Category Archives: Cocktails

Culinary Cruisin’ in Downtown Golden

Three chefs raising the bar in Western-accented Front
Range town.

Dining-clipartGolden, cozying up to the foothills west of Denver, is known as a charming town that plays up its Western roots, has a robust downtown and features the world’s largest brewery (that would be Coors). It is also boasting an increasingly diverse and tasty food scene. Visit Golden organized a small, intimate itinerary to a trio of interesting downtown restaurants (well, two downtown and one not far away).

Abejas

001Abejas is Spanish for “bees,” but this new restaurant has nothing to do with a honey-centric menu. The partners — Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh — met at the Hill Top Restaurant and went their separate ways when it closed. They rekindled their longtime dream of opening their own place,  whose name subtly references the first letters of the partners’ first names.

Located in a once-upon-a-time-Piggly-Wiggly a few steps off Golden’s main drag,  Shike Design, whose Denver previous restaurant projects include Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Cuba Cuba, Epernay and Root Down, designed the interior. The rustic and responsibly sourced interior features reclaimed barn wood, corrugated metal and old doors from a ranch in Golden that was being sold. The sprightly, modern and creative menu likewise aspires to source as much of the menu locally as possible.

In addition to reclaimed materials, Abejas features a simple room divider or snake plants and red tops threaded on frame.
In addition to reclaimed materials, Abejas features a simple room divider of snake plants and red ropes threaded between the ceiling and a beam.

With Dobesh occupied these days at Brexi and Steakhouse 316 in Aspen, he brought in Nick Ames to helm the Abejas kitchen. The California Culinary Academy grad’s C.V.  includes Duo, an early culinary hotspot in Denver’s Highlands ‘hood.

A lovely and delicious light salt cod fritter, purple sweet potato, celery root, quail egg, borage flower and minced olive.
A lovely and delicious light salt cod fritter, purple sweet potato, celery root, quail egg, borage flower and minced olive.
A wintry combination of baked pork belly pancetta, pumpkin purée, pumpkin crumble and bok choy.
A wintry combination of thickly sliced pork belly pancetta, pumpkin purée, pumpkin crumble and bok choy.

807 13th Street, Golden, 303-952-9745.

Abejas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Continue reading Culinary Cruisin’ in Downtown Golden

Squeaky Bean’s Bowie Cocktails

Lift a glass of a special drink to honor David Bowie.

SqueakyBean-logoDavid Bowie’s recent death at the age of 69, just after releasing his final album on last Friday, which was also his birthday, shocked and saddened his legions of fans. To commemorate the loss of this unforgettable icon, The Squeaky Bean created not just one, but for the first time, an entire menu of cocktails — pretty appropriate for a rocker who lived large.

The Squeaky Bean launches its Bowie tribute and shrine by introducing the David Bowie cocktail list on January 19, when it is offered special. The Bean will also play David Bowie’s music from 4 p.m. t o close. Guests are invited to dress “in David Bowie fashion,” which can mean that anything outrageous goes. The special cocktail list will be available from at least until the end of January.

The Squeaky Bean's David Bowie shrine with one of the cocktails created in his honor.
The Squeaky Bean’s David Bowie shrine with one of the cocktails created in his honor.
  • The Bowie Shrine Drink: Ziggy Stardust: Mescal, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, dehydrated Campari “Stardust”
  • Heroes: Woody Creek vodka, blood orange, honey, pear eau de vie, Moscato
  • Young Americans: Squeaky Bean Barrel Elmer T Lee bourbon, Amontillado sherry, orange olio sacchrum, bitters
  • Life on Mars?: Reposado tequila, Nardini Amaro, orgeat, lime
  • Space Oddity: Pisco, Meyer lemon, mandorla, egg white
  • Let’s Dance: Lillet Blanc, lemon oil, house apple liquor
  • Golden Years: Reagan Orange Bitters, Ron Zacapa Rum, Pommadine, lemon

Bowie isn’t the first star to be honored with a Shrine Cocktail. The current one is Meadowlark Limoncello in commemoration of the late Harlem Globetrotters star. And there will be a Shrine Cocktail during Denver Restaurant Week (February 26to March 6) commemorating the passing of Penny Parker, Denver’s beloved woman about town gathering news for her columns in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

National Tequila Day with Don Julio

Nutmeg adds an extra zip to a margarita.

