Adam Dunbar: If you're not having fun, it's not worth it
Five words to describe your drink list: Expansive, approachable, intimidating, tasteful and modern.
Favorite drink on your list: That's such a tough thing. We've got a beer cocktail on the menu called Sister Cities -- it's Leopold's Apple, Leopold's American orange and lemon juice shaken and then topped with Boulevard Sun-filtered Wheat. It does some really cool things to the beer, and it just accentuates the flavors that come out. It's an easy sell. Honestly, though, we've got wonderful cocktails, but I'm such a beer guy. My go-to beer, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is Odell's IPA. As far as IPA goes in Colorado, Odell's has it beat.
Favorite item on your back bar: My bottle of Fernet Branca.
What was your craziest night behind the stick? Any night during Great American Beer Fest. Pick a night at random, it doesn't make a difference. They were all bonkers. The biggest, most intense night we had was during an event with Avery, and we poured all of the Beast beers in the same room at the same time: Mephistopheles, Meph Addict, Samael's and The Beast. We were the deepest at the bar than maybe I've ever seen -- and it was amazing. Darren, our Avery rep, stood on the bar and announced that it was the first time the Beasts had been poured in the same establishment, which was really neat to have.
Favorite Denver venue for a drink that's not your own and what you order when you're there: I'm going to go with Colt & Gray for that one. For a number of reasons. When Parker [Ramey, who's now at Trillium] opened it up, we'd go visit him -- but he and Kevin [Burke] started being my go-to guys for inspiration. I know I can always go because I can name a spirit and they can make me something. Also, I'm a sucker for a really good Manhattan, and it's always perfect there. When I'm teaching someone about what I do, I tell them to read material and come back when they can explain how to make a good Manhattan. I grew up with my dad making them completely wrong, but that's the one thing I have in common with my dad booze-wise.
What's next for the Denver bartending scene? I think we're already seeing it: It's a mega-shift from artisan cocktails and less-than-stellar cocktail lists to people actually giving a shit. And more important, the consumers care more about what they're drinking then what they're spending their money on. There are always going to be those places that thrive on flavored booze, but I think people are more interested in spending money on quality stuff. And I think that's going to grow and grow.