Back in December, legendary Charlotte mixologist Bob Peters put out a call for applications to be his apprentice.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Bob’s the guy running the show at The Punch Room on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown.
She’s been found. Meet Leah Pippin, Charlotte’s next great mixologist.
She’s most recently been working in sports bars in Cornelius. Huge change of pace.
Now it’s all about quality instead of quantity. “It’s nice to be proud of what you’re doing,” she said. “It’s hard to be proud of opening a Bud Light.”
Also a change in atmosphere. Leah had purple hair but dyed it a bit more traditional color for the Ritz. She still rocks the tats and black nail polish though.
Why’d she get picked?
Bob said he was drawn to a few things. 1) She’s from the area (went to high school around Lake Norman and just closed on a house in east Charlotte). 2) She doesn’t have fully formed philosophies on craft cocktails. She’s coachable. 3) She has an incredible energy and hunger to learn.
Apprenticeship means training. Leah relearned how to stir drinks and perfected the art of zesting oranges.
She now handles most of the punches and is starting to make more cocktails. The goal is for one day soon, there be no difference between a Bob cocktail and a Leah cocktail.
If Bob has to be out of town, “I want to make sure The Punch Room is left in super capable hands with somebody that’s equally passionate about the program as I am,” he said.
Leah is 25 and craft cocktails now feel like her calling.
She says she wants to stick with it and can see her being the head mixologist of her own place one day. I’d buy a drink there.
Cover image by Jason Thomas