It was about four years ago when Peter Szigeti was tending bar on a normal Monday night in Budapest, Hungary, that Boston industry vet Demitri Tsolakis (see: Cafeteria, Bijou) tried getting in for a drink while on vacation there. Szigeti’s bar was closed for private events for several nights in a row, but on the last night Szigeti found a way to slip Tsolakis and his vacationing compadres in. The rest, as they say, is history.
“They saw what we do behind the bar [and] really liked it,” says Szigeti. “And at the end of the conversation he gave me his card and said, ‘If you ever want to come to the States, let me know.’ I was curious. I wanted a change [and] to move on [so] I came here.”
Fast forward through four years of constantly throwing ideas around with Tsolakis for what their ideal cocktail program would like if it focused on European craft cocktails to last February when Szigeti was graduating from New England Institute of Art for photography, and the final result is the current program Szigeti has launched at Committee at Fan Pier.
A survey of the range of flavor profiles shows inventive mixology jujitsu on full display. The house-bottled and house-carbonated Not-A-Cosmo is already a hit, created in the back of the house from batch cocktail kegs using organic grape and fresh ginger flavored vodka with orange liquor, fresh lime, and cranberry juice to pair with the Mediterranean flavors of the house. And the Pins & Needles with Avua Cachaca, Lillet Rose, and fresh lime with Angostura bitters (pictured) is a blast of Brazil by way of France.
The entire list bears the influence of Szigeti, whose background is Lebanese, and who has led cocktail seminars in Europe after being mentored by the excellently named Zoltan Nagy, owner of the world-renowned Boutiq’Bar in Budapest, which is a regular fixture on “world’s best bars” listicles everywhere (Szigeti notes that any bar in Hungary making such a list is a big deal back home). Since homage is due where homage is due, he points to the tequila, celery bitters, tonic, and pineapple juice Bitter Mendez as his American nod to his mentor’s forthcoming crazy tequila bar venture in Vienna opening under the same name.
“This is our way to salute him for everything he gave us.”
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