good to me," he said. "I plan on being here another 20 years or until I win powerball or the lottery."

Better figure on the 20. Salut!