New bars are opening at a steady pace in Denver right now, as the ever-resilient hospitality industry plans for post-pandemic life and a return to revelry as we once knew it. Forget Me Not, the chic cocktail destination from the Culinary Creative restaurant group and developer Matt Joblon, is the most recent debut, opening its Cherry Creek doors to the public today.
It’s been a group effort to get Forget Me Not going. Culinary Creative group partners Juan Padró, Katie O’Shea, and Max MacKissock, along with beverage director and operations partner Nicole Lebedevitch, Joblon, architecture firm Raw Creative, and Robin Smith Design, LLC have been working on the space, formerly a flower shop, for almost three years. Following the maxim that good things come to those who wait, Forget Me Not is a stunning addition to Denver’s bar scene. And early tastes indicate that Lebedevitch and MacKissock are in lockstep to deliver a high-end experience that Denver cocktail lovers will fall hard for.
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Located behind the Cherry Cricket on Clayton Street and next door to the forthcoming Clayton Members Club & Hotel, Forget Me Not is beautiful inside and out. For al fresco drinking and dining, there’s a 40-plus-seat picket-fence-lined patio with comfy rattan furniture set under a vibrant floral wall mural of forget-me-not flowers from artist Jeremiah Clark (aka Jher451). Inside, heavy purple leather bar stools and dark red velvet banquettes surround a U-shaped marble-and-walnut bar, offset by black-and-white tile floors. Walls of accordion windows let in natural light (and plenty of air flow) while eight sky lights illuminate from above, setting off glittering gold accents, from the vintage feather chandelier to the bar shelves to the antique floral paper menus to the jiggers. It feels luxe just sitting in such surroundings, and the food and drink menus reflect that aesthetic.
Lebedevitch has created a beverage program centered around flowers, barks, roots, herbs, and spices, in homage to the flower shop Forget Me Not once was. “I want to take our guests to unexpected places using possibly unfamiliar ingredients in familiar drinks they already love,” she says. Case in point: A large format Aperol spritz, which will cost a suggested 10 to 12 people $120, gets fruity notes from fresh pineapple and lemon juices and richness from a splash of banana liqueur. And the Satine, a mojito-inspired cocktail, has added depth from a spiced guava syrup, creme de cacao, and chocolate-mole bitters. Lebedevitch created the combination after a trip to Cuba three years ago, where she saw spiced guava daiquiris everywhere—and loved them. “I came home and created this chocolate and spice and guava combination,” she says. “Topping it with prosecco makes the drink fun and refreshing.”
The 14-drink menu is broken up into categories: “sparkling & low ABV,” “light & refreshing,” and “rich & stirred,” in addition to two large format offerings and two non-alcoholic cocktails that will rotate with the seasons. We hope Lebedevitch leaves the tangy zero-proof Green Machine iteration (made with Seedlip Grove 42, cucumber, salted lemon, and rosemary) on for a while, as sipping it between boozier selections is a welcome palate cleanser.
Forget Me Not also has a short list of beers, including Outer Range’s IPA and New Belgium’s La Folie sour, and 10 wines available by the glass or bottle. Sherry, the Spanish fortified wine, is also on hand, as Lebedevitch loves it both straight up and in cocktails, and finds that it’s a perfect accompaniment for MacKissock’s snacks. “It’s a great pleasure for me to introduce people to how versatile sherry is,” she says.
Lebedevitch also hopes to bring cognac “back to life” as more than just an after-dinner sipper, including it, for example, in the “rich & stirred” Ce Soir cocktail, which she likens to a lighter Manhattan. Made with cognac, Cynar, yellow chartreuse, and Angostura and Regan’s orange bitters, it’s a balanced, herbaceous take and would be ideal enjoyed with Forget Me Not’s cheese or salumi boards.
In addition to charcuterie and cheese plates, MacKissock has created a concise listing of snacks that are as elegant and cravable as the drinks. There’s a soft pretzel with gouda fondue; crudité with fava bean hummus; a relish tray with olives, cornichons, and marinated artichokes, harkening back to the cocktail hours of 1950s Manhattan; and caviar and premium tinned fish setups, too. Those with slightly bigger appetites should order the lobster roll or crab toast; the former is a miniature version of what MacKissock’s team serves at Maine Shack in LoHi, made with flash-frozen crustaceans sourced from Greenhead Lobster in Stonington, Maine. Culinary Creative’s talented head pastry chef Natalia Spampinato is baking all of the carby items for Forget Me Not, which means the pretzels, focaccia, everything-spiced crackers, and lobster roll buns are all perfect.
As its menu denotes, forget-me-nots are flowers of memories, and Lebedevitch and the Forget Me Not team are intent on helping Denver drinkers make new ones in a gorgeous setting with gorgeous things to eat and drink. The Pioneer cocktail sums it up well: Lebedevitch grew up in Connecticut, not too far from New Haven, and every Friday night, her family would drive there to have dinner at the famous Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (aka Pepe’s). “We always got two large pies: tomato with parmesan and white clam with bacon,” she says. “My siblings and I would share a pitcher of birch beer, and I wanted to create a drink that mimicked that flavor.” When looking for a source of birch for the Pioneer, which also features scotch, cognac, and orange bitters, Lebedevitch was turned on to a female-owned distillery in Hartford, Connecticut, which makes a lovely, aromatic birch liqueur. “I had to have it in the drink,” Lebedevitch says. “It was meant to be.” That liqueur belongs in that drink, just as Forget Me Not’s tony vibe, craft cocktails, and delicious snacks belong in Cherry Creek.
Forget Me Not opens on March 10, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday starting at 3 p.m. Click here to reserve your table. 227 Clayton St., 720-259-5369