Michael Cerretani tapped as bar manager of Session Kitchen -- and he's hiring passionate bartenders

Categories: Booze

Tyler Levey

There's a harvest of autumn restaurant openings that I'm looking forward to, but the one that I'm most excited about -- the one that I'm tracking with intense anticipation -- is Session Kitchen, a new restaurant from Breckenridge-Wynkoop that's tentatively slated to open in Platt Park on October 29.

We revealed the concept -- "globally-inspired cuisine that's shared among guests in iron-clad cookware, portioned the way you want it' -- in mid-August, along with the news that Scott Parker, the long-time chef of Table Six, had departed that kitchen to run the culinary show at Session, and Parker isn't the only bold name to come on board: Michael Cerretani, a local bartender whose savviness with spirits resulted in a top ten national finalist position in 2010's GQ-Bombay Sapphire Inspired Bartender Competition, a top three national finalist standing in the 2011-2012 Esquire magazine/Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience, and a first place finish in the 2012 Denver GQ-Bombay Sapphire competition, has been tapped as the restaurant's bar manager.

See also: The scoop on Session Kitchen, the new Platt Park restaurant from Breckenridge-Wynkoop

And Cerretani, whose credits also include several local bartending competition takeaways, a three-year stint behind the stick at the Bitter Bar, numerous bar-and-restaurant consulting gigs and a spell with Beverage Distributors, where he did staff training and menu development, happens to be friends with Ken Kodys, the beverage manager of the Brecknridge-Wynkoop empire. "Ken and I are good friends, and once he realized that I was no longer with Beverage Distributors, he gave me a call and we chatted about the vision of Session Kitchen, and it was extremely appealing to me on a lot of different levels," says Cerretani. "My passion lies in being behind the bar of a restaurant and curating beverage programs, and aside from the fact that Scott Parker is amazing, Ken and I have very similar backgrounds -- plus I've always wanted to be the architect behind a from-the-ground-up beverage program, and this is an opportunity to really push the boundaries," he adds.

The cocktail program at Session, he stresses, will be "advanced," and one of the bars on the main level of the two-tiered space -- "Session Bar" -- is a stage, he says, for bartenders and cocktail crowds alike to dabble in innovation and intrigue. "I'm going to do things that I haven't done a lot of in the past -- smoked cocktails, for example -- and one of the really cool things about the Session Bar, is that it won't have a printed menu," says Cerretani. Instead, the "intention is to create a showcase for the cocktails, and the bartenders working the seats will be able to exercise their own creativity by designing custom cocktails based on whatever spirit the guest wants," he tells me.

And while Cerretani admits the this country's modern cocktail culture has resulted in a degree of elitism, he emphasizes that Session won't embrace the pompousness. "We're not in the business of saying 'no' to guests," he insists. "We want people to have a wonderful dining and drinking experience -- that's our number one priority, and let's face it: No one wants to sit in front of a snobby bartender."

Location Info

Session Kitchen

1518 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

This all sounds really exciting, but I'm afraid to get my hopes up too much. While the talent being brought into this restaurant is top-notch, Breck-Wynkoop hasn't proven they can pull off anything except bland corporate mediocrity. Fingers crossed that Session Kitchen finally breaks the mold.

Mantonat topcommenter

"Portioned the way you want it" - Does that mean you'll actually be able to order shared plates sized to the number of people sharing instead of relying on what the restaurant thinks a "small plate" is? If so, its one of the most basic ideas that no restaurant seems willing to deliver. Hope that's the case!

LoriMidsonCafeSociety moderator editor

@Mantonat From my original post about the concept: 

"And no matter where you sit -- the restaurant will accommodate 280 butts -- you'll have access to Parker's full sessional menu, a one-pot culinary concept that's new to Denver, insomuch that portions will be adjusted according to the number of guests at each table. For example, if you want to order roast chicken, you can request a "session" for two, three, four, six, eight -- however many people decide they want roast chicken. In other words, a "session" is a portion, and the purpose behind that innovative, customizable way of eating is to move away from the traditional one-and-done entrée plate. "The idea is to do light but hearty and filling one-pot meals that embrace a communal style of eating," says Cina. "We want people to share food and share flavors -- that's the core of what we're doing."

Mantonat topcommenter

@LoriMidsonCafeSociety Awesome! Such a simple idea and yet not something you generally see attempted or executed.

The bar program looks great too.  I love the neighborhood restaurant scene but it's been missing a good beer bar for ages.

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