In a few weeks' time, Blackbird will be unveiled in the former Handlebar Tavern space, becoming a neighborhood gathering spot for the Wash Park area. The driving force behind the new concept is the Tavern to Table group, formed by industry veterans Rob Lanphier, Brian Midtbo, and Angie Midtbo.
Though Napa-style American rustic cuisine inspired the food menu, cocktails will be more of a focus over wine for the beverage program, which barman and Williams & Graham co-owner Sean Kenyon consulted on and helped developed. Look for a compact list of about 10 house cocktails outside of some classic offerings, mostly favoring a whiskey or gin base and utilizing local ingredients.
The menu will also receive updates every few months as seasonal components like herbs and fruits are incorporated. Starting off, don't miss the Winter Solstice, which Kenyon recommends as a "delicious, aromatic after-dinner cocktail" made with Rob's Mountain gin, Leopold Bros. three pines alpine liqueur, and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, stirred and served up.
Also, look for several variations of negronis, including a sparkling version, as well as barrel-aged cocktails that will likely swap out biweekly. The spirits and beer selection will be Colorado-centric, with 10 brews on tap like Denver Beer Co.'s graham cracker porter and Colorado Native from AC Golden. Wine will also have its place on the menu, with at least a couple on tap too.
In addition to Kenyon's input on the cocktail program, he will also train the bartenders over a couple weeks, starting with the basics and covering everything from recipes to service.
"What I see Sean bringing to this more than anything, besides the creation of cocktails, is really the execution," says Brian Midtbo. "His people are so well-trained....Sean wants to make sure when you come in and you get a drink, you know what you're getting, it tastes like what the menu says it's supposed to taste like, the flavor profile is right, and if you come back a week from now you're getting the exact same cocktail."