SOMERVILLE, NJ – Steve Fette, respected mixologist and bar man at Verve Bistro, Bar, & Lounge, has won the coveted Iron Shaker Award as the best bartender in New Jersey.
Working behind the classic turn-of-the-century bar where the first drink was served in Somerville following Prohibition, Fette joins N. Bryan Mack, who has gained both national and statewide recognition demonstrating his talent at the Star of the Bar Mixology Competition International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event 2014, as a finalist in the NJ.com "Best Bars Competition" in 2015, and at the 2015 Iron Shaker competition.
Fette won the 2016 Iron Shaker finals at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City. Iron Shaker is the statewide cocktail competition that annually recognizes New Jersey’s best bartender. Leading up to the finals were regional competitions held in New Brunswick, Hoboken, and Morristown.
Fette outlasted seven other competitors over five rounds of cocktails judged by a panel of three experts while also being sampled by attendees. His cocktails included “Never Doubt an Eagle Scout,” with wild Maine blueberries, bourbon, amaro, lemon and Angostura bitters for the introductory punch round; “Cinderella Story,” a twist on the Arnold Palmer that he served out of a golf bag in homage to Caddyshack for the movie round; “Sagistic Bastard,” for which he toasted sage and mixed Laird’s Applejack, Xicaru Mezcal, fresh lime and cranberries for the cranberry round; “Perfect Game,” the baseball-themed beverage that required judges and drinkers to eat a Cracker Jack before sipping; and “La Femme Fatale,” a mixture of Bluecoat Gin, St. Germain, sherry, clarified grapefruit juice, maraschino and Butterfly pea extract designed to evoke the beauty of Miss America.
Fette credits the work environment at Verve for his success in the competition, noting that the bar men and women are given the freedom to create.
“Everyone at Verve considers the creation of both food and cocktails an art,” he explained. “We enjoy the freedom to express ourselves and use our knowledge, talent, and experience to create memorable visits.”
At only 28, Fette brings two decades of experience with him to the job, including stints at the elegant Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster and Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, where he oversaw seven bars. He began his “career” supporting the efforts of his grandfather who regularly entertained guests to a point where he needed the help of his seven-year-old grandson.
Verve is recognized as the home of the perfect cocktail. “We pride ourselves in making the perfect cocktail,” said owner Rick St. Pierre. “The awards earned by our bar men and women are proof that we are focused on making the perfect Martini, the perfect Manhattan, and an ever changing menu of perfect specialty drinks.”