I like you, Lloyd…
Locals know the places; now it’s time to know the faces. Step behind the bar and meet a few of Steamboat’s favorite bartenders (and learn what to order next time you go).
MEET: Michael Cronin — Los Locos
Don’t call him Mike; call him Cronin—as in, ‘Hey, Cronin, how about another cocktail?’
Cronin has been with Los Locos since it opened in December 2016, as both head bartender and manager. Lest you think he doesn’t have shaker game, he got his bearings behind the bar first at Mad Mex in Pittsburgh, Pa., while in college (never mind that he’s an avid Flyers fan). When he moved to Steamboat, he continued slinging cocktails at Slopeside Grill and Schmiggity’s before landing at Los Locos.
What sets him apart? “I try to treat every customer —whether a local, new to town, a tourist, or a tourist who will never come to Steamboat again — like they belong,” he says.
Treating each customer with a welcoming “Hello,” he also has a knack for remembering names — a trait that makes every customer feel at home. “When you create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable bringing their friends and family, it manifests an environment where people can let loose and laugh a little bit,” he says.
When he starts to get “in the weeds” (busier than busy) with a bar full of thirsty customers, he’s the epitome of calm. “It’s important to keep your eyes up and aware and not get too involved in a conversation where you aren’t getting around to everyone,” he says, equating it to keeping your head up playing his beloved hockey. “It takes something to have fun and stay calm while it’s crazy busy, but it’s also important to make connections and treat everyone with the same respect that you would your best customer.”
A good memory is key also. Cronin often remembers faces, names and drinks — knowing, salt or no salt, without even asking.
And at a place like Los Locos, his specialty is margaritas.
“I think I’m effective at being able to figure what people want in a margarita,” he says. “Everyone likes them differently, so the ability to listen and put together something they enjoy is special.”
Tequila, he says, is obviously the key ingredient, but so is the perfect ratio of salty and sweet.
“Maybe I have a bit of a heavy hand when it comes to my pours, but it’s a core belief of mine,” he says. “It’s also important to not have anything be too sweet or sour, which is why we don’t use any Sweet and Sour. It takes just the right amount of fresh lime and simple syrup to make it smooth.”
And if a customer doesn’t like it? “Bring it back and I’ll make you something you’ll like,” Cronin says. “Don’t suffer in silence. Let me try something different and make you happy. As long as you can explain what you like or don’t like — I haven’t met someone I haven’t been able to make a great cocktail for.”
Los Locos’ 3 Most Popular Margs
El Jefe Margarita — “Packs a punch with Herradura Silver and Grand Marnier and then a small splash of fresh squeezed citrus juices. Not overly sweet, due to the natural sugars from the freshly squeezed juices (done every morning). Served in a 12-oz. glass. After a couple of those you’ll be feeling good.”
Strawberry Basil Margarita — “Infused in-house for a week at a time, it’s on the sweeter side. It literally tastes like candy and is a perfect way to refresh on a hot day on the patio.”
Blackberry Habanero Margarita — “Also infused in-house, we created this because we saw a bunch of customers pouring our BB Hab salsa into the House Marg and stirring it themselves. It comes with an awesome sweet/spicy contrast that we strive for on a lot of our tacos and cocktails.”
Shaken, Not Stirred
Meet Eric Delaney — Ore House at Pine Grove
Skier by day, bartender and musician by night, longtime local Eric Delaney knows what it takes to make it in a ski town.
“Being behind the bar is a lot like being on stage,” Delaney says. “You’re constantly putting on a show. I feel like it’s where I belong.”
The Ore House at Pine Grove is an historic piece of Steamboat, housed in a barn that was a part of a 280-acre ranch homesteaded in 1889 by James Lewis. Delaney is going into his seventh season there, where you can find him crafting such cocktails as a classic old fashioned or something sweeter, such as his favorite lemon drop martini.
Ore House has about 50 employees at full capacity and the ability to serve 550 dinners on a busy night, so Delaney is pretty diligent when it comes to serving up drinks. Former owner Jeff Little, and business partners Diane and Dan Emert, hired Delaney into the legendary Ore House family, where his late-brother Chris worked before he passed away in the mid-90s. Even today, his brother’s plaque still hangs on the wall near the downstairs bar.
“Even without my brother helping me get the job, I still would’ve applied there the day I walked into town,” he says. “It’s such a great place — I feel incredibly privileged to be part of it. Bartending in a ski town is such a tight-knit community; we’re like family.”
Vittles: Steak Ore House; Blackened Trout with the Ore House Topping; Ore House Ribs (“They’re those perfect, fall-off-the-bone, nice and messy, tender ribs.”)
Cocktails: Classic old fashioned or lemon drop martini.
Rockin’ local stages and outdoor venues, Delaney is often referred to by his stage name, Me & Ed’s Music Machine or Delaney and Friends. As adept at making music as he is Manhattans, he’s built a following of local fans wherever he goes—which started when he and brother Kier Delaney opened local sushi joint Sake2U and later Sake2Me downtown.
Whether it’s entertainment, stories or a great cocktail, Delaney knows what it takes to be a great bartender. “Listening and patience,” he says. “Having an understanding for what people want and having a quick wit. I might not remember your name, but I’ll remember what you drink.”