Miami's bar scene is blowing up social media with outpourings of love for Richie Petronzi.
The bar professional died yesterday at the age of 42. According to Broken Shaker's Gabriel Orta, Petronzi became ill at home and was transported to a local hospital. A family member said the cause of death is inconclusive.
Petronzi was behind the stick at some of Miami's best bars, including Regent Cocktail Club, 27, Broken Shaker, and Florida Room. He was a beverage consultant at Bitter Sweet Libations and was recently promoted to bar manager at Broken Shaker.
Orta remembers Petronzi as a "walking encyclopedia of cocktails and spirits." The Broken Shaker cofounder first met the bar maven about 12 years ago at Florida Room and was immediately drawn to his knowledge and personality. "He was such a good bartender and a great person," Orta says. "He was always busting balls, but in a really funny way. People would come to the bar to see him. All night long, you'd hear, 'Hey, Richie!'"
Orta likens Petronzi to another legendary Miami bartender. "Richie was in the same stratosphere as John Lermayer. He knew everything about spirits. He was making carbonated cocktails before it was a thing." John Lermayer died suddenly this past June, leaving the Miami hospitality community shocked and saddened.
Miami's beverage professionals once again have taken to Facebook to share their stories and voice their grief over the untimely passing of one of their own.
Brand ambassador and Drink Miami partner Gabriel Urrutia posted, "Another awesome human gone too soon. One of my favorite bartenders with a big heart & welcoming smile. I had an opportunity to spend some time with him a couple weeks back & talk shop. He was always so easy going & such a badass bartender. Love you
Sweet Liberty's Nick Nistico wrote, "He carried three times the heart of most people I’ve ever met. Richie Was Miami. Richie Was New Jersey. Richie was a Bartender. Richie was my Homie, my friend and my mentor in so many ways."
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Brand ambassador Robert J. Ferrara shared, "I’m at a loss for words. Thank you for being you! You will be missed Richie V Petronzi."
Orta says he's setting up a shrine filled with pictures and memories at the Broken Shaker for friends who want to pay their respects to Petronzi. In addition, he's planning a memorial evening at the bar. So far there's no set date, but details will be shared as they're finalized.
In the meantime, Broken Shaker is offering a drink in the bar manager's honor. The Hey Richie! is made with Campari, sweet vermouth, olive juice, and soda.
Broken Shaker. 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-2727; freehandhotels.com.