5 Winter Warmers to Ring in 2014

By Ruth Tobias  |  December 26, 2013
Credit: Ruth Tobias

Technically, winter just began, but the chill has been seeping into Denverites’ bones for weeks now. In the midst of the dreariness, we could all use a stiff drink, so cheers to crackerjacks like the following bartenders, who are pouring the goods with gusto.

  • CapRock FarmBar’s New Deal

    “There’s always some kind of science project going on,” says David Donovan, manager of the showcase for Peak Spirits that is CapRock FarmBar, located smack in the middle of the action at The Source. Sure enough, the island counter’s lined with the Mason jars and apothecary bottles whose contents factor into its tightly curated list of seasonal cocktails, all featuring products from Lance and Anna Hanson’s celebrated organic Hotchkiss distillery.

    Among them right now is The New Deal (pictured right), which “pays homage to the Sazerac - only a winterized Colorado version,” as Donovan puts it. CapRock Rosa Senza Grappa “is macerated with pink rosebud and anise for a nice digestive aspect. Adding cocoa syrup gives it a warming feel, along with Peychaud’s Bitters and black-tea tincture to round it out.” In short, don’t let the words “cocoa syrup” fool you; served over hand-cut ice with an orange twist, this one’s all about balance, not sweetness.

    3350 Brighton Blvd.; 303-828-7887

  • Williams & Graham’s Spiced Apple Flip

    Sean Kenyon - the gentleman-scholar behind LoHi’s eminent neo-speakeasy - graciously provided the recipe for the Spiced Apple Flip his crew is currently whipping up:

    1.5 oz. Daron Calvados
    .5 oz. ginger liqueur
    .5 oz. Amaro Nonino
    .5 oz. orgeat syrup
    4 dashes Angostura bitters
    1 whole egg
    whole nutmeg for garnish

    In a mixing tin, add all liquid ingredients with the egg. Shake without ice to emulsify, then add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Grate nutmeg over the top.

    3160 Tejon St.; 303-997-8886

  • À Côté’s Fantazia

    “Many winter cocktails feature brandy or whiskey; this is atypical,” admits Eli Kerlin, bartender at the Art Deco-splashed absinthe bar adjacent to Patrick Dupays’s beloved LoHi bistro Z Cuisine. “Patrick loves to name the drinks; that’s his contribution to his program. He always wants to put a ‘z’ in there. So the Fantasy with a ‘z’ is that you’re in the middle of summer when it’s winter. This is meant to transport you away from five-degree weather in Denver.”

    For starters, Kerlin explains, “We’re really fortunate to deal a lot with Stephen Gould of Golden Moon Distillery - we love him. We also love his gin, which has a lot of lavender and other botanicals. For the cocktail, we use that and his crème de violette. It’s citrus season, so we add Cara Cara orange and Meyer lemon juices, as well as Aperol and two ingredients from Bittermens out of Brooklyn: they make an Alsatian-style orange liqueur Amère Nouvelle and a hopped-grapefruit bitters - a couple of drops give the drink a really nice texture at the back end. Then we shake it all and strain it into François Montand sparkling rosé from Jura, putting an orange twist on top.” Could be just the bright-tart thing to cut through the richness of that tartine gratinée.

    2239 W. 30th Ave.; 303-477-1111

  • CAUTION: Brewing Co.’s Toaster Bat Black Smoked Robust Porter

    At both the Denver headquarters and the brand-new Lakewood tap room, CAUTION head brewer Danny Wang is pouring a toasty-indeed, limited-release version of his porter, made with both smoked and peated malts for winter. The Bomber Bat is aged in bourbon barrels and sealed under wax in hand-signed, numbered bottles - of which there are only 240. So get the beer that may, according to the tasting notes, make you “think you just saw a bat get shot out of a toaster” while the getting’s good.

    12445 E. 39th St.; 970-315-2739
    1057 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Unite 60, Lakewood; 970-315-2739

  • Rackhouse Pub

    Though this funky warehouse of a bar and grill pours a full catalog of small-batch Colorado spirits and beers, it’s attached to the Stranahan’s distillery. So it comes as no surprise that the whiskey stars in several cocktails, including bar manager Jessica Durr’s “very simple favorite,” the hot toddy, which she makes with the herbal French liqueur Bénédictine as well as fresh lemon juice and a touch of honey to “warm you right up.”

    208 S. Kalamath St.; 720-570-7824