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Behind the Bar with Jon Feuersanger from beast + bottle

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

One of the best things about being behind the bar is that the pursuit of learning and the options to be creative are endless. From educating yourself about wines and making your own infusions to coming up with new cocktail combinations that compliment a changing menu, being a mixologist is never dull. At the popular uptown restaurant beast + bottle {719 East 17th Avenue, Denver; 303.623.3223}, cocktail master Jon Feuersanger brings both a creative aspect and passion for the pursuit of an inspired beverage program to the table. DiningOut talked with Feuersanger about the best parts of his job and sipped one of his clever creations—the Orgeat Ya.

What drew you to bartending as a career? 

The best aspect of being behind the bar is the energy. On a busy night when you’re busy and your guests are having a great time—that’s the best feeling in the entire world. The first time I experienced that feeling I was hooked. My progression professionally first began with falling in love with food, and submersing myself in the food world, learning as much as I possibly could. Then I studied wine, because I loved the history and cultural aspects of wine. It has this amazing ability—like food—to transport people to places and different times. I got behind the bar because I was able to expand my wine knowledge and generally guests are very open to talking about wine. Then I began to learn about the subculture of working behind a bar. I loved that even more and have never looked back.

Cocktail creation

Orgeat Ya

Jon Feuersanger

Inspiration behind the cocktail?

This cocktail was inspired from a mai tai tiki drink. We constructed this cocktail to highlight fall/winter flavors with the structure of a mai tai cocktail. The seasonal ingredients are pumpkin and amaro orgeat. The pumpkin king cordial is made by Vapor Distilling in Boulder. We discovered this product because beast + bottle and Vapor Distilling both source their pumpkins from Munson Farm in Boulder, Colorado. The amaro orgeat was a brainchild of a fellow bartender who helped us open our newest restaurant, Coperta. The bar concept that I developed for Coperta is a bitters and aperitif-centric beverage program. This summer we both were experimenting with new ways to use amaro. This amaro orgeat changes the dynamic of what most people think of when they think orgeat. The flavor moves from nutty and floral to bitter and herbal.

Recipe for Orgeat Ya

Beast and Bottle

In a shaker without ice, add 1-1/2 ounces Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, 1/2 ounce Vapor Distillery Pumpkin King Cordial, 3/4 ounce Amaro Orgeat*, 1/4 ounce John Taylor’s Falernum, and 1-ounce lime juice. Shake and double strain into a highball glass. Top with ice and 1/2 ounce Cleto Charlie Lambrusco. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and nutmeg.

*Amaro Orgeat Syrup with Nardini: Finely slice 4 cups almonds and spread them evenly across a sheet tray. Season with salt and sugar. Heat oven to 120 to 150 degrees and roast almonds for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and blanch almonds in a bowl of 50/50 ice and water. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Strain from water and allow to dry. Place in food processor with 4 cups water and then purée. Strain with a fine cheesecloth to make almond milk. In a pot, put the almond milk and add 4 cups of sugar over medium-high heat. Allow contents to come to boil, then simmer as you add 4 teaspoons of gomme powder for texture. Allow to simmer and reduce for 30 minutes before removing from heat and allowing to cool. Add 2 cups of amaretto, 1 cup of apricot liqueur, 1/2 cup of Nardini Amaro, and 1 tsp orange blossom water and combine. Store in a glass bottle.

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All photography by Andeck Photo