The city's cocktail scene is about to take a hit, as one of its most important drink makers, Peter Vestinos, prepares to decamp for San Francisco.
Vestinos was a sommelier at the Tasting Room (and, cheers, a vociferous advocate for the smoking ban) before he broke big behind the stick at Sepia in 2007, concurrently racking up innumerable cocktail-competition victories.
Last year he left the restaurant, taking the position of beverage development director for the Wirtz Beverage Group. If that sounds kind of square, consider that he was out and about more than ever before, creating cocktail programs for plenty of restaurants (Naha, NoMi, the Roof at the Wit), and hosting promotional events for the industry, including the excellent monthly Third Coast Cocktail Club at Bar DeVille, which showcased many of the more unusual and interesting spirits in the company's profile.
The reason for the move? Pure wanderlust. "I could stay here in Chicago and be very, very happy," he says. "I love everyone here and everyone I work with, but personally I'm looking for a little change. I've been here for ten years. There might be a time soon when I have to move back to Boston. So I want to see more of the country before that happens."
Vestinos is sticking around a little bit longer, helping Wirtz retool and refill the job, while he evaluates a few SF job opportunities (none of which he's ready to talk about). In the meantime, you can raise a glass to him tonight at the Exchange (yet another notch in his belt, drinks-menu-wise), where he'll be guest bartending beginning at 9 PM.