There’s Nothing Like A Drink From A Well-Dressed Pugtender

Rocco started “pugtending” for his cocktail-making human, Lili Novosel, in hopes of getting a treat (yes, he got one).

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Rocco is the cutest bartender we've seen in a while. Via Rocco the Pug/Instagram
Cari Jorgensen

When you go to a bar and order your favorite cocktail, how good or bad it is depends on how it’s made. Maybe the bartender put in too much lime or not enough rum. Maybe it has just the right balance of every ingredient. It all depends on the bartender. The better the bartender, the more likely you’re going to return to that bar. Especially if the one making your drinks is cute. And if that bartender is a Pug named Rocco with his own Instagram page, well, then chances are you’ll be returning every day.

Rocco the Pugtender started pugtending “fairly organically,” his human and cocktail maker, Lili Novosel, told

“I’ve always given him a treat after snapping his picture and being that he is a smart pup he knows that if the camera is ever out there is an opportunity for a treat,” she said. “I was so proud of the first few cocktails I made that I would snap a picture to send to my husband. When Rocco would see me taking the pictures he would rush to get in front of the camera and make it into the frame. He made it into every picture and it wasn’t until my husband joked about the ‘pugtender’ next to the drink who I was trying to take credit from that I had the idea to marry the two and have him play the role of bartender. It was his insatiable appetite for treats and my fascination with cocktails that drove it.”

Before 12-year-old Rocco was the Pugtender, he was a foster pup whose “original family was going through a divorce and couldn’t keep him,” Novosel told Newly married, she and her husband decided to adopt Rocco. That was eight years ago. Rocco possesses the personality of many great bartenders, being “very sweet, easygoing and smart,” Novosel said. “Wherever we take him people tend to gravitate toward him. Like most Pugs he has a never-ending appetite. He has an excellent memory and is very sneaky. If I happen to leave my lunch out within his reach he won’t immediately go for it; he’ll wait until I leave the room to ensure he gets to eat the entire thing versus getting caught halfway though if I were in the room.”

With such a strong appetite, this Austin, Texas-based Pugtender might be tempted to taste the cocktails he poses with.

“Photographing him as the Pugtender is an easy process. Most dogs can’t sit still or know to make eye contact with the camera but miraculously Rocco knows to look directly at the camera,” Novosel said. “It takes anywhere from three to five minutes to get his picture taken and that includes getting him dressed and in position for the picture. Once the cocktail is made I’ll put his shirt and bowtie on and by then he knows it’s picture time and will jump on the bench and get ready to pose. Aside from having natural light, the most important part of the photo shoot is having a treat to reward Rocco with once we’re done. He for the most part has zero interest in the cocktails but when he does start sniffing and looking like he’s going for a cocktail I just call his name and show him the treat. That immediately takes his focus off the cocktail. However, treats can’t compete with fruity garnishes and because of this I don’t garnish the cocktails with anything other than herbs and an occasional orange or lemon wheel.”

There are times, though, when Rocco can’t resist… especially when the drink is dog friendly.

The #Pugtender turns into a raging dogaholic if there’s any @yodogsnackery Spaniel Adams dog beer around ????????

A video posted by Rocco the Pug & Weldon (@roccothepug) on

“He is a very special dog and I feel incredibly lucky to have him in my life,” Novosel told us. “I’m a visual thinker and have always been creative but struggled to find an outlet for that creativity. Rocco has helped me channel that creativity into something that brings joy to others.”

A Pug and a delicious cocktail – who wouldn’t find joy in that? After all, there’s nothing like a cocktail from a well-dressed Pugtender.

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