Am I the only one who gets a bit lost in the craft cocktail world? More than often, I find myself settling for a beer due to the overwhelming list of ingredients that follow each and every cocktail — and honestly, by the time I get through the list, it’s out of sheer thirst and exhaustion that I end up just going for that cold brew. I’m not ashamed to say I think it’s necessary to take a step back from this never-ending cocktail trend of elaborate mixtures and concoctions, maybe settle down with a simpler approach, a “classic” sip, if you will.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s something to be said about the type of developed palate it takes to create a tasty, well-balanced and visually appealing adult beverage. I’m just the girl who prefers and craves a cold brew, a bubbly glass of prosecco or — if I’m feeling especially fancy — I’ll order my go-to cocktail, a dirty martini.
It’s funny — although I tend to opt for an IPA and the not-so-occasional (gasp) Miller Lite, I have to admit I can be fairly particular about the way my “dirty” is made when I get that hankering for one. Surprisingly enough, I’ve had more than a handful of terrible tasting experiences with a simple gin martini. If given the option, I’d get rid of the addition of vermouth altogether. The Cruise Room bartender Aaron Meisheid said it best, “Martinis should be made with gin.” I couldn’t agree more.
The Cruise Room was actually the first post-prohibition bar to open in Denver in 1933. Situated just inside The Oxford Hotel with a vintage art deco design and a red glow throughout, the bar leaves you feeling like you’re in a quiet, jazzy speakeasy. If not for the ambience alone, The Cruise Room should be on your radar for mixing one of the better — if not best — dirty martinis in the Mile High.
You don’t have to take my word for it, but if you know what’s good for you, you’ll try this martini just the way Meisheld whipped it up for me. Order the dirty martini ($13) extra dirty with Death’s Door Gin. When given the option of blue cheese-stuffed olives or plain, always choose stuffed. The drink is simply shaken with one to two ounces of olive juice and served in a chilled glass. It is appropriate for the simplest sip for happy hour or that celebratory “I got through Monday” night cap. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of the cocktails The Cruise Room serves up; plus, it’s a great escape from the normal riff-raff you tend to find in post-work downtown.
The Cruise Room 1600 17th Street, Denver; 303-825-1107
All photography by Lucy Beaugard