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Throwback Thursday: Cocktail Week 2012

Denver's Top Bartenders
Denver's Top Bartenders
Photography by Jennifer Olson

On its first year as a week-long celebration, Eater Cocktail Week 2012 featured everything from Denver's top bartenders to trends, special drinks, and local spirits. While we are still in the middle of this year's boozy feast at Eater, we wanted to take a moment to look at what we talked about a year ago, update you on where the featured bartenders are, and think about how last year's trends evolved.


The eleven Denver's bartenders Eater spotlighted last year still run some of the most successful bar and cocktail programs in town. Among them were Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham, Randy and Ryan Layman of Ace and Steubens, Mike Henderson of Linger and RootDown, Bryan Dayton of Oak at Fourteenth and Acorn, Kevin Burke of Colt & Gray, and Adam Hodak of the Green Russell.


Anika Zappe, who was at Punch Bowl Social a year ago, decided to take some more time for her family and try a few other bar collaborations— she is now at Star Bar. Alex Parks is still at Oak at Fourteenth, but she added Acorn, sister restaurant to the Boulder eatery, to her schedule. The rest of the crew stayed put in the exact places they were in a year ago.


Two of last year's interviews featured bartenders Ryan Conklin and James Lee. A year ago, Conklin was pouring drinks at Euclid Hall and James Lee was still at the Bitter Bar. Since then, Conklin who is a certified cicerone worked at Old Major for six months and then moved to Kansas to study under Ryan Maybee of Manifesto for the BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource) program and exam. Conklin promised he'll return to Denver. At the end of April, Lee packed up his bartending tools and moved to Austin, Texas where he is in the process of opening his own bar.

What trends did we talk about a year ago? Fat washed spirits and cocktails, a trend that (mercifully) died down, boozy milkshakes, a movement that plateaued, beer cocktails, which don't seem to be growing or decreasing in popularity, and low alcohol drinks, an increasingly popular item on cocktail lists.

We talked sherry and sherry cocktails, something that bartender Matt Durgin drew our attention to, local spirits like Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey and the CapRock Gin, and unusual cocktail programs like the one at Pizzeria Locale which does not include any hard alcohol.

And you know what else we talked? Hangovers. There were lots of tips and tricks on how to deal with the aftermath of a big night of drinking. Tune back in at 1 o'clock for a brand new power hour on hangovers.

· All Cocktail Week 2012 Coverage [EDen]
· Maeby From Amy Kempster of Colt & Gray [EDen]
· Leo's Revenge From Allison Widdecombe of Williams & Graham [EDen]
· The Cocktail Heatmap: A Guide to Where to Drink Now [EDen]
· Lucinda Sterling on Transcontinental Bartending, Scrutiny Behind The Bar, [EDen]
· All Cocktail Week 2013 Coverage [EDen]