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Most longtime Denverites are familiar with 119 S. Broadway. For years, it bore the large, instantly recognizable marquis of Kitty’s South adult theater. Before that, it was the Webber Theater. The building, originally constructed in 1917, has sat vacant since Kitty’s shuttered in 2007, but now, it’s almost curtain time for kitty’s next life: In a matter of weeks, Archetype Distillery, a 7,000-square foot, two-level distillery, tasting room, and event space, will open its doors.
Despite winning a certificate of nonhistoric status from the city, the new owners opted—to the relief of Baker residents—not to tear the building down. Instead, they gutted it, preserving the marquis outside (minus the Kitty’s signage, of course) and the old brick inside (which required a thorough cleaning).
The craft distillery to-be is the brainchild of Archetype president and lead distiller Michael Chapyak, a Denver resident who formerly worked in the health care industry. He’s engineered the industrial-chic space for mixed uses. Walking in off Broadway, you’ll find yourself in the tasting room, which borders a small art gallery area set off by a retractable glass partition. Upstairs is the sprawling, airy event space replete with a second bar and overhead views of the massive Vendome copper still. Archetype plans to host private events, tours, and classes once it’s up and running.
And while Colorado’s craft distilling sector has experienced explosive growth in the past few years, Chapyak is ensuring that his project goes against the grain—literally. While attending a distilling program at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky, his teacher gave him a sage bit of advice: “Make what you like.” Unlike most whiskey-obsessed Coloradans, Chapyak has never cared from brown spirits. Instead, Archetype will focus on vodka and gin, utilizing first-press grapes—rather than more typical grains—as a base for each. “I’ve always disagreed with the characterization of vodka as tasteless,” he says.
Chapyak will produce a London dry-style gin, influenced by his experiences across the pond at the Ginstitute. “It will be nice and smooth, great in martinis,” he says. He’s even imported a British mixologist to run the bar program, which will also highlight house-made bitters and include a small food menu. “We’ll be infusing teas in drinks, offering teas and cakes, and offering elevated bar snacks,” Chapyak says. The distillery has the capacity to focus on off-site sales, as well, and will bottle and sell its wares at liquor stores.
Construction is still underway at Archetype, but Chapyak believes it will be ready to enter soft opening phase in a couple of weeks, with a grand opening tentatively planned around Thanksgiving.
119 S. Broadway