This week Eater celebrates not only cocktails but those who make them possible, the bartenders. It is the third year of spotlighting the talent that makes our bar culture rock. Yesterday, we revealed the 14 talented bar men and women chosen for this year's feature. Today, we present you four of them in more detail — from first jobs to idols and mentors and favorite spirits.
Name: Nathaniel Maston
Where from: New Hampshire, Porstmyth
Behind the bar at: OAK at Fourteenth
First job: Host, California Pizza Kitchen
Drink of choice: Vodka and Red Bull. Sorry!
Last meal before you die: A dozen Chocolate Old Fashion Donuts from Dunkin' Donuts.
Favorite spirit: Mezcal
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?: I would like to travel to New York, I haven't spent enough time in in the city to really take it all in, recently my twin bro got accepted to Cornell med school and is living in the upper east side, I need to take some time off soon to visit him and really be able to experience the city.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?: I would want to be the human torch, totally cool.
What's on your phone's screensaver?: An old school pocket watch.
What's the best feeling when are behind the bar?: There are really a few things I love about bartendeing. When you get asked, to make a shot that you don't know or you know your bar isn't equipped for it i.e. a gummy bear or a pineapple-upside-down shot, and you sling something together and they love it. That's a win. Also, when it's just facedown, 3 deep and all your doing is making drink after drink, and once it's all over at midnight or 2 a.m., there's nothing so satisfactory like the feeling of taking a shot of mezcal knowing that you crushed it that night.
Name a bartender in Denver who is a mentor or an inspiration: Jon Feuersanger, newly added to the Beast + Bottle crew. He has been the bartender beside me since I started tending bar. He has always been someone that I could count on to taste a drink and tell me if it was good or not. We have always tried to challenged each other, and have always tried to be inspiration for each other to venture into new things.
Name: Allison Widdecombe
Where from: Big Island of Hawaii
Behind the bar at: Williams & Graham
First job: smoothie and health food prep girl at a local hawaii health food co-op
Drink of choice: sherry or vermouth-based cocktails
Last meal before you die: I could never choose. Food is my favorite thing.
Favorite spirit: I go through phases because they are all so different. Right now I'd say dry gins and low-alcohol fortified wines are what Im inclined to work with right now when I have the choice.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?: Mongolia, Okinawa, or anywhere in southeast asia. I'd go to learn about food and culture.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?: probably flying. I hate driving and I like going places.
What's on your phone's screensaver?:My boyfriend, dog and I with a bottle of champagne in front of our new house.
What's the best feeling when are behind the bar?: When things are going accordingly and everyone is enjoying themselves.
Name a bartender in Denver who is a mentor or an inspiration: I am always surrounded by too many to name just one.
Name: Kamuran Mataraci
Where from: Northern California
Behind the bar at: Argyll Whisky Beer
First job: Developing photos at the local drug store.
Drink of choice: Whichever one I'm enjoying in good company.
Last meal before you die: See above. There'd probably be seafood involved. Definitely cheese. Well-prepared lamb. Good bread. Tomatoes from my father's garden.
Favorite spirit: Whisky? Agave? Rum? I can't pick a favorite kid.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world right now, where would you go (and why)?: Cuba. My brother is going. I'm jealous.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?: To fly. So cliche...
What's on your phone's screensaver?: A photo of my dog.
What's the best feeling when you are behind the bar?: When everyone on the other side is enjoying themselves.
Name a bartender in Denver who is a mentor or an inspiration: Kevin Burke
Name: Michael Cerretani
Where from: Binghamton, NY
Behind the bar at: Blackbelly Market
First job: Line crew at Miller Aviation. My job consisted of washing airplanes and floors. That was pretty much it. But, every time the maintenance facility was done working on an airplane they took it for a test flight, and I usually got to go along which was pretty cool.
Drink of choice: My go to has always been a Manhattan. I think it is as close to perfect as you can get in a cocktail.
Last meal before you die: New England Style Garbage Can Dinner. It's where you take a metal garbage can and fill it with Corn, Potatoes, Andouille Sausage, Clams, Mussels, Lobster, lots of butter and chicken stock, throw it over a fire and drink beer while it cooks. So good.
Favorite spirit: Scotch
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?: New Zealand. I've never been and it has always been on my bucket list.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?: Flight. I've always been obsessed with Aviation, it would be pretty cool to be able to fly without an airplane.
What's on your phone's screensaver?: A photo of my wife and I. Cheesy I know.
What's the best feeling when are behind the bar?: That's tough. Hospitality will always be the most important thing in a restaurant or bar, so succeeding at that is the best feeling by far. Being part of a bar team that is succeeding at hospitality is something else altogether. The camaraderie that goes with that is pretty amazing and extremely rewarding.
Name a bartender in Denver who you consider an inspiration: I'm going to cheat and pick two: the Layman Brothers. I've known Randy and Ryan for years and I am inspired every time I sit down at their bars. Not only are they just great guys, but you can tell that they are extraordinarily passionate about what they do.