Meet Bob Peters (Twitter: @Bobthebartender), a local mixologist who has been tending bars — from classic neighborhood dives to swanky Uptown spots — for more than 15 years. Peters can currently be found in two Charlotte locations: When he's not concocting exotic, Asian-inspired cocktails at Pisces Sushi, he's making funky cocktail fusions over at Soul Gastrolounge. His brunchtime demand at Pisces is "Tito's Bloody Mary," with pickled lotus root. At happy hour, he frequently dabbles with in-house infused vodkas, whipping up his own homemade foam to complement. But while stationed behind the bar, he's never too busy to chat about his passion. "It makes my job really easy, because I never feel like I'm selling anything," he says. "I always feel like I'm just sharing." His favorite cocktail is Sazerac, an old-fashioned cognac drink, but if you spot him at a neighborhood joint, he'll more than likely be just fine with a nice shot of tequila.
Where do you get the inspiration for your craft cocktails?
I try to take inspiration from everywhere, wherever possible. I love listening to The Splendid Table on NPR and really listening to chefs. Anytime I can listen to a chef speak, or read a chef's words, I like to take them as something I can translate into liquid. I'm inspired by anything Asian, especially working at Pisces, I find it beautiful. It's such an ancient and rich culture, especially Asian cooking. You've got Japan, China, Korea, Thailand; there's so many ways you can go with it. There's such a large pool to draw from for inspiration.
What's your process as a mixologist?
I'll get an idea and try to sit down and think the drink through conceptually from top to bottom, with different ways to execute the drink. Then I'll do product research on which products I can use and I'll come into Pisces and tinker with the recipe a little bit. Sometimes it takes a long time in between an idea and the drink actually being on a bar, and sometimes they just sort of fall out of you. It can take 10 minutes for something brilliant to happen, and other times it takes two weeks. Part of it's not giving up on your idea. When it's not working, you just have to try different ways of skinning the cat and getting to where you want to be with your flavors.
What is your favorite drink to make?
That's kind of like asking a mom or dad that has a big family which kid is their favorite. I love them all separately in their own different ways. But maybe one of my favorites right now is the fresh, muddled blueberry soju sake martini with the ginger lemongrass foam I make at Pisces. Another one I love now is Pisces' own apple pie-infused bourbon. It's super simple and there's not a lot to making it, but it's just a lot of fun.