What: Linger

Where: 2030 W. 30th Ave., Denver, CO 80211

When: Happy hour is in the bar and on the roof only, Tuesday-Friday, 4:00-6:30 pm

Don’t Miss: The cocktails all impress, but don’t miss the New Saigon, the Whiskey Daisy, and the Red Sangria (all $5). The best food options include the Devils on Horseback ($6), the Mongolian BBQ Duck Bun ($4), and the Organic Sweet Potato Waffle Fries ($5).

The Whiskey Daisy, Photo by Lori Stewart

The Whiskey Daisy, Photo by Lori Stewart

Linger might be set in an old mortuary, but the restaurant is very much alive. If you tried to get a reservation for this Friday night, for example, you wouldn’t have much luck. Despite opening two summers ago, Linger is still a hot table on the Denver dining scene. Fortunately, Linger also offers happy hour Tuesday through Friday. You won’t need a reservation, but you might have to leave work early to snag a coveted seat on their amazing patio.

When I arrived promptly at 4:00 pm, there was already a line of people hoping to sit on the upstairs patio. Linger’s rooftop is impressive. It’s a great spot to wash your work worries away with a few cocktails. But even if you can’t secure a table upstairs, Linger’s regular bar area features open windows, comfy booths, and high top tables for larger groups. I particularly love the lite brite bar, which takes me back to hours of neon fun. Although when I played with the lite brite as a seven year old, I wasn’t drinking a gin cocktail…but I digress.

The Red Sangria, Photo by Lori Stewart

The Red Sangria, Photo by Lori Stewart

Like the food offerings, Linger’s cocktails take inspiration from around the world. One of their best cocktails is the New Saigon ($5), which balances gin, cucumber, Thai basil, jalapeño, lime, and black pepper. It’s a bold drink, but Linger does it well. The cocktail is all gin and cucumber at first taste, but a pleasant burn from the jalapeño and black pepper follows. If you’ve been hesitant to try a spicy cocktail, the New Saigon would be a great place to start. Bourbon drinkers will love the Whiskey Daisy ($5), which includes bourbon, lemon, pomegranate & Angostura bitters. And one of the best drinks on the menu is the Red Sangria ($5). Beverage Director Mike Henderson uses lemon juice,  orange juice, orange curaçao, and brandy to mellow out the red wine, resulting in a refreshing and very drinkable cocktail. The best part of all of Linger’s drinks, however, is how well Henderson uses acid, savory ingredients, and herbs to complement sweetness. Linger proves that a good cocktail doesn’t need gallons of simple syrup or cosmo mix. Even their Coconut Daiquiri ($5) is made with coconut milk and clear rum to ensure that you can have more than one before you collapse from a sugar headache.

Devils on Horseback, Photo by Lori Stewart

Devils on Horseback, Photo by Lori Stewart

Linger’s drinks are strong enough that after one or two you will definitely need some food.  My favorite item is the famous Devils on Horseback ($6). Chef Justin Cucci stuffs Medjool dates with herbed goat cheese, wraps them in Tender Belly bacon, and tops it all with a Sambal gastrique. The dates are served with a slice of lime. Squeezing the acid on top of the dates adds a nice depth of flavor and I could eat these dates every day. They are warm, bite size, and scrumptious. Of course, it might be overkill to order a few dozen dates, so if you want to sample something else I recommend the Mongolian BBQ Duck Bun ($4 each). The duck was perfectly cooked and topped with delicious miso-pickled cucumbers. Chef Cucci highlights classic Korean flavors with his Mongolian BBQ sauce and the bun had just the right doughy consistency. Other food highlights include the Organic Sweet Potato Fries ($5), the Wagyu Slider ($5.50), and the Sugar Snap Peas ($5). Order a few and you won’t leave hungry!

Mongolian BBQ Duck Bun, Photo by Lori Stewart

Mongolian BBQ Duck Bun, Photo by Lori Stewart

Perhaps the only downfall of Linger is that it can get crowded. And even though the restaurant is one of the toughest reservations in town, the staff hasn’t let success go to their head. Service is prompt and the waitstaff goes out of their way to explain all of the delicious menu items, including great vegan and gluten free options for diners. Overall, the restaurant is the perfect choice to relax after work.  Tasty food, excellent drinks, and a fun scene, Linger does happy hour right.

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