Kevin Burke, head barman at Colt & Gray in Denver, and a finalist for Denver Magazine's 2010 Mixologist of the Year award, told that magazine, in an October interview, that he had some pretty heady past credits, including having worked at New York's Pegu Club, Milk & Honey, PDT and Death & Co.
That line-up would have set off warning bells for any journalist who works here in Gotham. (Have any bartenders every worked at all four of those top joints?) But Denver Magazine printed it. And guess what? Burke was lying—about all of it. And not just casual lies. This was one of his quotes, "When working at Pegu Club in New York City…'head barman' was the term because the structure at Pegu was you had your manager who ran the numbers and then you had the head barman who coordinated with the bartenders in Audrey [Saunders’] absence."
Of course, word got out. Bartenders travel frequently, and some from other cities got ahold of the Denver publication. They tipped off Denver Magazine, which in turned called Saunders. "I don’t know who he is," Saunders said of Burke. "I handpick all my employees and don’t remember him, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. So I looked through the employee records, and he doesn’t exist." Saunders, in turn, checked with the proprietors of Death & Co., Milk & Honey and PDT. Burke didn't work at any of those places either.
Then it gets better. As Denver Magazine reports:
I called Burke this afternoon to get his reaction. “I just got off the phone with Audrey Saunders,” I said.
“Oh, excellent! How is she?” Burke replied.
“She’s doing okay except that she is telling me that you never worked there.”
Burke’s response? “Really…Okay…I’m amazed that she would say that.”Burke eventually fessed up, and issued an apology. It said in part, "It was not my intent to mislead about my employment history. My hope is that we can all put this behind us and get back to what it is we all love doing whether that is making drinks or consuming them." Which is sort of a non-denial denial.
When I get to Denver, I plan to look up Mr. Burke and try his cocktails. One things for sure—I won't be seeing him in New York anytime soon.