Euclid Hall's Ryan Conklin is the only certified Cicerone behind a Denver bar. Cheers!
Ryan Conklin, certified Cicerone and head barman at Euclid Hall, doesn't think his reasons for going into bartending were very different from what motivates other professionals in the industry. "Like a lot of bartenders, you just kind of have some sort of drive to it, whether that's getting behind the bar before you turn 21 and pouring a couple of beers, or being a kid and mixing together orange juice and lemonade or pouring a suicide from the soda machine," he explains. "You know you like mixing things together and seeing what you come up with. I think everyone knows early on."
courtesy of Ryan Conklin
Still, he didn't actually get behind a bar until he was of legal drinking age. "My first shot behind the bar was shortly after I turned 21, when I got a chance to bartend and pour beers at Rock Bottom," he recounts.
Shortly after Conklin's first exposure to beverages, he moved back to Colorado. "I focused my life on professional snowboard photography," he says. "I did that for five years while I bussed tables at Sweet Basil in Vail. I took a major step back in developing my restaurant skills, but I was learning about wine and the nuances of fine dining service."
Conklin developed a love for those nuances of hospitality and for educating guests who came through the door. So when he got another chance to get behind the bar in 2005, he took it -- and never looked back, working at places like the Gashouse and Zach's Cabin before coming on board at Euclid Hall, where he was afforded a unique opportunity to pursue the Cicerone program, which certifies professional beer servers -- much like the Court of Master Sommeliers does with wine. Six months later, with the help of a big community of mentors, Conklin had passed level one and level two of the program, making him the only certified Cicerone behind a bar in Denver.
What follows is Conklin's view of life behind the stick (or taps):