We spent twenty years covering all the things that make a community tick, that make a community cry, that make a community grow, and we think we deserve a drink. Good news is you do, too!
Lucky for us, we not only know communities, we know community libations. Boulder County is a premier drinking region and we’re glad to be able to get out to sample, sip, swish, and swallow glasses of goodness from our local genius concoction community. Are you ready for a badass list of badass drinks? Below are twenty of the tastiest drinks from BOCO’s top mixologists, distillers, brewers, baristas, meaderies, and cider makers in the area.
Night Warden | Avery Brewing
As 2020 drags on and the months move closer to winter, you’re going to want darker beers (and also whiskey, but darker beers). This beer fits the bill. Strong notes of vanilla and caramel from fresh whiskey barrels complement a roasted malt bill, making it a smooth and full-bodied stout.
Crescendo 2017 | Bookcliff Vineyard
This bold blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Suasao grapes lead to just one place – a boldly balanced, medium-full bodied wine. Once you have it in your glass, you’ll experience aromas and flavors of ripe fruit, cigar box, and chocolate with flirty acids, a velvety mouthfeel, and a lingering finish.
Oktoberfest | Gravity Brewing
Oktoberfest beers are a fall highlight, and Louisville’s Gravity Brewing has a good one. A rich color with a ton of malt and a touch of hops, it is the right way to say “Prost” to the season. Enjoy it with friends at a gathering, with a meal, or at the end of a cool weather hike.
Once cold weather strikes, you can find a little bit of summer if you go to Birdhouse. Crafted cocktails have helped to grow the popularity of this tiki-themed restaurant and the Toco Toucan is a favorite. It boasts lots of alcohol: Family Jones Gin, Grove Street orange liqueur, key lime juice, and house made cane syrup. Once mixed, the drink is served in distinctive glassware that adds to the fun.
Boulder Spirits by Vapor Distillery
One of the most popular cocktails in the Boulder Spirits by Vapor distillery tasting room is their classic Old Fashioned. This will be a great choice once bitter winter weather sets in, and it is also ideal for holiday celebrations or drinks meetings. Make this at home with fairly standard ingredients – it’s the quality of the locally distilled bourbon that makes it stand out.
(featuring cactus spirits)
Dry Land Distillers
We all know that amazing things come out of the desert. This cocktail is one of them. This Colorado cocktail is made with smoke-forward cactus spirits that were distilled in our state and awarded the bronze medal at the London International Spirits Competition. To make it, Dry Land blends the spirits with fresh lime and orange juice and simple syrup.
Industrial Revolution Brewing
Until recently, when drinkers ordered a stout they expected a rich, dark, malty beer. Then brewers experimented with the style and created blonde stouts. Typically made with a lighter beer base and coffee to darken the color, the new beer upended everyone’s expectations. Industrial Revolution made one of the earlier versions and it’s become a great representative of the standard.
New Belgium Brewing
IPA’s are one of the hottest and most innovative categories in craft beer. Sour IPAs continue this trend and New Belgium’s version is a standout. It’s a Citra and Amarillo hopped IPA that’s blended with the brewery’s wood aged golden sour. The wood takes the fruity and juicy qualities of the brew to the next level.
When locals and out of town visitors find themselves at the Niwot Tavern, more often than not they find themselves ordering a rusty peach. It’s both classic and different. Bartenders muddle a peach slice with brown sugar, add 2 oz of Leopold Bros peach whiskey with ice, and top it with ginger beer.
Signature French 75
This drink is said to have been created by legendary bartender Harry Mac Elhone at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, then further developed in the 1920s. It’s evolved somewhat since then, and this classic one is made with Tanqueray Gin, lemon juice and sparkling wine. It is perfect for celebrations, date night, or just starting off a nice dinner.
For some people, the blend of kombucha and craft beer is unexpected. Two of Twisted Pine’s offerings are craft beer cocktails standouts. The OG is a classic blend of the brewery’s Trail Blazer’s Blonde Ale with Upstart’s berry black kombucha. Alternately, there’s Rosy Rice, a blend of the brewery’s Rice and Shine rice lager with Upstart’s rose bud kombucha.
The Kitchen/Upstairs Cocktail Lounge
This is the drink for people who never want summer to end, or who never get tired of finding ways to satisfy their ice cream fix. It’s a mix of Kahlua, amaretto, vanilla ice cream, and coffee whipped cream. The combination makes for a decadent treat or a rich end to a meal.
Trident Booksellers and Café
A lot of people have enjoyed Matcha, the green tea that’s stone ground into a fine powder. But how many people have enjoyed it whisked to frothy perfection and then slow poured over chilled lemonade? That’s the beauty of this drink. It is different, rich, and delicious. It’s made with tea that’s imported directly with Japan and can impress even choosy Matcha fans.
Designed as a fun riff on an Old Fashioned, this is one of the most experimental cocktails on our list. Peach black tea syrup and Angostura bitters are combined with bacon fat washed bourbon which has a subtle flavor and velvety texture. Peach tea balances the bourbon’s dryness, the fat of the bacon and the stringency of the bitter.
Ska Street Mule
Ska Street Brewstillery
(Ska Brewing and Peach Street Distillery)
Ska Street Brewstillery offers three versions of a classic Mule, made with the peach, pear or apricot brandy. The apricot and pear versions are mixed with lemon juice and ginger beer. The peach version swaps the juice for a classic Italian limoncello. All of them are delicious.
Apple Pie Cider
The Old Mine
Cider is the perfect way to bring some alcohol-fueled warmth to crisp fall days and evenings. This variant is especially seasonal. It’s made with the same spices that the owner of the Old Mine’s grandmother used in her apple pie filling. The result brings you the taste of harvest apples seamlessly blended with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
100% Blue Agave Rocks
Margarita fans want to head to a place that knows the nuances of the beverage because they make them all. the. time. People that drink margaritas know margargitas. No names – SHAVONNE – but some of us make a mean one at home and we’ll walk out of a place not absolutely killing it. Jefe’s Rocks Marg fits the bill all. the. time. It’s a straightforward, no fuss, “this is how this is supposed to taste” example featuring 100% blue agave tequila and fresh lime juice. That’s it. That’s what works. You’re welcome. And if you get it with the jalapeno you’re on our “oh woww” list.
Black Raspberry Nectar
If you think you know what mead tastes like and you want to stretch your palate, give this drink a try. Its unusually refreshing mead is carbonated, light, and crisp. It’s also pretty versatile. Blend it with a wheat beer, stout, or sour. Or turn it into a “Meadmosa” for a perfect brunch cocktail.
West End Tavern
The Sazerac is a classic cocktail created in New Orleans, and this Colorado version is one you should try. It’s close to the Old Fashioned but uses rye whiskey instead of bourbon and Peychaud’s bitters instead of Angostura. Then, West End adds Leopold Brothers absinthe verte to give it delicious licorice notes.
Spiked Snowmelt Juniper and
Lime Craft Seltzer
In 2020 no drinks list would be complete without including hard seltzer. Upslope’s Spiked Snowmelt makes some of the most loved variants out there. There’s a range of flavors to choose from, but our favorite is probably the juniper and lime kind. It’s a flavor combination that you just don’t get all that often – and it works.