Work & Class, photos by Lindsey Bartlett. (09)

Old Fashioned. Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

What: Early Work Release Program (aka Happy Hour) at Work & Class

Where: 2500 Larimer St.

Neighborhood: RiNo

When: 4:oo p.m.- 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

With a line out the door every weekend and a “working class” themed operation, the bar at Work & Class is nothing short of a game changer in a city packed with speakeasy’s and mixologists. All three owners, Delores Tronco, Tony Maciag, and Executive Chef Dana Rodriguez, shared the vision of a casual, approachable eatery that still takes pride in amazing fare, ergo the restaurant’s theme, as well as the name. The menu at Work & Class

represents both Latin and American cuisine, and revolves around the notion that food should not be hard to understand, snobby, or leave you sitting hungry at your table for two hours.

This theme transfers seamlessly to the bar, as the current cocktail list includes only four cocktails, all starting with a house-made mix and your choice of spirit. Though the bar is stocked from head to toe with a plethora of imported and local spirits, Work & Class is not interested in the ever popular revival of cocktail culture, at least not in the pretentious sense. Bar manager and longtime local cocktail slinger, J.P. Polacek, explained the bar’s concept to me in his own words:

“It’s all about speed, essentially. That’s what this whole program is about, so you’re not waiting fifteen minutes for a cocktail.”

Work & Class, photos by Lindsey Bartlett. (14)

Tart Pomegranate-Cucumber. Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

“It’s all about speed, essentially. That’s what this whole program is about, so you’re not waiting fifteen minutes for a cocktail.” The ‘Early Work Release Program’, what Work & Class impishly named its happy hour, is designed to create no extraneous stress for the diner. With $3 select drafts, $4 house wine, and all cocktails at $5, it takes little brain power to choose your poison quickly and know exactly what you’re getting. Happy hour food is also served in a $3-4-5 increment system, with four choices and zero hassle.

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Spicy-Basil Sour. Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

As for the cocktail list, how does something so simple survive in a city full of 7-ingredient cocktails, swizzled, on a hand-carved ice sphere? There seems to be a balance in Denver with the revival of the “Mad Men” cocktail culture, for every Barrel Aged Old Fashioned ordered, there is always some guy out there who just wants a good o’ well rum and Coke. Simplicity is a concept often lost in the constantly developing contemporary cuisine scene, and it is simplicity that has helped Work & Class achieve its high reputation.

The Spicy-Basil Sour stands out as a refreshing, citrus heavy cocktail mix with a spicy kick, made up of juiced jalapeño, lemon, and lime, finished with basil simple syrup. Add tequila, by suggestion, or your spirit of choice, this mix takes the place of a house margarita. Also a step into spring, the Tart Pomegranate-Cucumber is a mix of exactly what it sounds like, freshly juiced cucumber and pomegranate. This versatile mix pairs perfectly with whisky or tequila, and would complement a Latin inspired dish beautifully, such as their Cochinita Pibil (red-chili braised pork) with a side of Fried Sweet Plantains. All the meat and fish dishes are served a-la-carte, with about a dozen choices of side plates to accompany them, making for a perfect sharing opportunity. Keep in mind, the current menu is due to change come March, where the bar will also revamp by shedding every spirit not made within the Western Hemisphere. So come enjoy some of Work & Class’s amazing dishes and spirits before the next menu rolls out this spring.

All photography by Lindsey Bartlett