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Patience must be a barman’s virtue. Three years ago, Sean Kenyon (Williams & Graham, Occidental) announced his plans to open American Bonded with the Matchbox co-owners Justin Anthony and Lisa Vedovelli. After construction delays and a drawn-out wait for city permits, that dream finally comes to fruition early next month (exact opening date TBA), when the whiskey–focused bar starts slinging drinks in RiNo.
And when it does, it will be with master drink-maker Kevin Burke (who spent eight-and-a-half years managing the bars at Colt & Gray and Ste Ellie) serving as bar manager. “Sean and I have arrived at very similar opinions about how to make cocktails and the kind of bar experience that we want to provide,” says Burke, who’s lived in RiNo for six years. “Having cut my teeth in New York, [I know] your neighborhood is your third space [after home and work]. RiNo reminds me a lot of that. People don’t have that space where they can invite their friends over for a round, and I think there’s a real opportunity to provide that.”
Beyond their similar visions, Kenyon thought Burke was the right man for the job because of one particular trait: “One thing Kevin has always had is an amazing palate; his palate for whiskey and his ability to taste is incredible,” Kenyon says. “When we were talking about building a whiskey list, having quality and value wrapped up in the same menu, I couldn’t think of anyone but Kevin.”
As you may have guessed, the spirits list will lean heavily on American whiskeys, but it will also showcase whiskeys from around the world (including Indian, Thai, and Tasmanian labels). Though domestic brands will be the overall focus, there will be global offerings of other tipples, plus beer, wine, and nonalcoholic options. Kenyon’s main goal is to make the offerings approachable and affordable—“to have the best spirits at the best prices.”
“My prevailing philosophy has been finding beauty in simplicity,” Kenyon says. “[We’re creating a] cocktail menu that’s simple in its construct and ingredients.” That translates to two house cocktails (a mint julep and an old fashioned), eight classic cocktails, and eight original cocktails—at an average of $9 a drink.
Americana food with a Southern influence—think bbq chicken sandwiches, pimento cheese, and the like—will be available via a walk-up counter run by J Street Food Truck.
Kenyon describes American Bonded’s venue as classic, sleek, and fun, staying away from the industrial look that has become de rigueur across the country. A 36-foot-long, concrete-and-maple bar shoots down one wall; across the room sits a high-top banquette; and the whole space opens up onto a patio via a large garage door. There’s also a rooftop deck with its own bar.
“Somewhere between the acumen of Williams & Graham and the energy of Occidental is where American Bonded is going to fall,” Kenyon says. “A lot of that is going to be defined by the people that come to our bar. If you’re truly a neighborhood bar, you have to let yourself be defined, at least partially, by your neighborhood. We feel strongly that what we’re doing fits what the neighborhood needs.”
We’ll see if the ’hood agrees—we have a feeling it will—when American Bonded opens its doors next month.
American Bonded will be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily at 2706 Larimer St.; food will be available until 1 a.m.