Bartender profile: Nigal Vann of Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro

By Columbus Alive
From the September 13, 2012 edition

Tell me about Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro.

We’re a new restaurant, open a little less than three months. I helped open the place. Cris Dehlavi [of M at Miranova] was the consult here and she created the initial run of the drinks.

We definitely get a lot of community support. A lot of people in see a neighbor or a coworker and end up hanging out longer.

And you also work with Cris in the United States Bartenders Guild, right?

Yes, I’m the secretary of the southern Ohio chapter of USBG. Not all of us are bartenders. Some of us are enthusiasts or bar reps. We get together and share information, do a lot of competitions and go on field trips. We’re going on a bourbon tour in Kentucky. Bourbon is new to me. I started in a tiki bar, so I did a lot of vodka, rum and gin drinks. When it comes to the dark spirits I’m a little bit iffy, but I’m warming up to it.

What does it take to be a good bartender?

With my personality, I always joke that my teeth are too big for my mouth because I can’t stop smiling. You’ve got something to learn from everybody and I just keep open to that idea. It’s just building relationships. Not just between me and my customers, but my customers together.

What’s your go-to drink?

My all-time favorite drink is a mojito. I like to be creative so I don’t do the plain mint, lime mojito. I like to add fruits or use a spirit like gin. I’ve added raspberries and even almonds.

How do you come up with new drink ideas?

I have tons of bottles of liquor at home and have a lot of friends who enjoy that. I invite them over and make about six or seven drinks and have them vote on which ones they like.

Tell me about the bartender catering company you recently started.

It’s called B & W Bartending. It all started because I went to a wedding and my friend needed someone behind the bar. I went from a guest to a bartender and it went by really smoothly and people asked me if I was available for this and that. It triggered an idea.