Denver was slated to get a tiki bar, Mauka Tiki, in 2011, but when the ball dropped at the end of the year, the space at 218 South Broadway was still dark. Owners Jay Dedrick and Brett Kimball are moving ahead with their plans, says Matty Durgin, who'll be the beverage manager at the new spot (and had been offering a Tuesday tiki night at Madison Street, where he'd worked up until Tuesday night), but those plans have taken some turns. "The general manager stepped out," he explains, "so we decided to move onwards and upwards."
Among the upward changes? A new name for the in-the-works bar, which will be called Adrift, to capture the proper spirit of what's now envisioned as a craft-cocktail bar with a tiki focus. "We wanted to corral the adventure and exploration of the place," Durgin notes. "It's not another South Broadway bar. We have an absolute craft-cocktail program and a high-end kitchen."
Although the owners are using tiki expert Martin Cate, bartender at San Francisco's Smuggler's Cove, to consult on the opening drink menu, Durgin promises there will be craft cocktails that aren't all about rum. And while the proposed menu "complements the bar program," he adds, "it won't be Polynesian pub food." Instead, Adrift will offer a list of fresh, seasonal and local small plates, many of which incorporate the bar's extracts and spirits.
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The decor concept remains unchanged from the original plan, complete with a "tiki'd-out back patio" that recalls Hawaii and Gilligan's Island, and construction on the entire project is just about finished. "Things are moving really fast now," Durgin says. "We're down to the nitty-gritty details."
Adrift should open in about a month, making it the first in a line-up of ambitious new Broadway spots - including Robert Thompson's Punch Bowl, a combo bowling alley/bar/restaurant going into 65 Broadway (a former Big Lots) and Gary Lee's Motor Club and Grub, a combo jazz club/bar/restaurant going into 176 South Broadway -- to rev up in 2012.
A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's food and drink scene, which arrives in e-mail boxes every Wednesday afternoon. Find out how to subscribe here.