“For Bar Manager Brian Smith, overseeing the beverage program at The Squeaky Bean involves much more than crafting a menu that aligns with the restaurant’s farm-driven cuisine. It’s about breaking through the old-school, “vest-and-tie” barrier to inspire conversation, entertain, and compel guests to return. “We recognize that our guests often peruse the drink list first, so our menu appeals to both the casual drinker and the cocktail enthusiast,” Smith says. “At the same time, it injects our irreverence and nostalgia for pop culture to promote instant connections between our guests and what we’re serving them.” Smith rejoined the restaurant in August 2013, cultivating his own
wacky brand by concocting a wide array of housemade tinctures and liqueurs, experimentingwith liquid nitrogen cocktails, and sharing his knowledge and passion for tequila and American whiskey. Smith first got into bartending after graduating from high school, when he would make drinks at home and school for friends and family. “One of my favorite drinks back then was just gin and fresh juice, drunk out of a 20-ounce mason jar,” he notes. His passion and knowledge grew exponentially over the years, and at The Squeaky Bean, he has the opportunity to build a truly spectacular bar team that is pushing the boundaries in terms of technique and preparation. He uses spirits from the
best distilleries and breweries in Colorado and takes inspiration from the restaurant’s farm, The Bean Acres, by utilizing as much of its produce as possible. The 29-year-old Smith has managed restaurants and bars for more than a
decade, taking them to new heights with dynamic beverage programs and earning him a reputation for inspiring service-oriented employees. Born and raised in Gillette, WY, Smith grew up enjoying his mother’s home cooking nearly every night, as skipping family dinner without permission was even worse than missing curfew. The power of bringing people together over a meal never left him, and his early love for classic cocktails eventually led to him developing the beverage program at Pulcinella Pizzeria and Wine Bar in Fort Collins, CO, while also earning a B.A. in History and Art History at Colorado State University. It was upon opening Pulcinella in Cherry Hills Village that Smith first ran into The Squeaky Bean Owner Johnny Ballen. At the time, Ballen was also a beverage consultant for PincheTaqueria, and brought Smith on to oversee the bar program for nearly two years. Before joining The Squeaky Bean full-time, he worked alongside friends and fellow bartenders Noah Heaney and Anika Zappe to re-energize the beverage program at Coohills.
Smith currently serves as the Colorado Bartender’s Guild’s events coordinator and is in his second year of managing the beverage program for Leigh Sullivan’s Denver Five, a collaboration among Colorado’s most influential chefs to put the state’s exceptional regional cuisine on the national culinary map. The latter has led to his participation at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and events at the prestigious James Beard House.
When not at The Squeaky Bean, Smith writes and performs music; spends time with Gracie, his Blue Heeler mutt; and works on building a pot still so he can start making his own whiskey.”