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Behind the Bar with Michael Cerretani of TAG Restaurant Group

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

With over a decade of tending bar under his belt, Michael Cerretani is a certified pro. Cerretani started his career at The Bitter Bar in Boulder and has traveled all throughout the Front Range, working his way up the ranks from bartender to beverage director at local hotspots including Blackbelly and the now-shuttered Session Kitchen. It seems as though Cerretani has found a place to call home with TAG Restaurant Group, overseeing multiple bar programs at Troy Guard’s restaurants including Tag Restaurant and Lucky Cat. We made our way to the RiNo district’s neighborhood sanctuary, Mister Tuna, and talked hospitality and cocktails with Michael Cerretani. 

 

What drew you to bartending as a career?

I’ve been in the restaurant business for 19 years. My first serving job was when I was 19 at a restaurant that didn’t have a bartender, so the servers made all of their own drinks. It wasn’t until 2010 when I started working at the Bitter Bar in Boulder that I realized I could make a career out of mixing drinks. I’ve always loved the hospitality industry. The feeling of truly satisfying a guest, the teamwork and camaraderie that happens behind a bar, and the community of restaurants and restaurateurs that we have here in Colorado has locked me in and made me a lifer. As for the level of expertise, I’m not an expert. No one is. The second you think you know everything is the day you are proven wrong.

Michael Cerretani Tag restaurants

Cocktail creation:

Lost in Thyme

Michael Cerrentani Mister Tuna Tag Restaurants

Inspiration behind the cocktail:

I’ve always found tequila to have a very herbaceous and vegetal nature, so I wanted to highlight those aspects and enhance them. I also wanted a drink that was light, refreshing, and highly quaffable. Easy drinking and interesting.

Recipe for Lost in Thyme

In a shaker, muddle 2 cucumber wheels and 3 sprigs of thyme. Combine 1-1/2 ounces Exotico blanco tequila, 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice, and 1/2 ounce agave. Shake and double strain over a glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber and a thyme sprig.

Michael Cerrentani Mister Tuna Tag Restaurants

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All photography by Andeck Photo