Bryan Dayton, owner of Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth (which is under construction after a fire there this spring), flew to Vegas this fall and outdid dozens of mixologists from around the country to bring home a big first prize: He was named GQ Bombay Sapphire's most inspired bartender in the country.
As part of his prize, Dayton was treated to a GQ photo shoot in anticipation of the December Men of the Year issue, which features him and the second- and third-place runners up. And now the new magazine has hit the stands.
How did Dayton feel about being featured? "I thought it was awesome," he says. "It seems surreal. I hadn't even seen the real magazine yet, but I was walking out of a meeting near Boulder Bookstore, and I stopped in to get it. It's pretty fun to walk into the Boulder Bookstore and say, 'Oh, wow. There I am on page 97.'"
He was happy with the way the feature turned out, with one exception. "The one photo in the middle is of all of us being serious," he says. "It's kind of the GQ look, but it's not always my best."
GQ also ran about 5,000 copies that feature Dayton on the cover, and he'll have a stack of those for his personal collection, which already in includes other keepsakes from the event as well as the tux and the suit he wore for the photos. "Now I wear them every day around my house," he jokes. "Sometimes barefoot, sometimes with shoes."
As part of his prize, Dayton will be going to London for the world championship, where he and his fellow Americans will compete against teams of bartenders from around the globe. He says he's already preparing for the contest, even though he doesn't know exactly when it will take place. "There's only so much you can do at a cocktail competition," he explains. "But I'm fine-tuning my service and some of those things so I can be really crisp and clean. The technical aspects are more important in Europe. I've got some ideas for preparation, but I can't tell you what they are."
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Before he heads out to compete, though, Dayton has a restaurant to reopen. "We still don't have a definite date," he says of Oak on Fourteenth. "It'll be before the end of the year, hopefully by Christmas. We were trying to get open for the GQ story -- but I can only push these guys so hard. I'm not a carpenter; I can't do it myself. Trust me, I'm ready to be back at work."
He promises to nail down Oak's reopening date soon. And when the place does start serving again, Dayton's winning cocktail will be on the list -- not least because the Colorado-inspired blend of juiced pears; simple syrup infused with sage, fennel and juniper; blackberry; Bombay Sapphire East; yellow chartreuse and lime will help a good cause.
"Bombay Sapphire is sponsoring martini week," Dayton explains. "Several accounts are putting a Sapphire cocktail on the menu. For every cocktail sold, Bombay will donate $1 to a charity of choice. So it will be on there for a while, for sure." Oak's charity, he notes, will be related to prostate cancer.