There's a changing of the cocktail guard at Craft Izakaya. Bradford Tolleson, who served as opening bar manager at Venkman's, is in as beverage director and restaurant manager, Craft chef and owner Jey Oh confirmed to Eater Atlanta on Monday. Tolleson replaces outgoing beverage director James Marques.
Tolleson's first day of action at Craft is Tuesday, when he'll begin to put his own influence on the cocktail menu. Richard Tang, former general manager for the restaurant, tells Eater the new beverage list will represent "what the city wants and what the city needs." While Tang is no longer connected to Craft in an official capacity, he says he still supports the team.
"We're really excited for what he can do with the program at Craft," Tang said in a phone conversation.
Before joining the Venkman's team as opening bar manager last August, Tolleson spent time with Restaurant Eugene, Pura Vida, and H. Harper Station. In a move that foreshadowed things to come, he offered an initial preview of the Venkman's beverage program at Craft. He's since worked with T. Fable Jeon at Himitsu in recent months.
Marques is leaving the Krog Street Market Japanese restaurant on friendly terms for the sunny Caribbean island of Saint Thomas, where he will serve as an assistant general manager at a Marriott hotel.
Update: Tolleson shared some details on what he has in store.
"Expect a new menu at Craft inspired by flora and fauna to debut in the coming weeks," Tolleson said in an email to Eater Atlanta. "I'm focusing on garnishes that promote complex nose and palates, which is what I want to be my signature. The spirits selection will be smaller and more curated, without ostracizing drinkers who prefer mass-market brands."
Peiter Guilbault, who worked under Tolleson at Restaurant Euguen and then Venkman's, is taking over as bar manager at the latter.