Adrift, the mysterious blue building with tiki lamps at 218 S. Broadway, just revealed some juicy details to Eater Denver. For starters, Wade Kirwan, currently the sous chef at Encore On Colfax, will be heading the kitchen. Kirwan worked at Vesta Dipping Grill for 11 years, where he served as executive chef for five years before moving on to Solera and later to Encore. He's also been bartending part-time at Crash 45, which he opened with buddy Shane Evans. He'll be leaving both Encore and Crash 45 within the month and he's already started writing the Adrift menu.
Admittedly, before Kirwan signed on, he said that he expected Adrift to be a little cheesy from the outside, but once good friend and Adrift bar manager Matty Durgin gave him a tour, he was sold on the idea. "It's not cheesy at all. It's kitschy, but it's cool. I really like the space," he said. "It's a life-changing opportunity for me because I'm opening a restaurant. I also get to do what I want with the menu, which is cool." Kirwan says he's not planning on crafting a strictly Asian or Polynesian menu. He plans to run a fun, yet focused kitchen where seasonality and creativity take the stage.
Durgin and Adrift owners Jay Dedrick and Brent Kimball told us that Kirwan was their first choice when they were looking for a chef. "He's a good friend and a very confident and talented young chef. We're really happy to have him on board," Durgin said. Durgin has also recruited Ricki Jones from Mezcal to assist with beverage program and together they've been working with tiki drink aficionado Martin Cate from Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco.
The research going into Adrift is pretty intense. Durgin, who collects rum and is passionate about tiki culture, says his number one priority is to ensure that the cocktail menu pays the proper homage to tiki tradition. He says he's not cutting any corners. The bar will be stocked with fresh juices, all of them made daily. He'll also feature as many local Colorado spirits as possible.
So when will Adrift open? And what can we expect? It's too early to say, but Kimball says it will be soon. He's not interested in setting a date until the team is totally ready. Until then, we'll continue to wonder what the inside looks like, and we'll have photos as soon as Adrift is ready to show some skin.