Boulder County loves to sip a little something. These creative concoctions are exactly what you need for a splash of indulgence.
Drink name: Tip Toe Through the Tulips
Ingredients: Hendricks’ less well-known Midsummer Solstice Gin, Elderflower, Campari, grapefruit juice, and was garnished with some lovely botanicals.
Review: It’s an alliteratively named cocktail and drinking this drink, at this place, you’ll know that you’re drinking at a level worthy of your palate. The cocktail was a bit sweet for a barstool compatriot, but I found the grapefruit juice bitter enough to bring down the sweet and balance it overall. Lovely texture, excellent color, and great flavor make this drink highly recommended, especially on that glorious northwest facing patio of theirs.
Drink name: The Spritz 24
Ingredients: Becherovka, watermelon shrub, grapefruit, and sparkling wine.
Review: They said it’s a staff favorite. An unusual and magical concoction, the Spritz24 absolutely took me by surprise. As someone who hasn’t historically enjoyed grapefruit, this drink was the perfect balance of flavor and texture and internal movements. The herbal liqueur, a Czech Republic aperitif and local tradition, is usually consumed neat or mixed with tonic. This drink is an original brainchild of the geniuses at 24 Carrot in Erie.
Drink: Colorado Paper Plane
Or, the Vance Brandt Last Waltz (so named by Susie at Bin46)
Ingredients: Cocktailpunk (all Palisade fruit) smoked orange bitters, aperol, red vermouth, Last Waltz bourbon.
Review: The Colorado Paper Plane is one of the simplest drinks that we’ve had this year, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. Four ingredients. No garnish. Elegantly presented. As you sit there, sipping it in the gorgeous surroundings, you feel like your future partner is about to walk up and sit at the bar, then wink flirtatiously after noticing you’re drinking like a serious adult. It was a tad more bitter than I expected, but not bitter in a bad way. Clearly delicious. All local spirits. And a feeling of badassery will have you coming back for another round.
Drink: St. Elmo’s Fire
Ingredients: Longtucky Fire Spirit. Arancha campari style bitter. House made vermouth, brandy style. Smoked with whiskey barrel chips.
Review: The most shocking of concoctions, in my pallet’s opinion. Operating on a level antithetical to my historic opinion, the fire liquor, built on a combination of ginger and cinnamon, layering the ingredients, is surprisingly drinkable. Obnoxiously so. I had to leave the bar because I was afraid I would drink it all and not be able to make it anywhere else the rest of the evening. I highly recommend this incredible drink, at this unique location, where they focus more on the cultivation of spirit then on the adornment of a drink.
Drink: Coffee and Cigarettes
Ingredients: Redemption Rye. Campari. Coffee hooch (in house coffee liqueur). Singed cinnamon sticks. Ozo Coffee ground sprinkle.
Review: Not unlike the movie of the same name, this drink is an oddity, but one you can’t seem to get enough of. Awkwardly recalling my childhood, not as an alcoholic, but because of the coffee sprinkles on top of ice cream my mom would give me, the warmth of the C&C envelops your palate, the singe of the cinnamon wafting across senses, all of it combining to incredible effect to create a truly original and magical concoction. I’ve had this before, because I like the name and I’m a Rye guy;it’s definitely one of my favorite drinks in the state. Hands down.
Drink: Dry Land Oasis
Ingredients: Dry Land Cactus (a brand new liquor, literally), fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, jalapeno, and DB’s honey ginger syrup
Review: Surprisingly spicy, but delicious if you go for that sort of thing. This cocktail is a baby cocktail. No, not for your babies, but less than a year old. It was developed last Halloween as a part of Haunt Longmont. It’s green color was purposefully picked to be ghoulish and it was named the Goblin. It’s popularity – much like a geeky kid in high school who became way sexy later – led to its renaming and rebranding. Also, in what can only be described as epic goodness, Dry Land also has a program called Distilling Dames, where women interested in learning more about mixology, the distilling process, and other aspects of spirited beverages. Badass.
Drink name: Literally Literary
Ingredients: Rye, Fiorente, lime, agave nectar, The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters, and a splash of Gerstacker Cherry Gluhwein.
Review: The favorite drink of the summer, Literally Literary is scheduled to be discontinued soon but they’re considering keeping it because of its popularity. It’s surprisingly smooth with all ingredients balancing perfectly and that Gluhwein acting like a little cherry bomb drop at the base of the drink (see picture) hitting you in the last sip or two. The owner, Johnny, surprised that I was familiar with gluhwein, said that the reason it’s so popular is people drink it a little quicker than they probably should to get to that cherry splash. The evolution of this former tea house to a top 5 Yelp reviewed whiskey house in America means the drinks, and the 400-odd whiskeys on offer – are sure to satisfy.
Drink name: CBD Mango Spritzer
Ingredients: Vodka, mango puree, CBD extract
Review: Not sweet, not tart, the Reef operated somewhere on the orangesicle continuum. When you drink it, you get the hits of sweet mango and the vodka tinge, but it all works so well together that this drink becomes immediately dangerous. We’re almost glad we didn’t discover this earlier in the summer, as all we want now is a trough of this on our patio at home. Absolutely delicious, with a decidedly summer delivery, complete with lime, cherry, and cheery straw, making you feel cute and tipsy at the same time. Rush over and get one before this limited time offer expires.
Drink Name: Penicillin
Ingredients: Dewar’s blend scotch, house ginger cordial, fresh lemon juice, honey, Laphroaig 10yr float
Review: It’d be way too simple to dismiss a classic drink as not magical enough for this list, but here’s the thing: it’s magical to make old timey drinks as well as License #1 does. Even where speakeasy’s and whiskey joints across the county pull off generally good Manhattan’s and Old Fashioned’s, it’s less common to see this particular cocktail on offer. Making it special is both the house made ginger cordial and the Laphroaig float. We’re not a huge citrus fana so this did take a sip or two to acclimate but, by the time we were done, we were swigging with ease.
Drink: Peated Manhattan (by Bar Manager Britt Eisel)
Ingredients: Peated single malt, salted maple syrup, Cocktailpunk smoked orange bitters, orange peel.
Review: My face shook with rage, or maybe it was ecstasy, or confusion. One of these emotions, possibly all three, overtaking me as I realized I’ve never had a Manhattan as good as the Manhattan in my hand. Let me be clear that I love a good Manhattan. It’s the only drink that I keep all supplies for at home so I can make it myself. And here I was, thanks to Britt, re-evaluating my understanding of this cocktail. The in-house vermouth substitute and bitters, the understated presentation, including the orange peel instead of a cherry…life-changing. In the interest of full disclosure, I literally had to buy the smoked orange bitters to recreate this at home.
Drink: Blueberry Habanero Margarita
Ingredients: Sauza Blue (habanero and blueberry infused), Leopold Bros. American Orange liqueur, agave nectar, lime, orange juice.
Review: When I walked in, I didn’t see Frank, my usual bartender. I was sent me upstairs to Caitlin, who was nervous about my request and passed me to Ivan, a friend of the magazine and former bar genius at Empire. I didn’t expect to be given a habanero blueberry habanero Margarita as their cocktail of choice, but here I was drinking it, enjoying the fire, enjoying the blueberries, and wondering why I’ve never tried it before. Truth be told, I’m not really a margarita guy, but the interaction of hot and sweet, tempered with a salty rim, on that glorious patio of theirs… I’m calling it good.Nailed it. A truly wondrous iteration of the ever popular margarita.
Drink: The 12 @ Empire
Ingredients: Mescal, canton, grapefruit juice, basil simple, watermelon-campari ice, chili salted rim.
Review: This holdover from the new owners’ 12@Madison restaurant in Denver is one that has to be tried to be understood. The watermelon-campari ice, a glorious cube of ever dissipating melodic chill and flavor, constantly changing the imbibement, makes for an evolving, eclectic, and one of the most original cocktails we’ve ever had. We can’t say enough about this cocktail, except that it was one of few cocktails in this review we needed to finish.
Drink: On Point Sour
Ingredients: Amaretto liqueur, bourbon, egg white, organic lemon juice, simple, luxardo cherry.
Review: Every sour I’ve ever had has been more sour than I wanted, citrus forward. This sweet iteration was pleasantly surprising. Not unbearably sweet, but the Amaretto liqueur, luxardo syrup, and the egg white foam made for an incredibly luscious on point sour iteration. This is the only sour that I’ve come across that I would happily have again. Apart from the awkward barstool conversation and the surprising quietude inside the establishment, this is one place in Lafayette that you should pop into for original spirits and great bar service.
Drink: Smoked Old Fashioned
Ingredients: Smoke (from the staves that aged the whiskey), A.D. Laws Four Grain Bourbon, bitters, simple
Review: The glory, hallelujah in this cocktail is enough to make an atheist a believer. I should know, I’m an atheist. Burning wood (instead of a cop out smoke machine) to fill the glass that is then filled with the old fashioned (which they will only make with A.D. Laws), fills the cocktail with fragrance and flavor that stays with you long after the cocktail is done. I chased it with a Swizzler (recommended by a barstool friend), which was delicious, but not nearly enough to move my palate past the Smoked Old Fashioned. A truly gorgeous use of smoke and Colorado bourbon.