Category Archives: Cocktails

A New Spin on New Mexican Ingredients

Hotel Andaluz chef cooks out of the culinary box.

As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.

Some of the dishes:

Pineapple, watermelon and grape salad with Marcona almond crumble and pimenton. oil.
“Peas & Carrots,” a whimsical name for toasted corn and white Balsamic/sambal chile dressing.
New York strip steak (two levels of doneness) with jalapeno butter. Thick slices of toasted sourdough were in a separate dish. Since it is New Mexico-raised cattle, perhaps it should be called New Mexico strip steak.
Hatch Green Chile Hummus on Broken Lavash with cilantro oil and red pepper gel.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onion ragout and Cascabel chile Romesco sauce.
For sheer creativity, my ad hoc award goes to the Pinon Brittle, a clear sugary rectangles topped with oreango gremolata and lemongrass yogurt.

I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction  and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.

Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe,  which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.

Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.

It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks  (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.

LOW Now in LoHi

Steamboat Springs restaurant’s new location in hot Denver ‘hood.

Two and a half years ago, I learned to appreciate Southern cooking at the original LOW Country Kitchen in Steamboat Springs. Click here for my epiphany. Now Brian and Katy Vaughn have brought LOW to Denver, specifically to LoHi. I love the synergy between these names.

The bar and some tables are located at street level, with the rest of the dining room behind, a few steps higher and separated by a high room-dividing wall. Gray and white are the dominant hues. The food, served family-style to our group of invited media, echoes the fare in Steamboat Springs.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Mash, a welcoming cocktail of Four Roses bourbon, charred strawberry and rhubarb shrub, lemon slide and Amaro Sfumato. I had to look up “shrub” as it pertained to a cocktail ingredient. Turns out that it dates back to Colonial times and refers to a pre-refrigeration way of preserving fragile fruits by make a syrup of them.

Continue reading LOW Now in LoHi

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.