We might all be Manhattan and martini connoisseurs now, but not even ten years ago, properly made classic cocktails were a lot more difficult to find not just in Denver, but in any city. And cocktail bars -- at least the trendy cocktail bars that keep proliferating today -- were virtually non-existent.
Luckily, a pack of eager bartenders in cities on the coasts dedicated themselves to reviving the pre-Prohibition standards of drink mixing, geeking out on the classics while innovating new concoctions at the same time. And one of those bartenders was Jim Meehan, who built a formidable drink program at the Gramercy Tavern and bartended at the Pegu Club in New York City before opening PDT in 2007, a trend-setting speakeasy-style spot in the East Village, then one of the only real cocktail bars in Manhattan.
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Meehan has opened a lot of drinkers' eyes to mixology, but he's also had a major influence on his fellow bartenders -- for instance, James Lee, one of the godfathers of the Colorado cocktail scene, credits Meehan for his own dedication to the craft, saying it all started with a Pimm's Cup Meehan mixed up in 2006. Sean Kenyon, owner of Williams & Graham, says, "He amazes me because for all the talent and fame he has in the industry, he's still one of the most humble guys in the industry. He's very particular about the way things are."
And soon, you'll have a chance to meet the man yourself: Meehan will be in Denver next week, and he's making a couple of stops.
On Tuesday, says Kenyon, Meehan will be at Williams & Graham for a book signing -- he just released The PDT Cocktail Book, a bartender's guide that details more than 300 drinks -- and a little guest bartending. That kicks off at 4 p.m., and Kenyon describes it as a "meet-and-greet and hang out." And that's probably your best bet to score some face time with the king of drinks: Meehan is also doing a class and dinner at Frasca Food and Wine on Wednesday, but the event is sold out.