The Stranger Is a New Cocktail Pop-Up in Denver | Westword

The Stranger, a High-End Monthly Cocktail Pop-Up, Kicks Off This Sunday

It's the latest addition to the Regular, a fine dining restaurant that debuted on Market Street last year.
Cocktails are the star at The Stranger.
Cocktails are the star at The Stranger. Bird Tree Productions
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It all started with the Guest, a private dining series that Syd Younggreen and her partner, chef Brian De Souza, ran out of the home they share.

After a successful run, the pair turned their attention to opening a brick-and-mortar. The Regular debuted at 1432 Market Street last July and proved to be an impressive fine-dining addition to downtown. They also brought back the Guest as an intimate tasting-menu experience that takes place in a connected but separate space.

They also launched a third concept, El Mercado, in another connected space, but after a short run, the team decided to shutter the daytime market that had served lunch offerings; they plan to put a boutique wine and spirit shop in its place.

But first, on Sunday, March 3, the bartending crew at the Regular will take center stage with the launch of another addition dubbed the Stranger. Reservations are still available for the 8 p.m. slot for this new, high-end cocktail pop-up that will take over the bar and lounge area on the first Sunday of each month starting at 4 p.m., when the Regular is closed for dinner service. There is a $25 fee to book a slot, which covers each guest's first drink. Walk-ins will be welcome as well. Guests can also now book for the April 7 edition of the event.

"We already have an elevated cocktail program here at the Regular, but the Stranger is pushing it to that next level," says beverage director Bruce Martin Polack. Everyone on the bar team has been working to create the menu for the Stranger's launch, he notes: "We want to let their creative minds fly."
click to enlarge head shots of four men in a collage
The bar team: Bruce Martin Polack (top left), Alex Bazewicz (top right), Roilen Ivester (bottom left), Ian Dioso (bottom right).
Bird Tree Productions

"As a bartender, you're creative, and sometimes when you're in the middle of a busy service, you are a little more limited in your creativity and your time frame that you're able to work a cocktail," says lead bartender Ian Dioso. "These are going to be multi-touch craft cocktails that the bartenders are going to take their time with. Not only are we taking time building these cocktails, we're taking time to prep the ingredients, do infusions and use higher-quality ingredients. ... We can splurge and do more of those crazy cocktails. It's nice to have this canvas to display our creativity on."

"Having that time and that freedom to sit down and think about something we can do to make something phenomenal is really what makes [the Stranger] special," adds bartender Alex Bazewicz.

The inaugural event will include five drinks to choose from, three of which were created specifically for the pop-up, with plans to add more for future events. One, created by Bazewicz, is called Saint Lucia's Eyes, named for the patron saint of vision. "It's a riff on an El Diablo," he explains, featuring turmeric grapefruit cheong (a syrup) and añejo tequila with lime and cassis spheres on top. "The idea there is to present the cocktail in a different way, and to interact with it — people aren't used to interacting with drinks, so it's just a fun way to do it."

Guests will also be able to order flights of spirits from the back bar, which include small-batch, hard-to-find selections, and De Souza has created some complimentary snacks that will be served alongside the libations.

"The Stranger right now is a baby project," De Souza notes. "We can all imagine that at some point, it's going to be its own place. What I'm expecting from the Stranger is an absolute place for bartenders to be creative — not only flavor-wise, but also presentation-wise, and having fun doing so. ... The sky is the limit."

Dioso adds, "What you should expect when you come to the Stranger is something you haven't seen before — that's cocktails, glassware. That goes back to our beverage program and the type of spirits we work with."

The team is excited about curating a fun, energetic vibe for the cocktail pop-up, with plans to have DJs on hand for future events. The space will be dimmed, with red lights adding to the feel. "We want to make it sexy, we want to make it dark and moody and have fun with it," De Souza says. "Expect a little bit of the unexpected."
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