Bryan Dayton skips Bitter Bar offer for his own project

The Bitter Bar may not have needed much more momentum to rise to the top of the Colorado cocktail scene, but it was set to take another great leap forward when it locked in mixologist Bryan Dayton, the president of the Colorado chapter of the US Bartender's Guild, to craft libations behind the bar that's the evening alter-ego of Happy.

Last week, Dayton was slated to work his last shifts at Frasca Food & Wine, and then transition over to Happy's spirits program, learning the list and taking his spot beside Mark Stoddard and James Leeon June 1.

Last week came and went, though, and Dayton was still visible through Frasca's floor-to-ceiling windows, polishing glassware and pouring tajuts of wine. So what happened?

"Bryan's working on his own thing, and it moved faster than he expected," says Bryce Clark, who does PR for the Big Red F chain of restaurants, which includes Happy. "He won't be joining us at the Bitter Bar."

James Lee had worked hard to land Dayton. "I'm sad that he won't be working with us," he says, "but I don't begrudge him doing his own thing."

What that particular thing is, Dayton will not yet divulge. And in the meantime, he'll continue managing the bar at Frasca -- while the Bitter Bar moves upward and onward without him.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk