With summer still in full force, now’s the time to enjoy some of the best seasonal cocktails Denver has to offer. After all, what’s better than starting (or ending) a summer evening by sitting on an outdoor patio and enjoying a refreshing cocktail? While you can’t go wrong with a classic margarita or mojito, up your cocktail game with one of these creative beverages.
Central Bistro – Casanova
Where: 1691 Central Street
While the Central G&T is a probably my favorite in the city, on these warm summer days I’d recommend the refreshing, tequila-based Casanova. This easy drinking cocktail isn’t too sweet, with Camarena silver tequila, hot pepper tincture, lime, cilantro, and a smoked salt rim. The cilantro gives it a gorgeous green color and fresh herbal flavor that’s hard to beat.
Session Kitchen – Cantaloupe Whiskey Sour
Where: 1518 S Pearl Street
The classic whiskey sour gets a creative, seasonal update from the talented folks behind the bar at Session Kitchen. Smoked bits of cantaloupe and lemon are frozen to replace ice cubes in this zingy drink. Made with George Dickel rye, cantaloupe, plenty of lemon juice, and an egg white for a slightly creamy texture, this is a revitalizing update of a old-school drink.
Zengo – The TK Stawberry Caipiroska
Where: 1610 Little Raven Street
While Zengo offers a tempting array of mojito flavors, I recommend you try the Strawberry caipiroska , a test kitchen cocktail that’s only around until September. This reviving brew contains vodka, Thai basil simple syrup, lime, fresh strawberry puree, and ginger ale. If you’re looking for a cocktail that goes down smooth, this is it. The vodka is all but imperceptible, making it too easy to enjoy more than one.
Olive and Finch – H2OooooooMelon
Where: 1552 E 17th Avenue
Olive and Finch has a full juice bar, and come nighttime you can enjoy those same fresh squeezed juices in their signature cocktails. The H20Melon combines freshly juiced watermelon with St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and sparkling wine for a restorative summer drink that’s not too boozy. Watermelon is one of my favorite seasonal fruits, and it makes this surprisingly sophisticated cocktail super hydrating.
Guard and Grace – Maria Rosalita
Where: 1801 California Street
This vibrantly red cocktail is just the thing for a hot summer afternoon spent on Guard and Grace’s urban patio. Tequila, smashed strawberries, mint, and sparkling rose make for a delicious, summery sipper. The bubbles from the rose lift the drink, and the mint makes for a slightly unexpected but cooling addition.
Humboldt – King of Montenegro
Where: 1700 Humboldt Street
While bourbon might not be the most obvious choice for a summer cocktail, the King of Montenegro manages to taste light and fresh on a hot day. One of Humboldt’s most popular cocktails, this drink packs quite a punch. W.L. Wellers bourbon, amaro, lemon, house made grenadine, and a ginger beer floater make a boozy yet balanced drink.
Spruce – Blueberry Smash
Where: 2115 13th Street, Boulder
While I love a fruity cocktail on occasion, I don’t love consuming a day’s worth of sugar in one beverage. Luckily the blueberry smash at Spruce (which just opened on Monday, in the revamped space that Q’s Restaurant once occupied in the Hotel Boulderado) manages to deliver fruit flavor without all the excess sugar. Fresh blueberries are muddled and mixed with lemon juice, a house made thyme simple syrup, Colorado-made Cap Rock gin, and a little bit of St. Germaine. The result? A fruity cocktail that’s herbal, balanced, and not-too-sweet—perfect for summer.
Panzano- Lychee Sparkler
Where: 909 17th Avenue, Denver, CO
Lychee, a prickly, acorn shaped fruit with a soft almost slimy texture, has become a popular ingredient for many mixologists. However, with their slightly inorganic taste, lychee inspired cocktails aren’t always on the mark. Either overpowered with sour notes or left bland, this exotic ingredient can be quite fickle. Enter the Lychee Sparkler, a concoction whipped up for the Zonin Cocktail competition at Panzano, was the winning choice among some of Denver’s elite food critics. The cocktail, made by Panzano’s own Jodi Dolph, is a light and refreshing mixture of prosecco, lychee liqueur and ginger syrup. Everyone agreed, even if they were a fan of lychee or not, that this cocktail was a total knock out. Make sure to grab one during Panzano’s famous happy hour every day from 2:30-6:00 before it goes off the menu this Fall.