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Behind the Bar: Kevin Burke at Ste. Ellie

Denver's hottest bartenders deliver the season's most seductive sips

Sneak away from the buzz of the city for high-end cocktails and treats at Ste. Ellie {1553 Platte Street, Denver; 303.477.1447}. Tucked away underneath Colt & Gray, Ste. Ellie is undeniably swanky with crescent-shaped booths and dim ambient lighting, anchored by a modest bar stacked to the brim with glittering bottles of local and international spirits. With fifteen rotating cocktails—ranging from classics to current creations—as well as a detailed wine and beer program poured by the savviest bartenders in town, guests can truly find solace here. We visited the speakeasy bar to talk the art of cocktails with Beverage Director, Kevin Burke. 

DiningOut: What drew you to bartending as a career?

Kevin Burke: I started working in restaurants because I was an art student who was drawn to the flexible scheduling. There was also a natural affinity to the feeling of putting on a nightly show, and to make going out an event. Early on in my career, I felt most comfortable being in this spotlight and at the center of this attention; as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown much more comfortable focusing my attention on the people in front of me, rather than basking in it personally. It’s a great sensation to see our guests coming in to celebrate occasions and milestones in their own lives and to trust us to make that experience special for them and to meet their needs.

St Ellie's Kevin Burke

Cocktail Creation:

All Proper Tea is Theft

St Ellie's Kevin Burke

Inspiration behind the cocktail:

I may be a tinkerer at heart, as I am fascinated by the interaction between different ingredients and different modifiers. Once we’ve highlighted an ingredient to work with, my team generates various ideas that work around that ingredient and start plugging it into drinks. If the drink is a new alcohol, we may go to our library to find classics that worked with it for inspiration. If it’s a food item, we will crack open cookbooks and flavor bibles in order to understand it’s affinities for other flavors.

St Ellie's Kevin Burke

Recipe for All Proper Tea is Theft

In a shaker filled with cubed ice, add 4 ounces Absolut Elyx vodka, 1-1/2 ounces *Fig-infused Rainwater Madeira, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice, 2 ounces lightly-sweetened *green tea, and 3 dashes of orange bitters. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds until chilled and strain into a Brass Pineapple. Garnish with straws, lemon wheels, and bunches of fresh mint.

*For the Fig-infused Rainwater Madeira: Combine 1/2 cup organic dried figs with 1/4 ounce of Henriques & Henriques Rainwater Madeira. Rest for 48 hours before straining.

*For Green Tea: Combine 1/2 cup loose green tea with 2 cups of hot water. Steep for four minutes and strain out leaves. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and stir to dissolve.

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All photography by Andeck Photo