Category Archives: spirits

1515 Restaurant’s Swank Bar

New menu, new cocktails & new style at Rewind.

0011515 Restaurant has been a downtown Denver staple for nearly two decades. The street-level bar is known as a congenial place for a drink and bite, while the second-floor restaurant is a fine-dining tradition under the careful operation of owner Gene Tang.  Because it’s been around for so long, 1515 never makes it onto any hot lists anymore, but it has a long history of good food, hospitality and service.

Gene Tang, long-time owner of 1515 Restaurant.
Gene Tang, long-time owner of 1515 Restaurant.

With a makeover, a new menu including molecular gastronomy tricks and a new name, Rewind) has become a very cool place. Gene’s wife Paula redesigned the space, using reclaimed wood, cool lighting and seating (and standing) choices. Rena Day, a well-known and well-liked bartender at Zengo, now Rewind’s bar manager, oversees a program of new cocktails and a fab selection of craft beer. Did I mention the award-winning wine list?

It is possible to get food from the main restaurant menu, but the new pub’s intriguing bar menu is part of the experience. Bottom line: you can order new, traditional or a combo at Rewind.

Rena Day, mixing away.
Rena Day, mixing away.
Back to the glam forties cocktail culture.
Back to the glam forties cocktail culture.
The Chinese-inspired steamed bun category of food is represented with these plump pork-filled beauties.
The Chinese-inspired steamed bun category of food is represented with these plump pork-filled beauties.
A line of vrisp-vegetarian spring rolls with ginger-soy dipping sauce.
A line of crisp-vegetarian spring rolls with ginger-soy dipping sauce.
A tray of fresh Dover sole en papillotte draws on 1515'classic European heritage.
A tray of fresh Dover sole en papillote draws on 1515’s classic European favorites.
Cutting into the parchment package in which the sole was steamed.
Cutting into the parchment package in which the sole was steamed.
Modern molecular magic as a mozzarella ball is inflated.
Modern molecular magic as a mozzarella ball is inflated.
An ecelctic plate of an oyster Rcokefeller on a nest of greens and mozzarella ball with Balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, plus a little Caprese tower.
An eclectic plate of an oyster Rockefeller on a nest of greens, a mozzarella ball with Balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, and a classic Caprese salad combination .
Ultra-thin slices of Coloado Wagyu beef seared on a hot stone.
Ultra-thin slices of Colorado Wagyu beef seared on a hot stone.

Price check: Rewind’s small-plate prices are $5-$8. 1515 Restaurant’s appetizers are $15-$22.

Rewind and its progenitor, 1515 Restaurant, are at  1515 Market Street, Denver; 303-571-0011.

1515 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tincup Whiskey is Rooted in Colorado

Old Fashioned is Tincup’s signature drink.

TincupWhiskey-capIf I hadn’t been invited to view Denver’s Parade of Lights from the conjoined hotels, the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, I probably wouldn’t know about Tincup American Whiskey. But not only was a bartender mixing awesome Old Fashioneds with it, but each media guest received a bottle of it to take home.

The Tincup website is awash with mountain images and tales, starting with Jess Graber’s infatuation with making booze when he moved to Nederland and inherited a friend’s still. Fast-forward through the decades and various jobs from rodeo rider to master builder of posh Aspen area homes. Graber founded Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. The Aspen Times feature from nearly a decade ago is worth reading.  And the classic cocktail made from Graber’s newer, more rye-forward whiskey is worth trying. And if you go to the 2016 National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, expect to find it there.

Tincup Old Fashioned

1 1/2 ounces Tincup American Whiskey
4 ounces club soda
1 orange wedge
1 maraschino cherries
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 shakes of bitters

Muddle orange, cherries, sugar and bitters together. Add whiskey. Pour club soda on top. Serve on the rocks.

Nelson’s GreenBrier is New-Old Nashville Distillery

Fifth-generation bothers revive family craft on cool new setting.

GreenriarDisteillery-logoI’m not much of a whiskey drinker myself, but I’m all about history. I am fascinated by the story of Nelson’s GreenBrier Distillery, which just opened 105 years after state Prohibition forced the closure of their great-great-great grandfather’s original distillery. (Tennessee banned booze before the temperance crowd got its way and inflicted Prohibition on the entire country.)

Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson, descendants of Charles Nelson, who started making bourbon in the late 1800s, are behind the new venture. The new site where the old brand is produced is the lively Marathon Village, an historic automobile factory in Nashville that now houses many of the city’s creative enterprises. Marathon Village seems to be Nashville’s equivalent of The Source in Denver.

Andy and Charlie Nelson, who have resurrected the family's GreenBrier bourbon.
Andy and Charlie Nelson, who have resurrected the family’s GreenBrier bourbon.

The Nelson brothers are known locally for their award-winning Belle Meade Bourbon. Their distillery within the lofty industrial building anchoring one end of Marathon Village features barrel staves in a wicker-woven style pattern covering the interior wall to capture the purposeful essence of the space. In the handsome oak-paneled tasting room is an ample bar serving half-ounce samples of the spirits produced on the premises.  A long, live-edge walnut counter offers a view into the heart of the distillery: gleaming stainless steel vats, grain bins, miles of pipe, and the centerpiece, a custom crafted copper pot-bellied still affectionately called “Miss Louisa” after Charles’s wife who ran the business after his death. Continue reading Nelson’s GreenBrier is New-Old Nashville Distillery

Vail Mixologist’s Holiday Martini

Bombay Sapphire selects winners by nation’s best mixologists.

