“I want to throw a party every night,” Kendra Anderson says. At Bar Helix, her chic bar in Denver’s RiNo district, she does just that.
Anderson’s decades in hospitality began as a chef and then an advanced sommelier in the early 2000s. She later launched a catering company that became an event and wine consultancy business. Her social media persona, “Swirl Girl Denver,” became a brand unto itself, through which Anderson spread the gospel of food-and-wine pairings and clever hashtags like #21stcenturyhedonist and #champagnecampaign. She also penned a column for Denver’s alternative rag, Westword.
That apparently wasn’t enough for this powerhouse, so, in 2017, Anderson opened Bar Helix. The menu at Bar Helix blends high- and low-brow influences, like the caviar service, which includes Calvisius black reserve caviar, Pringles, tater tots, and lemony crème fraiche. The wine list draws on Anderson’s favorites, especially Champagne, as does the cocktail menu, which features an array of Negronis (her other obsession) with snarky names like The #badbitch Cosmo.
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Here, Anderson recalls the exact moment she decided to become a sommelier, and how she plans to drink Champagne right up until the end.
1. What’s the bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
People ask me this question a lot. and I’m sad to admit that I don’t remember the name of the producer, but I do remember the occasion that made me fall in love with wine.
I was in culinary school, where the curriculum incorporated both food and wine education. We were studying Germany, and class that day included cooking a very traditional German dish — choucroute — and tasting alongside it a slightly off-dry Riesling from Mosel. Experiencing that magical pairing was the day the lightbulb went off for me — and also the day I decided to become a sommelier.
2. FMK three varieties: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay?
Cabernet, kill. Pinot Noir, marry. Chardonnay, f*ck.
3. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper wine?
Without a doubt, Champagne.
4. You can only drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
See my answer above (Champagne).
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
Pegu Club, NYC.
6. What’s the best and worst wine on your rack (or in your fridge) right now?
Ha! I‘m rarely at home, and so my wine collection is pretty grim. The best bottle I’ve got here is a Domaine Chave Hermitage. The worst? A terrible bottle of California Moscato that was gifted to me — and I haven’t gotten around to pouring down the drain yet.
7. If you could no longer drink wine, what would be your beverage of choice?
A Negroni, obviously!