Mixologist: Zak Renzetti-Voit of Black Olive

  • Jodi Miller photo
  • Jodi Miller photo
From the 12/30/2009 edition
Neighborhood: Easton

Hometown: Sunbury

Years behind the bar: 5

What do you like about bartending?

I like that you get to relate to people. I've made some of my closest friends through bartending, and I've been in a couple weddings because of people I've met.

I think in jobs today, people get stuck behind a desk and don't get to relate to people too much. It's a nice break from my day job.

What's your day job?

I'm a graphic designer. My first degree was in marketing and I realized graphic design was what I really wanted to do. So I quit my marketing job and went back to design school. Now I'm a graphic designer by day and I love it. It doesn't feel like work. It feels like I'm coloring and playing with cool stuff all day.

What's the crowd like at Black Olive?

It's a really mixed crowd - if you look around, there's a bit of everything. You'll see a who's who of Columbus. The mayor comes in all the time, and you'll get people in jeans and hoodies. We try to make a place where anybody can come.

What do you drink?

I'm a gin man, Hendrick's gin is my preference. I'll have a whiskey once in a while, or a beer. But I'll drink gin until the day I die.

You make an award-winning drink with gin. Tell me about it.

I got asked to be in a contest through GQ and Bombay Sapphire to find the Most Inspired Bartender of Columbus. I could only use ingredients from Ohio.

I started doing research and thinking about local ingredients. I knew the carnation (Ohio's state flower) was edible. After tasting numerous carnation petals, I realized the clove flavor in carnations would bring out the flavor in Bombay.

I remembered hearing about the pawpaw fruit as a kid. In Athens, they have an annual pawpaw festival and they actually sell it in the North Market.

I made a simple syrup out of ginger and carnation petals, and marinated the petals in the syrup, froze them and that's the garnish. I grew my own ginger, because it's not from here and I wanted to stick to ingredients from Ohio.

How'd it turn out?

I won my region. I and 40 other bartenders were flown to Las Vegas for the Nation's Most Inspired Bartender competition. I didn't win, but it was an unbelievable experience.