It wouldn’t surprise me if I randomly flip open a woman magazine or take a dip into any online girl talk chatterbox, I’d stumble across a handful of “lighthouse” posts. These how-to articles seek to guide the many poor, lost single souls across the rough sea of love, share recipes on how to brew lasting relationships and, alas, in Asia particularly we like to talk about how to become a goddess. Yes, reboot your system and install OS Goddess for the 2014 perfect girl updates. 200 years ago women fit in by fitting themselves into corsets. Nowadays, they fit themselves into the ever-changing social formula of success that painstakingly adds together a virtual corset, unexpired beauty, brains and benevolence et cetera. Humpf.
And then I met the Wine Goddess. She’s no obscure Greek citizen from Homer’s Odyssey, rather she’s the proud guardian of Bin 702, a quaint, Midwestern-looking boutique wine and beer bar located in Container Park, a hip area in Downtown Las Vegas where young people, art and local designers congregate. Recently, Bin 702 joined an army of the restaurant industry’s elites and became one of 2014 Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence recipients. In just one-and-a-half year time, Kathleen Lilly aka Wine Goddess turns this off-Strip chic wine concept into an address for creative food and beverage pairings and guaranteed fun. Over sips of beers and ciders (not wines, surprisingly?), we set sail into Kathleen’s past, retracing her vinous voyage over the past years.
Kathleen Lilly is no Lighthouse post kind of Goddess. Becoming a goddess is not an achievement, instead it is a form of commitment, inspired by another passion of hers: belly dancing. In the belly dancing community, a goddess refers to a woman who lives to empower and enable herself and others. Feminism is at the core of the Goddess’ living philosophy; it motivates one to be fun, carefree, feminine, beautiful and exotic. This by no means is a recipe, the essence of becoming a Goddess is the ability to shape your own form, find your own zen and define your own being. This tribal definition of Goddess is little known outside the circle, and Kathleen has met curious faces, just as much as rolling eyes, when she exchanges business cards with others. Well, how many Wine Goddesses have you ever met?
“Wine saves my life,” Kathleen confessed. She credited wine as one of the things that helped her rediscover the purpose of life. Kathleen dabbled into the food and beverage industry when she joined the management programme at Bellagio Las Vegas. Upon graduation, she met Bellagio’s wine director, Rob Bigelow, who ushered her down the road of studying about wines. By year 2009, Kathleen has done her introductory wine training with Court of Master Sommeliers, and was offered a sommelier job at Bellagio. “During that time I was going through my not-feeling-like-a-goddess period,” Kathleen turned down the offer, thinking that she was not good enough to fulfill the expectations of the role. Same year, she moved on to Aria Las Vegas where she continued to focus on restaurant management.
When Bin 702 opened up in December 2013, Kathleen took the helm and gradually built an award-winning wine list with over 100 selections, featuring a wide array of quality producers and putting lesser-known varieties like Gruner Veltliner, Arneis and others on the tap! Whether you belong to the 60% loyal regulars or 40% curious first-timers that visit the Bin everyday, Kathleen will be there whisking you through an odyssey of 13 to 14 different wines, all conveniently on the tap so to make wine tasting a fun adventure that doesn’t hurt your wallet (too much).
I find myself secretly wanting to become a Wine Goddess myself, so I ask Kathleen what it takes to be a Wine Goddess. “You need patience, and commitment to your work. Even if you are having a crappy day, regardless you have to detach yourself from how you feel and try to give your guest the best dining experience. Oh, and you have to appreciate yourself.” No Greek-inspired chiffon breezy dress? For the record, on the day of the interview Kathleen was wearing a black sleek dress with a funky neckpiece, reminding me of an avant-garde version of the Valkyries from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
“Every person is his or her own study case,” Kathleen pointed out. After all, the Wine Goddess denied me a conclusive answer on what makes a Wine Goddess. To Kathleen, Goddess is her optimal modus operandi of being a wine ambassador. Having faith in herself, embracing lifelong learning and respecting all those she comes across is Kathleen’s Holy Trinity. This is how a sassy, outspoken New Jersey girl evolves into a Goddess. We need more Goddesses like that, Amen.
Picture 1：Kathleen Lilly brings the concept of “Goddess” from belly dancing culture to the world of wines Picture 2：Bin 702, a hip wine and beer bar located in Container Park, Downtown Las Vegas