DonJulioTequilaThis evening, we broke out the Don Julio Añejo 70, a fine reposado that we save for such special occasions as National Tequila Day, which happens to be today. To sip a nip or mix it? That was the question, and the answer was, as if often is, a margarita. But such an important holiday merits an important marg.

We checked online, and the Don Julio site provided a recipe. Though other possibilities were also enticing, we happened to have agave nectar, lime and nutmeg  on hand, so Don Julio’s Reposado Margarita it was. It turned out to be very interesting and confirmed that nutmeg is good for more than eggnog and cappuccino:

Reposado Margarita

1 .5 oz. Tequila Don Julio Reposado
0.75 oz. agave nectar
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
fresh nutmeg

Mix Tequila Don Julio Reposado, agave nectar and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and add a pinch of nutmeg over the top.

Gracias, Don Julio.

Modis Remains One of Breck’s Best

Happy hour at this Main Street restaurant more than satisfies.

Modis-signModis-signModis-sign025Since it opened, Modis in Breckenridge has been place that  serves several functions: local hangout with a great bar with two daily happy hours, a smoker in place for house-smoked specialties, fine-dining restaurant upstairs and in the warm months, a dynamite deck for eating, imbibing and hanging out. I hadn’t been there for several years — not since Justin and Teryn Guadagnoli bought it in the fall of 2013.

The bar is better than ever, with a robust wine list, a big selection of craft beers, innovative cocktails and a continuation of the vibrant menu selections for which it was always known. Four of us were strolling Main Street when the “happy hour” sign caught my eye. We went in for drinks and ended up making dinner from the excellent happy hour food selection.

The soup of the day -- thick and filling -- though I didn't order it and can't recall the flavor.
The soup of the day — thick and filling — though I didn’t order it and can’t recall the flavor.
A mountain of linguine-thin shoestring potatoes with two dipping sauces.
A mountain of linguine-thin shoestring potatoes with two dipping sauces.
Beautiful mixed green  salad with a sensational black garlic vinaigrette.
Beautiful mixed green salad with a sensational black garlic vinaigrette.

Continue reading Modis Remains One of Breck’s Best

Top Taco’s Winning Tacos & Margs

New competition crowned champions in Mexican categories.

TopTaco-logoI had a prior commitment and unfortunately could not attend yesterday’s first-ever Top Taco competition in Denver, but Eater Denver (or is it Denver Eater? — I never know) was there and posted a report. Here’s the site’s list of winners:

Traditional Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Comida for its Stella pork carnita taco.
2 Pinche Tacos for its own version of the carnita taco.
3. Billy’s Inn for its fish taco.

Creative Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Machete for its cricket taco on a house made hibiscus tortilla.
2. Los Chingones for its mini lengua taco.
3. The Squeaky Bean for its steak and shrimp taco.

Traditional Tacos (people’s choice) 

1. Pinche Tacos
2. Billys Inn
3. Highland Tap

Creative Tacos (people’s choice)
1. Moontower
2. Comida
3. Zengo

Margarita (judges’ selections)
1. La Biblioteca
2. Comida
3. Adelitas

Margarita (people’s choice)

1. La Biblioteca
2. Machete
3. Adelitas

Presumably, a good time was had by all.

 

Margaritas at Colorado’s Rio Grande Restaurants

February 22 National Margarita Day, and the Rio’s are famous.

RioGrande-logoMy favorite mixed drink from the standard repertory is the margarita, either frozen or on the rocks. I order a marg every time I visit a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant. National Margarita Day, designated for February 22. It seems an arbitrary date, because the origins of the margarita are as fuzzy as the brain of anyone who has one too many. All that is known about the invention of the classic margarita was this it dates back to the 1930s or ’40s.  In the 1970s, an inventive bartender converted a soft serve ice cream unit into a frozen margarita machine.

The Rio Grande's pretty margarita is also pretty tasty and pretty strong.
The Rio Grande’s pretty margarita is also pretty tasty and pretty strong.

