If you are like me, you might think of the restaurant at Oak at Fourteenth as an upscale yet casual dining establishment. That it is. But if that is all you consider it, you would be missing out on an excellent experience: drinking cocktails at the bar made by proprietor and “Beverage Guy” Bryan Dayton.
Although tables fill most of the dining room, there is a very chic bar with 10 or so bar stools. It was here I was lucky enough to sit recently, tagging along on a Cocktail Tour courtesy of Local Table Tours.
The great thing about the Cocktail Tour (which we’ll write about separately) is that the bartender at each establishment we visited decided, on the spot, what to create for our group of six. In this case, Bryan thought a few moments and then started throwing ingredients together:
George Dickel Tennessee Whisky
Calvados Apple Brandy
All Spice Dram
Topped with a small apple slice
Bryan didn’t get the bottle of George Dickel Whisky open before telling us a story, as any good bartender should. “I like using George Dickel because it is high quality and it comes from where I was raised, in Tullahoma, Tennessee”, he explained. “My grandmother used to give it to us before going to bed so we would sleep better.”
Now it wasn’t clear how true that story was, also as should be the case with any good bartender, but those of us at the bar ate it up. Bryan has a very credible, professional personality that makes you trust both what he is saying and what he is making.
Oak at Fourteenth is the result of a partnership between Dayton and his partner Steven Redzikowski. Both worked together at Frasca before starting Oak and it was big news to have a beverage guy and a chef from one of Boulder’s best restaurants opening a new restaurant.
Sadly, it was even bigger news when after only a few months in existence, a tragic fire gutted the restaurant. The owners had to close for nine months – what could have been a fatal blow for many businesses. Luckily, there is not a shred of evidence of the fire or that it had any negative effects on the business.
The drink Bryan made for us was excellent: not low in alcohol, more like a sipping after-dinner drink, but smooth and flavorful. As is often the case, the drink has no name. But that is part of the fun. Try a visit to Oak at Fourteenth just for a drink sometime. Instead of ordering something you regularly drink, tell the bartender what sort of flavors you like and ask him or her to make you one. Whether Bryan or one of his staff are on the job, you are sure to get something special.