One Night Only: California’s Prizefighter to “Takeover” Williams & Graham

March 28 2014, 10:27 AM

Sean Kenyon, the nationally-honored owner of Williams & Graham, is no stranger to mixing things up—in more ways than one. Back in December, inspired by guest bartending gigs, he asked his 4,000-plus Facebook friends if anyone would be interested in a “takeover” of Williams & Graham. The idea: Kenyon would fly in bartenders behind some of the country’s most celebrated watering holes, and in return, the visiting bar would make Williams & Graham entirely its own for one night. That includes staffing the space; selecting details like lighting and music and the door policy; and slinging a full menu of drinks. In no time, Kenyon received 48 responses from industry peers. He narrowed that list down to eight. This Monday, March 31, Kenyon will turn his award-winning speakeasy over to his first set of guests, Jon Santer and the team behind Prizefighter in Emeryville, California.

When doors open at 5 p.m., the team from Oakland will serve their Dragon Variation (a mixture of gin, vermouth, and chile tincture), a selection of punch bowls such as the Derby (bourbon, peach, lemon tea, and Prosecco), a list of spiked iced coffees, and all the other offerings from their kitschy menu. The Williams & Graham kitchen will turn out Prizefighter bar snacks such as spiced Marcona almonds and soft pretzels with cheese sauce. The Eels or other indie rock bands will blare from the speakers. Kenyon guesses that Santer—likely bedecked in the signature Prizefigher tee shirt—will want the lights turned up a bit. And he’s welcome to pull a piece of art off the wall to reveal a hidden window should they wish, Kenyon says. “Our bar is Prizefighter for the night.”

Sound a lot like the pop-up concept? It is, except for semantics. “One of the phrases I hate the most is pop-up,” Kenyon says. “This is a full takeover.”

On Tap: Look for upcoming takeovers at Williams & Graham from the following establishments: New York City’s PDT, Trick Dog from San Francisco, Boston’s the Hawthorne, Chicago’s Sable Kitchen & Bar, The Regent Cocktail Club from South Beach, Austin’s Half Step, and San Francisco’s Smugglers Cove.

3160 Tejon St, 303-997-8886

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