YesYou may have noticed a new signature in this section last week. The prolific and illustrious Michael J. Casey left a big growler to fill at weekly blockwith all the ink he’s shed over the years writing about beer in the county.
So who is this new writer? What does he even know? A lot and not enough, generally. When I was asked to take over this column, my answer was an immediate and resounding “yes”. I happen to have some references.
My first taste of scotch was the good stuff, 20 year old memory is hazy but probably a Talisker or an Oban. It was a balm, an ointment, a mercy granted to me by the bartender. This is where my whisk(e)y education began – underage in a Chicago pub, drinking way above my weight class.
What followed was a checkered career in bars and restaurants, rock clubs, and some pretty terrible decision-making to go along with it. But the love of whiskey never left me and I rarely settled for the cheap stuff.
It took me another decade to begin to appreciate fine American whiskey, coincidentally shortly after moving to Boulder County in 2011. Working at Q’s Restaurant in Boulderado, I was blessed with managers who shared my tastes and ensured my desire to learn. I got hooked on quality rye and bourbon after that, a habit almost as expensive as Scotch.
My real alcohol education came with my job at the Anvil Distillery, shaping their bar program and learning how whiskey and gin are actually made. It was a humbling experience, learning the patience that goes into a true spirit from grain to glass. From bringing spent grains to pig farms, learning about fermentation, or constantly trying to reinvent my cocktail list, this was an immersive crash course in the world of small-batch distillation. .
Before Anvil I thought I figured it out, but you don’t know the love and sweat it takes to make booze until you’re covered head to toe in wet, sticky grits, trying to scratch that which looks like a mixture of concrete and dried oatmeal on a floor. Every exhausting moment was worth it. And I’ve developed a love of gin that rivals my love of whisk(e)y.
When Anvil closed in 2019 it was heartbreaking for all of us who worked there and for the amazing regulars who kept us going for years. Yet even the most popular places eventually close or change. Anvil wasn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Over the next nearly four years, I wrote bar menus, developed cocktails, and found new places to love. I wrote, took pictures and set up a bar or two. I am continually impressed with the quality of alcohol flowing from Boulder County and Colorado in general.
All this is a lot of words to say, I am not a purist. I am not an elitist. I have very little interest in shaming people for their choice of libation, alcoholic or otherwise. Drink whatever makes you happy, even if it’s a can of White Claw.
What I a m explores the wealth of craft distillers, brewers, mead makers and cocktail enthusiasts in and around Boulder County. There are so many people in our area doing so many cool things that it will take thousands and thousands of words to cover it all.
I will write as much as a man can at the mercy of my liver. I hope you will explore with me, to find the sumptuous and the strange. We’ll be looking for the best bars, the sweetest spirits (maybe not literally) and the coolest cocktails, from Lyon to Nederland, Louisville and Lafayette.
In the coming weeks, this column will take a look at tiki drinks and a few distilleries that are trying to grow. It will be full of adventures and mysteries, I promise.
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