Bob Peters, The Punch Room at the Ritz Carlton (Charlotte, NC)
It’s a bit disconcerting when you step off the elevator for your first visit to The Punch Room at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, NC. First, it’s not on the rooftop or penthouse floor, something I was expecting, but on a random floor. Secondly, other than a small host stand outside what appears to be a usual hotel suite, there is no indication you’re walking into a public establishment at all. But open the door, and there’s no doubt you’re somewhere special, that exclusive VIP experience that really delivers beyond the velvet rope. This room full of luxurious details is the everyday office of Bob Peters, who at once is bartender, host, front of house manager, and magician. Peters won the best bartender award for global Ritz Carlton a few years ago, but sit in this room for any length of time, and you don’t need to know that award to witness -- and taste -- the magic. He uses dry ice, he sets aflame, he infuses, carbonates, dehydrates and coaxes chemical reactions, all with delicious results. It’s up close magic, and an empty glass set in front of you signals your show is about to begin. Let’s see if he can let us know any tricks behind the treats.