Rising Star Bartender Nicole Laurita of Williams & Graham - Biography

Denver, CO

March 2017

Born and raised in Denver, young Nicole Laurita knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: a tornado chaser. A slightly older Laurita decided to attend the University of Colorado Boulder and study anthropology. At 23, she walked into Williams & Graham, Denver’s OG cocktail bar. She took one sip of a Blood & Sand and her twister tailing dreams vanished like a funnel cloud.  

Laurita was struck by the bar’s welcoming atmosphere, the bartenders’ craftsmanship, and her own burgeoning love for Scotch. She started at Williams & Graham as a hostess, and, four years later, she had worked nearly every position at the bar—host, server, cook, barback, and ultimately bartender. Through Owner Sean Kenyon’s hospitality-first training and menu development program, Laurita became assistant bar manager under mentor Jason Patz. In January 2017, Laurita earned the title bar manager, and she now runs a team of 19 bartenders between Williams & Graham and its casual next door neighbor, Occidental.   

Laurita has completed the Cocktail Apprentice Program at Tales of the Cocktail (where she drank 40-year-old Scotch next to a peeing camel) and passed the BAR 5-Day (where she was so moved by a lecture on mezcal that she wept). If her staff grasps just a sliver of her intensity, warmth, style, and drive, the next generation of Denver bartenders will be a formidable bunch