Ask A Denver Expert: Top Cocktails To Serve For 4th Of July

June 15, 2016 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

What are your plans for the Fourth of July? The holiday will be here before you know it, so you might want to start planning that backyard barbecue or neighborhood block party. The Fourth of July is always the perfect summertime holiday and it’s a great chance to show off your stuff as a home bartender. Whether you’re having a big shindig or you just want to make a special drink to impress your sweetie on the holiday, here are a few creative drink recipes from two really creative Denver restaurants and bars. Plan ahead, get only the best quality ingredients and enjoy these cocktail recipes from the folks at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox and Prohibition Denver.
Mike Henderson
Beverage Director
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
1215 20th St.
Denver, CO 80202

If you’ve never had the chance to check out Ohelia’s Electric Sopabox, you’re in for a treat. This hip joint, based in an old warehouse, is one of the most popular places to grab some amazing food and creative cocktails while you enjoy the comfortable atmosphere and great location. And when it comes to creative cocktails, Ophelia’s has got you covered. With a huge wine list and great beers as well, the menu at Ophelia’s is creative but also very cohesive to the restaurant itself, with a strong vision and plenty to enjoy. Here, Mike Henderson, the Beverage Director for Ophelia’s, shares two of their recipes as well as some great tips for the at-home bartender, all of which are perfect for the Fourth of July holiday.

The PG13

This simple cocktail is bright and crisp, thanks to the additions of flavors like ginger and cucumber. If you don’t have a well-stocked bar, Henderson explains why it’s easy to get started at home with a cocktail like this one. “When trying to stock your home bar, start by finding a cocktail you like or looks interesting and just buy the spirits needed for that one cocktail. Repeat that as you move through making new cocktails and before you know it, you’ll have a decently stocked bar. Focus on adding different liqueurs to your stock and less on having 30 brands of gin,” he advises.


  • Two ounces Dill-Cucumber-Black Pepper Vodka (infuse one liter vodka with three springs of dill, 10 – 12 cucumber slices and one teaspoon black pepper. Let sit for 24 hours.)
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • ¼ ounce ginger juice
  • ¼ ounce rich simple syrup
  • soda water
  • cucumber and dill to garnish


  1. Build all ingredients in a Collins glass over ice.
  2. Top with soda water.
  3. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a spring of fresh dill.

Related: Top Bar Food In Denver

The NC17

Another simple cocktail to wow your guests, this great cocktail is just as refreshing for a warm summer day. This one involves using a cocktail shaker, so you may need to start building your own bar supplies at home as well. If you haven’t built your own at-home bar yet, Henderson explains, “Invest in a decent set of bar tools. Websites like sell the same equipment you see at most high-end bars. You’ll need a set of cocktail shakers, a mixing glass, a set of jiggers, A bar spoon, a conical strainer, a Hawthorn strainer, and a Julep strainer. With that set, you can make just about any cocktail you’d see in a cocktail book.” Perhaps, once you get all set up, you can start with this one.


  • Two ounces vodka
  • ¾ ounce Aperol
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce Contratto Rosso
  • ¼ ounce rich simple syrup


  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass.
  4. Garnish with zest of lemon.

Related: Top Bars With A Patio In Denver

Jimmy Callahan
Prohibition Denver
504 E Colfax
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 832-4840

Another awesome bar to enjoy while you’re near the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Prohibition Denver is a comfortable, slick joint with plenty of room to relax. The food is great and the cocktails here are far more creative than most other locations found nearby. From classics like the Moscow Mule to new creations like the Colfax Reviver (which is made with Leopold Gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and Leopold’s Blackberry) there is a lot to sample and enjoy. Here, Jimmy Callahan from Prohibition shares another great cocktail recipe for your Fourth of July barbecue.

Whisky Thyme

If backyard barbecues and neighborhood block parties are whisky time for you, then this is the perfect cocktail to bring out for all your friends. This one is a little involved, but the final result is a delicious creation that is unlike anything else your guests have tried before. Make the thyme tea ahead of time, then you can whip these up for each guest. Serve it over fresh ice with a little fresh thyme for garnish and everyone will be asking for this recipe.


Thyme Tea

  • Your favorite regular tea (you don’t want to bring in any additional flavors here, go for something simple)
  • Four ounces fresh thyme


  • Two ounces Bourbon or Rye of your choice
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • Three ounces thyme tea
  • One-ounce agave syrup


  1. Boil four quarts of water.
  2. Add several tea bags to the water (make to your liking).
  3. Take off heat after two minutes.
  4. Steep fresh thyme in the tea for 20 minutes.
  5. Strain and chill completely.
  6. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker over fresh ice.
  7. Shake until well mixed and strain into a cocktail glass.
    Garnish with fresh thyme.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at