It took me too long to get to Williams & Graham.
Only recently – as in this year, thanks in large part to the Denver Passport – have I taken a strong and serious liking to cocktails.
I’ve always been a wine and craft beer person.
It’s also true that I had to reach a certain age to feel natural about the whole idea of them; it takes a level of sophistication that allows for the ordering, drinking and making of cocktails, without the awkwardness of affectation.
People refer to Williams & Graham as a speakeasy, but it’s not illicit, so I don’t understand that reference.
Still, it is special.
You enter a cozy front room lined with bookcases, and give your name to the person at the counter.
They write it down and hand it through a small door that feeds directly to the bar.
Then, one of the bookcases opens, and you’re sent back, greeted by name as you enter the dimly lit space.
Our names were used throughout the evening, in a classy, appropriate way, not in the way bad salesmen like to overuse to try and fabricate some sort of weird intimacy.
I liked it and it put me at ease.
There with a couple of friends, we shared the tea sandwiches [oversized presentation and taste] and deviled eggs [reminder: if deviled eggs are on the menu, they’re getting ordered].
For something more substantial as a meal, I had an oyster po’boy slider and fries – made with a malt gastrique [= pleasure].
But, what we were really there for – and what most people are really there for – were the drinks.
I had a Fig on a Stick – which is a treat of a concoction of fig infused cognac, Curacao, fresh lemon juice and demerara syrup.
They also use whipped egg white in this cocktail, which the server shared in his verbal description [not printed on the menu], and that element creates a frothy drink and also helps cut through the sweetness to balance it.
Garnished with a literal fig on a stick [well, ok, not a stick, but an adorable tapas pick], the presentation was lovely.
After enjoying that wonderful creation, what did I do?
I ordered a glass of wine.
A Cotes du Rhone.
I apologized to the guy.
I’ve taken a liking to cocktails, but I’ll always be in love with my wine.
It’s the perfect place for a date, a great place to spend time with friends, and somewhere I’ll be bringing out of town guests to show them just how authentically cool our city is.
Williams & Graham