Three chefs raising the bar in Western-accented Front Range town.
Golden, 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 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.
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.
Lift a glass of a special drink to honor David Bowie.
David 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.
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.
This 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:
1 .5 oz. Tequila Don Julio Reposado
0.75 oz. agave nectar
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
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.
Happy hour at this Main Street restaurant more than satisfies.
Since 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.
New competition crowned champions in Mexican categories.
I 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.
February 22 National Margarita Day, and the Rio’s are famous.
My 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.
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).
Made of Iceland spring water and made for great cocktails
I’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.
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.
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.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.