Magical bar tender Nico Muto is the latest attraction at Kismet on Hardy St. Photo: Charles Anderson.

The magic barman


A Peruvian marketing graduate walks into a Nelson bar and asks for a job.

The owner asks what he can do. The Peruvian says: “I can do magic.”

He is hired.

“That was like a magic trick,” says Nico Muto, who arrived in town from Lima about two months ago.

The bar owner was Nick Widley of the new Hardy St establishment, Kismet. When Nico arrived, the sister bar to the Cod & Lobster was just on the verge of being finished.

Nico had just completed his marketing degree from the University of Lima and was looking for a break. He also happens to be a professional magician.

Nick happened to be a sometime juggler.

“Maybe we had a connection,” Nico says.

“I chose New Zealand because it sounded so far away. I’m feeling so happy to be here right now. New Zealanders love magic and I love to share magic.”

Which is just as well as if you order a drink from Kismet these days, you may get more than just a refreshment. Nico has been entertaining guests with closeup sleight of hand magic that bamboozles them, even when they are stone-cold sober.

“People just go crazy. There are not many magicians around here, I think.”

Nico says those reactions are what drew him to the craft in the first place.

“The first time I saw magic the thing that attracted me was the faces of the people. Faces of mystery, wonder and surprise and curiosity.”

He says the secret to a good trick is simplicity.

“If you can create a history around it you can really appreciate it.”

Nico is in Nelson until March when he hopes to buy a car and travel the length of the country.

“I’m planning to share magic with as many people as I can.”

Nico’s appearance coincides with Nelson’s first ever cocktail competition that is being hosted by Kismet and Dancing Sands Distillery.

The event on February 25 brings together the city’s best mixologists to try their hand at creating some special drinking sensations.

Kismet owner Kymberly Widley says there are so many bars with great cocktails that it seemed only right to let them battle it out. The idea is to roll the competition throughout the country but the local version is to test out the concept.

“The space is set up for two bartenders to go head to head and for people to come along and watch. It will be a lot of fun.”