1422 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202
You have to be looking for Green Russell, it’s tucked away below ground in Larimer Square and offers a speak-easy ambiance worth of the drinks. All the drinks are modeled after pre-prohibition, simple and original cocktail recipes. The bartenders in scally caps and vests just want to know “What do you normally drink?” and they’re ready to mix up anything. I asked my bartender to surprise me. He made me a “Chocolate Flip” with Oronoco Rum, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Colorado’s Leopold Brothers Alpine Herbal Liqueur, Fernet Branca Amaro (bitter) Liqueur, maple syrup, and a whole raw egg. So what did all those fancy and odd ingredients taste like? A mocha soda!
32 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
Delite is this delicious and hip little bar along South Broadway. Notable for its diner-style retro signs, like “Mixed Drinks” hung above the bar it serves upgraded bar food, like spicy tuna tartare and black bean sopes, and plenty of interesting drinks complete with sprigs of rosemary and lollipops. The “Levini” martini, with Ketel One Vodka, blue cheese stuffed olives, a rosemary sprig and fresh cracked pepper is not to be missed. The “Dirty School Girl” martini is a sticky, sweet delicious concoctionof Skyy Vodka, strawberry liqueur, splash of cranberry juice and orange juice, club soda and a lollipop.
Next Door Lounge
1612 East 17th Avenue
Denver, CO 80218
Next Door Lounge offers up all the trappings of a neighborhood bar including strong drinks and pool tables. The house drinks are super fun most notably two shots: The Ex-Lover and Tiger’s Blood. Now, I was told The Ex-Lover may be borrowed from Wyman’s, but nonetheless, was a first time experience for me at Next Door. It went like this. “Here, try an … ex-lover.” Mmmm, pineapple, sweet, tangy- whoa! Wait, kind of burning, haaaa, not sweet anymore! Hmm, kind of like love! Hence, the name. It’s pineapple juice and jalapeno vodka. And another favorite of the locals is Tiger’s Blood: vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and sweet and sour, named after the infamous Charlie Sheen rants!
1632 Market Street
Denver, CO 80202
Mario’s Double Daughters Salotto has a menu full of eccentric drinks, by far the largest selection I’ve seen of house-made odd drinks. One of my favorites is the “Hollow Hills” with vodka, Tuaca, apple, apricot and pomegranate juices with a gumdrop garnish! Along similar lines, try the “Teddy Bear’s Orgy” with Soli Strasberi, Cointreau, cranberry and lime juice, topped with a lime and gummy bears. I imagine the “Running of the Bulls” is a favorite on DJ techno nights with Jagermeister, Go-Fast, Amaretto, Coca-Cola and Sprite. And don’t miss what’s hiding behind the bar, a tank column full of “Succo Vaffanculo di Mario” which is a “Mario” secret recipe of 17 different liquor concoctions to set you straight or sideways!
1509 Marion Street
Denver, CO 80218
How would you like to down a shot of Polish vodka, teamed with raspberry liqueur and Tabasco sauce? Or how about a garlic-infused vodka paired with pickles? Perhaps a an appley “Zubrowka” or orangey “Zotadkowa”? Plum, Garlic, Horseradish, Dill, Caramel, or Anise infused vodka? Then Kinga’s Lounge is for you. The spot at Colfax and Marion offers all things Polish from vodkas to beer to food including kielbasas and pierogis.
– Sarah Carpenter lives in Littleton, where she was born and raised. She spent a decade in Downtown Denver, and its surrounding neighborhoods, going to school for writing, working in the service industry, and getting to know Denver’s diverse culture. She has a passion for travel writing, local and afar, focusing the story on its people, culture and region.