Mixologist Richard Boccato of PKNY - Biography
New York, NY
Richard Boccato started his career standing outside of a bar. Literally. Boccato was the doorman behind Sasha Petraske’s unassuming Little Branch entrance in 2005 before he eventually crossed the threshold to become a bartender. But it was worth the wait, even standing. Because once behind the bar, Boccato showed an exceptional talent for the kind of rigorously natural, hand-crafted cocktails championed in the Petraske empire. In fact, Petraske was so impressed that he brought Boccato to the team at Milk & Honey, where the cocktail purist’s ante is upped by stricter social regulations and a higher grade of exclusivity.
Boccato (whose favorite tool is a sturdy bar spoon) excelled at the mixture of meticulousness and creativity required by the trade, even building the requisite encyclopedic knowledge expected of any self-respecting cocktailian. In 2009 he and Petraske staked their cocktail claim in the comparatively uncharted terrain of Long Island City with Dutch Kills. The 1890s style saloon and cocktail bar—with tall wooden booths built by Boccato himself—became a magnet for New York’s dedicated imbibers, drawing even the most adamantly Manhattan-bound among them across the East River.
And just this year, Boccato teamed up with Giuseppe Gonzalez to open Painkiller, a tiki bar with serious pretensions to historical accuracy. Among the swizzles, daiquiris, and custom drinks shaken and stirred, Boccato and company are mixing up a roster of historically accurate Zombies, a potent ode to the culture of tiki, and an intoxicating addition to the culture of cocktail in the city.