Meet Your Mixologist: John Verrochi of Terrazza at Shore Club
"As a mixologist in Miami, we can influence the taste of people all over the world.”
One of South Beach’s most popular boutique hotels on Collins Avenue, Shore Club, attracts the masses with its chic layout and upscale crowd. Terrazza is the hotel’s Italian restaurant gem, but there’s more to the eatery than its crusty brick oven pizzas and creamy risottos. John Verrochi is Terrazza’s main mixologist, and even though he’s only lived in Miami for two years, this Boston native is serious about shaking things up.
Verrochi got his start as a bartender at a pretty unique venue. “I originally got involved in bartending while running an underground nightclub out of my house in college,” he shares. Verrochi later went on to open his own spot in Boston back in 2005, and attributes his passion for working the bar to his upbringing. “I was always pretty creative, and my family was always into cooking, baking and making wine and limoncello,” he recalls.
Before manning the bar at Terrazza, Verrochi polished his skills at another popular SoBe cocktail spot, Sunset Lounge at Mondrian, where he worked with a plethora of fresh fruits from all over the Americas. Now, at Terrazza, Verrochi most appreciates the fresh produce from Italy, which arrives daily. The rarest ingredient he’s worked with is miracle fruit, a West African berry that transforms sour or bitter flavors to sweet, when it comes in contact with acids. Occasionally, Verrochi will experiment with creating fruit caviars to dress his drinks, but he prefers consistency and local when it comes to ingredients, which sits well with his regulars. “I like to keep to what I have readily available in my walk-in, or at a locals farmers market,” he says.
At Terrazza, Verrochi prepares classic Italian cocktails with Miami flavors, adding his own personal touch as he goes along. It’s also the first time Verrochi has designed a beverage program. “We’re trying to keep the cocktails in concert with the art of Italian dining,” Verrochi says. “So, I’m using a lot of botanicals, aperitifs and some dry fruits and vegetables.” His mission is to create a roster of libations that act as palate cleansers between courses, accompaniments to meals and as refreshing sippers that complement the setting.
Along with the ever-popular mojito, Verrochi’s most prevalent creation is ginger tea, which features house-infused vanilla vodka, house ginger tonic, agave nectar and lemon juice. To Verrochi, it’s the prefect mix of flavors to refresh on a steamy summer night. He’s also shaking up the wonderfully unique Doge’s Palace, a blend of artichoke-infused gin, rosemary-infused Strega liqueur, egg whites, fresh lemon juice and Demerara sugar.
Naturally, Verrochi’s mixology is inspired by the diverse population surrounding him, and he credits the success of his craft to the different cultures, which have exposed him to “amazing ideas, ingredients, techniques and energies.” But, after making a name for himself in Boston and working countless late nights in New York City, why did he end up in Miami? “As a mixologist in Miami, we can influence the taste of people all over the world,” Verrochi says. “We are a tourism-based community in South Beach, and people are here on vacation, and by definition, looking for an experience they can’t get back home. We have the unique opportunity to give them something to take home with them. And, that’s special.”