Nick Nistico began his career working in the beach-side casinos of Atlantic City. Upon moving to south Florida, he quickly rose to the top of the national and global craft bartending movement. He is known for creating Breakthru Beverage Florida’s Hospitality and Spirit Educator role supporting on-premise accounts through beverage development consultations and bar staff training programs.
Nistico has trained thousands of bartenders and closely consulted for some of the largest accounts in Florida including: Walt Disney, Universal Studios, The Miami Dolphins, The Clevelander, Joe’s Stone Crab and many more. Throughout his career, Nistico has developed some of the most unique and successful bar programs in the industry including: American Cut, New York City and Atlantic City (Michelin Star chef Marc Forgione); Volver, Philadelphia (Michelin Star chef Jose Garces); Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel, Times Square, New York City; Soho Beach House, Miami; Dolce Italian, Regent Cocktail Club, Miami. You will find Nick collaborating with Executive Chef Brad Kilgore, Kilgore Culinary (Alter and Ember in Wynwood).
I caught up with Nick at the exciting Bar Brawls competition at Death or Glory Bar. A seasoned veteran, he mastered and won Week 2 with his knowledge, preparedness and attention to detail (hand cutting a block of ice with his very sharp knife, and unique cocktail presentation).
Guide me to the strategy behind creating your Scofflaw and Corpse Reviver #1 cocktails:
Knowing the recipe is half the battle with both of these cocktails. Like most classics they are spirit forward, aggressive ingredients leave little room for error when seeking balance.
Taste taste taste! Every grenadine and French brandy has its own characteristics and citrus changes by the hour. My goal as always was to create well balanced drinks served properly, with a smile.
Cool, calm collective… that’s one of your strengths. What was the the cocktail you enjoyed making for the judges?
I really enjoyed making all the large format cocktails. They are fun! They make me smile and seeing them passed around in the crowd was all the better as I often feel disappointed most of our guests don’t have an opportunity to taste the cocktails we are judged on. All of my cocktails were created on the fly using the items I was surrounded with.
The Bartender Interview
Known for: Being passionate! Culinary driven cocktails, creating unique balanced flavor, being fiercely competitive. The Plank Smoked Old Fashion. Not being afraid to speak my mind. Perpetration. Converse Sneakers, Flat brim hats.
Your go-to drink is: Dry Sherry and Champagne. Brandy, and of course Champagne.
Must have garnish: Proper Citrus Twist, a clear difference I see between seasoned bartenders and those less exposed to proper training. A filthy black cherry. It’s I my opinion the best packaged garnish in the industry.
Essential bar accessory: A very sharp knife. I always say give me fresh ingredients and a sharp knife and I’ll make it happen.
Best local bar: El Camino Delray. The hospitality, Agave selection and spicy Mexican food satisfies my needs every time.
You are loving: Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Sous Vide. Lol, sounds like I’m talking about food!
This time next year you’ll be drinking: Whatever I want! Drink what you like! I don’t care if it’s warm beer or cold vodka. Be open, try new things and enjoy what makes you happy. Cheers! a glass of Bollinger to that!
“We’re in an era where people want to know where things are coming from, and it’s great when they can make a connection while sitting at a bar.”
- Two-time WSWA Best in Show national winner
- 2014 World Tiki Championship at Miami Rum Renaissance
- BAR 5-Day Certification, an achievement only a fraction of the world’s most talented bartenders have completed
- Founding member of both the Miami and West Palm Beach United States Bartenders’ Guild
Interviewer: Renée Korbel Quinn, Spirited South Florida
Photography by: Studio B2, Inc / Emiliano Brooks