Behind the Bar with Holly Hartnett of Venue

Behind the Bar with Holly Hartnett of Venue
Nancy Levine

Holly Hartnett has been a fixture on Denver's restaurant scene for a long time, working at Table 6 and its previous incarnation, the Beehive. Last October, she finally opened her own place, Venue, at 3609 West 32nd Avenue, and with that came a new set of challenges for Hartnett, including how to serve cocktails without a "proper" bar. But somehow she's made it work, serving cocktails that are as innovative as the food coming out of Venue's kitchen.

Now serving: Holly Hartnett, owner of Venue.

Can you enhance your food with cocktails the same way you can with wine? Well, there are those who don't like beer and wine and can only be happy with their Scotch on the rocks...so their dinner is enhanced, and that makes us happy!

Is it difficult to have the waitstaff make drinks rather than having a proper bartender? Yes. Although I am blessed with my staff, it can be difficult getting everyone to make the drinks the same way. But I guess this could be said for bartenders as well.

Who comes up with your specialty drinks? It's a collaborative effort, although the final decision is mine.

What is your favorite drink to make? Any spirit on the rocks: Space is limited, and I always stress to my staff the urgency of getting food and drink to the customers. Seriously, though, I like to make our house hard lemonade, because it's so delicious in my book!

What is your least favorite drink to make? Anything with a silly name!

What's the weirdest drink anyone has asked you to make? A Golden Cadillac with Galliano, white crème de cacao and heavy cream. It always seemed to curdle.

What's your favorite alcohol? Vodka. Dry Fly Vodka!

What's your drink of choice? Dry Fly Vodka on the rocks. Although these days I don't get to partake because I am expecting! Venue's first baby -- we're thrilled!!

What do you do in your spare time? Spare time?

What's the best tip you've ever received, either monetary or insight: I love it when customers compliment our restaurant and say they are proud of us. It makes us feel good inside!


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