Building a business takes time, and it’s a process prone to setbacks. Every entrepreneur knows it, but the team behind American Bonded really knows it.
It’s been about four years since Justin Anthony, Lisa Vedovelli and Sean Kenyon decided not just to open a bar next door to Cold Crush, but to build one, and the plan has finally come to fruition.
American Bonded is now open at 2706 Larimer St.
In the time it took to get here, Cold Crush has closed and a slew of new spots has opened up along Larimer. None of them, apparently, had the bad luck American Bonded had.
“We have had an Xcel transformer fall off a post and light the back of our building on fire. We have had the entire side of the building get hit with a backhoe and cave in. We have had gas problems, electrical problems, flooding — anything you can think of,” Anthony said. “Famine, locusts — all of that stuff has happened, not to mention a really wild ride with the city.”
The bar was built in the gap between the former Cold Crush and a residential duplex to the east. As Denverite reported in May 2017, there were originally plans for a second and third floor for offices. Instead, the building ended up being a floor and a half — the half being American Bonded’s rooftop patio.
That roof will open a little later, as they’re still putting on the finishing touches, but it should be a big draw when it’s ready. The only other nearby rooftop drinking spaces are at 10 Barrel Brewing and Los Chingones. (There are, though, some excellent ground-level patios around.)
The name American Bonded comes from the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which set legal regulations and standards for the aging and bottling for spirits like whiskey. So, yes, this place has a whiskey focus and wide-ranging selection.
“Kevin [Burke] and Sean both have a passion for spirits that have been kind of relegated to that cheap bottle status, like Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. We’re throwing them in some of the tastiest cocktails you’ve ever had,” Anthony said.
Burke (Colt & Gray, Ste Ellie) and Kenyon (Williams and Graham, Occidental) are “really experienced, serious about what they do, but whimsical as hell,” Anthony continued. “Like, we will have a slushy machine on the roof. So while there will be really well executed classics, all of our classics are a little bit off the beaten path. … A lot of people are doing a good job paying attention to those old classics, but we like B-sides and remixes.”
And that’s what’s at the heart of American Bonded — a high-low mix of creativity and approachability.
“From the start our goal was approachability and having affordable craft cocktails,” said Vedovelli, who along with Anthony owns Matchbox. It’s the pair’s experience running a neighborhood bar for nearly a decade driving the goal to do high-brow fare with low-brow prices and a welcoming atmosphere.
It applies to the food, too, which is provided by Jason Bray’s J Street Food Truck.
“Our goal here is, you get a bunch of people who are incredibly passionate about booze and invite everyone else to the party, and accessibility is the unifying theme,” Anthony said. “If you look at the price points and you look at — everything on the menu is understandable. We want people to feel welcome. If someone wants to order a Cosmo, we’re going to make them the best fucking Cosmo they’ve ever had.”
American Bonded will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Food service lasts until 1 a.m.