BolMartiniBombay Sapphire has assembled holiday martini cocktail recipes from some of the nation’s top bartenders. Here’s a brilliant Yuletide Martini from Vail’s Tacy Rowland of bōl Restaurant (and bowling alley) who was tagged by the ginnery as the most imaginative mixologist. Rowland is also literary, adding,

“The Martini was called ‘the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet’ by H.L. Menken. and, although the classic recipe involves only gin and vermouth, in the American spirit of invention, the cocktail can be experimented with to no end. In light of the holidays, The Yuletide Martini takes inspiration from some of the brighter flavors of the holidays, and incorporates cranberry, orange and spices to evoke the feeling of holiday spirit. E.B. White called the martini the ‘elixir of quietude,’ and this martini is meant to be just that: a quiet moment to be found in the hectic rush of the holiday season. Cheers.”

Yuletide Martini

2 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
¼ ounce dry Curaçao
¼ ounce cinnamon syrup
1 dash five spice bitters (Bar Keep)

— created by Tacy  Rowland Bombay Sapphire “Denver’s” Most Imaginative Bartender Winner [who is actually in Vail 100 miles from Denver]

Food & Wine Festival This Week

DenverFoodAndWine-logoThe 10th Annual Denver Food and Wine Festival from September 3 to 6 is four indulgent days of wines, spirits and delectable cuisine. The various events culminate in the DFW Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 6 from 1  to 4 p.m., the rare daytime grand tasting. It  features samplings of more than 600 featured wines and signature spirits, cuisine from  fine restaurants in Denver and beyond, a silent auction and a Viking Culinary Chef showcase.

The event takes at the Auraria Campus of Metropolitan State University in Denver. The goal of this event is to help raise funds for the Denver Post Community Foundation, Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Metro State University of Denver, whose culinary and hospitality program is gaining renown. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $95 ($125 for special early entry beginning at 12 noon).

Sky-High Spirits at Beaver Creek Event This Weekend

Premium wines & spirits featured at pre-eminent mountain resort.

BeaverCreekFWine-logoThe eighth annual Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival this weekend offers opportunities to learn about and taste premium spirits and wines, and food to match presented by local chefs. The event kicks off with Manhattans in the Mountains on Friday, August 8, sponsored by Maker’s Mark, where the focus will be on four handmade premium Kentucky Bourbon Whiskeys. Later Also that evening, a spectacular four-course dinner paired with exceptional wines at Splendido at the Chateau benefits the Vail Valley’s Bright future Foundation.

Outdoor and indoor events highlight this weekend's Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival.
Outdoor and indoor events highlight this weekend’s Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival.

On Saturday, August 9, the new Tacos & Tequila event elevates down-to-earth street taco to dishes inspired by Beaver Creek’s rarefied elevation and high culinary standards, along with Herradura Tequila and cocktails. Two other new events in the village, the Premium Port and Cheese Pairing, and Hooked on Sushi & Sake, showcasing tips and techniques for the chef’s dishes paired with the perfect sake. As always with such events, the Walk-Around Grand Tasting on Saturday evening is a highlight, with samplings of wines, spirits and gourmet cuisine in a delightful mountain setting.

Sunday, August 10 features the Four X Fun High Mountain Adventure Tour. Attendees take a scenic chairlift ride followed by an open-air canopied Jeep tour of the mountain and culminating with wine samplings and a picnic lunch with breathtaking views and an impressive lunch. Individual event pricing is à la carte, with tickets ranging from $30 to $90, plus $130 for the Friday dinner at Splendido, available online. Some events are already sold out.

6 Days of Craft Spirits & Cocktails in Denver

DSTILL features Colorado & out-of-state distilleries & cocktails.

DStill-logoColorado has earned a huge reputation as one of America’s top craft brewing states, and the legalization of cannabis has put the state into the national spotlight. Being a wine drinker, I pay more heed to the vineyards and wineries. But coming right up is DSTILL (March 10-16) that showcases this boom in spirits, presenting tastings, craft cocktail events, pairing dinners, workshops and other programs for the hospitality trade and the public alike.

The Colorado spirits boom has taken off like a Roman candle. Peach Street Distillers in Palisade was the first Colorado distillery that entered my consciousness when I was researching Culinary Colorado, the 2003 book that inspired this blog, and less than a decade ago, there were just eight. Now, there are somewhere between 40 and 65 artisanal small batch and micro distilleries within our state lines. A new generation of passionate spirit producers and imaginative bartenders is credited with today’s resurgent craft cocktail culture.

One distillery that especially intrigues me is Basalt’s Woody Creek Distillers, a  state-of-the-art distillery goes so far as to grow its own potatoes on a family farm to make vodka, gin, brandy, eau de vie and whisky. And in ultra-Colorado fashion, the tasting room is accessible by car, bike (Rio Grande Trail) or even raft (Roaring Fork River).

As part of the week, DSTILL welcomes the American Craft Distillers Association (ACDA) first-ever national conference to Denver for two-days of workshops, keynote speakers and master classes for the trade. The Showcase, the signature tasting even,t is on Thursday, March 13 from 7 to 10 p.m., features tastes from 50 craft spirit makers. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online  To follow next week’s events, check out the DSTILL Facebook page. Events are at various Denver venues.