"We already have oysters. And everyone is familiar with drink pairings," says lead bartender Cutter Levoie. "Put them both together and you have the latest menu upgrade for the bar at PB Catch."
Across Palm Beach, PB Catch is known for having one of the freshest happy hours around: two-for-one drinks and oysters exclusively at the bar, served from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily. With the only true raw bar on the island, the restaurant also offers one of the best collections of oysters in the region that — when paired with a cocktail or two — makes for one fantastic way to wash down a long day.
Levoie certainly agrees; for the past two years, he's been tending bar at PB Catch while helping to create some of the bar's signature drinks. Here, favorites include drinks like the Hibiskus (Absolut hibiscus vodka with fermented grapefruit and soda and garnished with a crystalized hibiscus flower) or his very own Cutter's sangria (Stoli Citroen, Pama Liqueur, St. Germain, and prosecco).
Since it opened in 2010, the Palm Beach restaurant has also been at the cutting edge of culinary trends, especially thanks to its unique "seacuterie" program, a menu offering a rotating special of cured shellfish and seafood featuring items like octopus torchon, scallop mortadella, and salmon pastrami.
Not to be undone, the bar program is looking to get equally creative with the addition of new oyster pairing flights, a selection of East and West Coast oysters paired with various wines and cocktails to accentuate each varietal's unique flavor profile.
Name: Cutter Lavoie, lead bartender at PB Catch
Hometown: Marblehead, Massachusetts
Education: BA from Salem State College
New Times: What inspired you to begin bartending?
Lavoie: I have been working in the restaurant industry since I was a teenager. I got my first bartending job at 21 and loved it. I stayed with it professionally because I enjoy the hours and the fast-paced nature of the job. Previously, I've worked at places like City Cellar in CityPlace, West Palm Beach; Big City Tavern on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale; and the Westender Restaurant in Nantucket.
What’s the first important drink or cocktail menu you remember making?
The most important drink I remember making wasn't actually a drink. It was a list — that would be the first cocktail menu I helped write at Big City Tavern in Fort Lauderdale. That was in 2003.
What’s your favorite restaurant or bar in South Florida (besides yours, of course)?
I really like Buccan in Palm Beach for the eclectic tapas menu they offer.
What’s your favorite drink on your menu right now?
My favorite drink on our menu right now is our signature Rum Runner daiquiri. It's refreshing, tasty, and the perfect way to start the night. It's a combination of 12-year Real Mccoy rum, fresh puréed banana and blackberry, fresh-squeezed orange juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of grenadine.
What’s in store for your next big menu change?
The next thing we are focusing on is developing an oyster flight with drink parings.
What are some of your favorite area establishments?
My favorite after-hours spot for food is the Blue Boar in West Palm Beach. They have great bar food. For cocktails, I love Sweetwater. There's always something innovative and new going on there. But the best drink I've had recently is the "Texas Tea" from City Cellar, made with tequila and hibiscus tea. It's tasty and refreshing.
What's the weirdest request you've ever gotten from a customer?
A customer asked me for a vodka, soda, and cranberry — and he asked for the cranberry on the bottom, because he thought it tasted better.
What do you drink or make for yourself?
Generally, I like to drink beer or wine. There is nothing better after a long shift than a cold beer.
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What do you feel is lacking from the South Florida food and drink scene?
I don't think anything is lacking here in South Florida. I think there is something for everyone. The only change I would like to see is more training for staff to better understand what they're making and selling.
If you could open your own establishment, what would you name it, and what would the concept be?
If I could open my own place, it would consist of my favorite items such as meatballs, chicken Parmesan, steaks, seafood. It would be called Chopper's Best.
PB Catch is located at 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach. Call 561-655-5558, or visit pbcatch.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.