Anthony Vitacca

Montrio Bistro 414 Calle Principal, Monterey (831) 648-8880, montrio.com

Beer might have been good enough for Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, but Montrio isn’t just any neighborhood joint. And no one better sets the upscale casual vibe than Anthony Vitacca. For one cocktail, he may hover over a smoker for days just to gather enough water to make smoked ice. For another, he may go through the alchemy necessary to produce chartreuse dust. The effort is not for vanity’s sake. Vitacca’s cocktails are evocative, capable of sending your mind to a distant place or another time. Once there were bartenders like Sam at Cheers. Then came mixologists. Vitacca prefers “spiritsmith,” as a smith creates with beauty and craftsmanship in mind. “Now the pressure is on to push the cocktail envelope even further,” he says. “Game on.”

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