Food & Drink

Pietro Collina on Vodka Water, René Redzepi, and the Spirit That Defined 2016

pietro collina nomad bar bartender
James Pomerantz

Prior to getting into the bar game, Rome-born Pietro Collina was a cook in London, having spent most of his youth in the restaurant industry. In 2009, after graduating CIA, Collina became a server at the holy grail of NYC restaurants: Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, where he fell in love with wines and spirits and eventually made his way behind the bar. A few years later, Collina started splitting shifts between EMP and the stylish, bi-level NoMad Bar, where’d he’d eventually become head bartender in 2014. He now serves as bar manager of The NoMad Bar, which has won countless awards under his reign (including Best American Hotel Bar 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail) and is known for its crazy large-format drinks that come in crystal decanters, appropriately called Cocktail Explosions.

What spirit defined 2016 for you?
Dolin Blanc Vermouth. I love using it to soften spirit-forward cocktails due to its floral sweetness and low alcohol content.

What’s the craziest thing that happened in your bar this year?
The 50 Best Awards were held in NYC this year and the NoMad Hotel hosted 30 of the top chefs in the world. The NoMad Bar turned into a hangout for people like Massimo Bottura, René Redzepi, and Brett Graham. Having such world-renowned tastemakers in one room sharing war stories really put electricity in the air.

What drink are you ready to retire in 2017?
Vodka water -- I just don't get it.

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Lucy Meilus is Thrillist's New York Editor and would be a terrible bartender. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram