Openings and Closings

Nate Windham dishes dirt on the "dirty" martini

Nate Windham, cocktail and spirits specialist, created the bar program at Paragon Culinary School in Colorado Springs in 2003. He's currently the head bartender at The [email protected] and a proud member of the Colorado Bartenders Guild. Earlier this month, he left his office at the Office to join his CoBG colleagues at the opening night of Denver Food & Wine, where he poured out the drinks, poured on the charm, and pushed his No Dirty Martinis movement with Drink of the Week columnist Nancy Levine. Now serving: Nate Windham.

How did you get into bartending? I started bartending about fifteen years ago at T.G.I. Friday's. I hated it. I worked with a group of bartenders who had all been tending bar for at least five years. At the time, the Friday's bar was leading the way when it came to flair bartending, and almost every bartender I worked with was incredible at it. I wasn't. So to set myself apart from the rest, I decided to learn as much as I could about the art of cocktails and the history of this profession.

What is your favorite drink to make? That's easy: the martini. It is the only mixed drink I order; it is the best drink I make. I love the look on guests' faces when they drink a properly made martini for the first time. Like tasting a field of flowers.

What is your least favorite drink to make? This is almost as easy as the last: the dirty "martini." I take a lot of shit about this one, but I dislike it so much I refuse to make it in my bar. First off, it is not a martini. A martini is gin, vermouth and orange bitters, not vodka and olive brine. Second, if you squeeze olives, you get olive oil — not olive juice. There is no such thing as olive juice; it is just preservative water. Lastly, this "drink" is a perfect example of what a Prohibition beverage would be. Take a spirit and cover it up with something so strong in flavor you can't taste the alcohol. I will work the rest of my years fighting against this awful beverage.

How do you feel about cutting people off? I hate that we have to do it. I try to dodge that bullet by trying not to let my guests get to the point where I have to refuse them service. Guests at my bar have to drink at my pace, not theirs.