On a triple digit, bluebird sky day, a local craft beer might not be quite the jolt you are looking for. In that case, you need a concoction of harder stuff. Boulder is increasingly home to some top shelf distilleries and while many restaurants boast their ties to locally sourced foods, their attention to proximal spirits is distressingly lacking.
With that said, anyone can put together a basic rum and tonic or mojito, but if you’re looking for some uniquely delicious thirst quenchers that pack a punch, we have just the lineup.
No.1: West End Tavern
If you’re up for a view with your cocktail, one of Boulder’s best is atop The West End Tavern (9th and Pearl streets). The iconic Boulder burger joint has a nearly complete complement of locally distilled spirits behind the bar. Over the years it’s had some of its sweeping views trimmed by people with money (who never seem to be home to enjoy what they’ve paid for), but it’s still good enough to provide tasty eye candy while your mouth goes “mmmm” sipping on a cocktail.
Pimm’s Cup is a smooth, refreshing mix that starts with a muddled fresh cucumber, mint, Pimm’s #1 (a gin based liquor with a relatively mild 25 percent ABV), lemonade, splash of ginger ale to finish and a mint sprig and orange slice for garnish served on the rocks. The result is an easy-drinking cocktail that isn’t too high in alcohol, making this truly sessionable.
No.2: Absinthe House
Down the street, the Absinthe House (at 1106 Walnut St.) has recently changed management and is worth a visit. Right next door to the Rio, the two rooftop bars duke it out between their competing views. But Absinthe House will be featuring live music during the summer and, in addition to one of the most extensive selections of real deal Absinthe in the state, it’s got some righteous cocktails up its sleeve.
The Coleman (named for the bartender who created it) is a quaffable concoction of lemon infused vodka, pineapple, lemonade and hibiscus vodka served on the rocks with a lemon rind garnish. This tart, refreshing drink balances the berry-like tartness of the hibiscus and lemon with the sweet pineapple making for a flavorful cocktail with a punch.
No. 3: Comida
If you’re looking for something chill to put the finishing touches on a Monday evening of food truck gluttony, grab a table at Comida (the restaurant in Longmont’s Prospect neighborhood, not the bright pink food truck) and soak in the delicious cocktails, sangria and live music at the weekly Prospect Eats.
And there’s no better beverage for cooling down a summer evening than a Point Break. Starting with a foundation of Hussong’s reposado, add some Aperol (an Italian aperitif with bitter orange, rhubarb and cinchona), orange and grapefruit and shake with ice. This is just smooth enough to balance the heat of the resposado and to ensure it keeps its chill, ask for it on the rocks instead of neat.
No. 4: Oak at Fourteenth
If you prefer your Boulder views to be a bit more pedestrian literally the street view from the outdoor tables at Oak at Fourteenth (14th and Pearl streets) can’t be beat. The top shelf food here has been a favorite of Boulder power brokers for years, and it’s unique cocktails created and assembled by pro mixologists are refined and complex.
If Hunter Thompson drank bourbon, he’d be an ardent fan of the Oak Julep. Select a local bourbon (you can’t go wrong with the multi-gold medal winning Breckenridge Bourbon) and add some Peche de Vigne, homemade Oak Bitters and mint over crushed ice, serve in a stainless steel cup and you’ve got an instant cure to a three digit summer day. Wrapped with a napkin coozy to prevent frostbitten digits, this smooth, complex, cryogenic concoction is a guaranteed brain freeze that you can sip on for hours.