TAG lands top bar talents James Lee and Bryan Dayton
James Lee behind the stick at the Bitter Bar, his former home
It's been a busy spring for Troy Guard and Leigh Sullivan-Guard, who opened TAG | RAW BAR in a below-ground spot in Larimer Square just before they became operating partners at Madison Street, the Larimer Associates project over on 12th Avenue and Madison Street.
And now, they've announced a couple of big additions to their bar program, too: James Lee, who left the Big Red F group and Happy's Bitter Bar for a restaurant in Salida last year, will come on as beverage director of TAG, and Bryan Dayton, who's rebuilding Oak at Fourteenth after a fire, will consult on the new cocktail list at Madison Street.
"It was time to come back," Lee says of his move. "Salida was a little too small for us. I've known Troy and Leigh for five or six years and I really admire them. We sat down and talked, and they explained they have a really high standard and a really high expectation of a bar manager or a beverage director, and I felt like I could fit in."
He went on to say that the hardest part of his decision was choosing not to return to Big Red F with Dave Query, where he won several awards for his skills, including a nod from Playboy as one of the top ten mixologists in the country. "I really felt like I could add my skills and professionalism to TAG," he says.
Lee will start behind the stick on May 2, taking over the beverage program at TAG first with the eventual goal of running the ship across all of the TAG restaurants, including TAG | RAW BAR, Madison Street and whatever else Guard and Sullivan-Guard open.
And as the pair amps up Madison Street, Dayton, top-notch tender and part of Sullivan-Guard's FIVE, will come on to streamline the cocktail program, adding his expertise behind the bar while he continues to redevelop Oak at Fourteenth.