When the Zach Theatre re-launched last September after a significant makeover, the management added a much-needed feature to the space — a full bar program.

Prior to the redesign, the theater only offered beer and wine, served by volunteers. Now, before shows, during intermission, and after shows, patrons can order a carefully crafted cocktail, mixed drink, wine or beer. The bar opens, conveniently, 90 minutes before each play, and the general public are welcomed to come in and buy a drink or two any time the bar is open, even if they don’t have tickets for the evening’s entertainment.

Under the eagle eye of Food and Beverage Manager Rick Ryan, the bar rotates a new cocktail menu for every play. So for example, during “Mad Beat Hip and Gone,” which runs through this weekend, customers can choose from a list of beat poet-inspired drinks like the Cassady Cooler and the Kerouac Mule, to accompany the late 40’s era play.

I first met Ryan during a recent Angel’s Envy cocktail competition, where he composed a stirred bourbon drink that featured a float of silky hazelnut oil. I was impressed with his tidy technique and quirky personality, so I knew it would be a good idea to stop by to check out what he’s done with the program at Zach.

The main bar, adjacent to the lobby, typically offers a small handful of house cocktails imagined by Ryan, that will appeal to a range of drinkers. Like the Cassady Cooler, one of the best-sellers on the current menu, which is a cool whiskey sour-like beverage with a refreshing fill of ginger beer and splash of tart blood orange juice. The Sierra Skyline Lounge bar upstairs, which is for donors only (and has a fantastic view of downtown), also offers a few specialty cocktails during each show. I tried the Black Valentino, a delectable twist on the classic Rob Roy cocktail, which was velvety and rich.

It’s great to see the craft cocktail movement leak into venues beyond the local cocktail bar. Being able to order a well-balanced, thoughtful drink (that’s a step above your average Cosmo or Appletini) enhances the theater-going experience, and with a new cocktail menu tailored for every show, it’s an easy way to get in the right spirit for each story.

”Mad Beat Hip and Gone” will be playing through the weekend, so if you want to try any of these tasty concoctions, now’s the time to buy tickets. After this, the next play, Harvey, opens on May 23rd, with a brand new selection of drinks concocted by Ryan.

Black Valentino

3.5 oz. of Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch

.5 oz. of Sweet Vermouth

.5 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Cassady Cooler

2 oz. Bulleit Rye

.5 oz. lemon juice

Splash of blood orange juice

Fill with ginger beer