Every day is Margarita Day at the Rio Grande, Jose Cuervo’s largest on-premise account in the US. More than 300,000 margaritas are mixed annually at the Rio’s six locations every year (Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, Park Meadows, Greeley and Steamboat Springs), . They are so potent that the Rio awaited Skinny Margarita, the Coin Margarita and the Ricky, a frozen Rio Marg and Corinita—a mini Corona beer turned upside down in a margarita.

In honor of National Margarita Day, and the marg-fueled meals I’ve enjoyed at the Boulder Rio (in walking distance of my house, I hasten to add), here are some fun facts provided by the restaurant chain:

  • 3 hippos + 1 mouse = weight of limes used in 1 year (average mature male hippo weight = 7,000 pounds).
  • 3 goats = cost of 2-ounce shot of Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario Tequila (average goat cost – $85).
  • 6000+ = cases of Jose Cuervo gold used each year.
  • Longs Peak  (elevation 14,259 feet) = 1 month of marg glasses stacked.
  • More than 300,000 margaritas are mixed Rio-wide every year.
  • Value of tequila vault in Denver: $8,820+.
  • The Rio’s annual kosher salt use equals the salt content of 16,000 gallons of seawater.
  • The Rio chops enough limes each year to put five in each seat at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
  • 26,810 pounds of strawberries are used annually in Strawberry and Strawberry Lites.

Tasting Iceland’s Reyka Vodka in Denver

Made of Iceland spring water and made for great cocktails

ReykaVodka-logoI’m obsessively watching the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, so vodka is on my mind. I’m eagerly awaiting the schedule for the upcoming Society of American Travel Writers Convention in Reykjavik, so Iceland is on my mind. And I know that Tom Coohill, owner/chef of Cohills, a fine restaurant overlooking Cherry Creek on the fringes of LoDo, has been selected as one of the 13 international guest chefs to compete in Iceland’s Food and Fun Festival in Reykjavik from February 26 to March 2.  The Coohill-Iceland connection first surfaced with a special Taste of Iceland menu offered for just a few days in September 2012; click here for my post.

Little wonder, then, that I jumped at the chance to meet Daniel Brancusi, the brand ambassador of Iceland’s Reyka Vodka to the US. Reyka is an heir to the great tradition of distilled spirits from Scotland. William Grant & Sons, a giant in the world of Scotch, went on a mission to create a perfect vodka. They installed a rare CarterHead still in the village of Borgarnes, adding a botanical basket for the distinctive Icelandic herbs that imbue a unique flavor. In the geo-thermal-powered facility, Reyka’s master distiller Thordor Siggurdson hand-crafts the small-batch vodka filtered through ancient lava rocks and made from the purest Icelandic spring water. Click here for details on the process. Bottom line is that Reyka captures a clean taste with a crisp, smooth finish.

The Reyka Vodka still in a small town near Reykjavik, Iceland.
The Reyka Vodka still in a small town near Reykjavik, Iceland.

Coohills serves Reyka vodka, as do Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder and Acorn at The Source in Denver, where I tried a cocktails made with it. Bryan Dayton, the creative beverage director at both Oak and Acorn, devised those two Reyka-bearing cocktails.

Acorn's lusty, flavorful bloody Mary is made with Reyka Vodka,
Acorn’s lusty, flavorful bloody Mary is made with Reyka Vodka, “the real dill” bloody Mary mix and Demitri’s spice mix with Old Bay liberally coating the rim and a stalk of celery and a lemon wedge.
Crossing the Tracks is a more subtle, but no less flavorful cocktail. Reyka vodka, aperole, St. Germain. aloe, and grapefruit are served in a stemmed cocktail glass.
Crossing the Tracks is a more subtle, but no less flavorful cocktail. Reyka vodka, aperole, St. Germain. aloe, grapefruit juice and a floating lemon wedge are served in a stemmed cocktail glass.

With its small-batch artisanal commitment, I don’t imagine we’ll ever see see Reyka on every cocktail menu in town, but I’m guessing the Oak-Acorn and Coohills’ mixologists won’t be the only ones around using the clean, distinctive vodka.