There are signs all over the city that Denver is on the up and up. From new chefs flooding in from all corners of the world to upcoming musicians and an ever-expanding cocktail scene — our city is gaining and growing. And one of our most recent gains opened on Blake street last week.
Located in the former 9th Door space, Pony Up debuted Saturday, July 21 and it came through with some cool concepts, like half-priced champagne bottles all day Sunday, and Monday through Thursday at midnight and bar food until 1 a.m. — not to mention a cocktail program that’s out of this world.
With cocktails like The West Indies Sour ($13), made with Angostura five-year rum, lime, egg white and an Angostura amaro float and the “classic” Negroni ($11) made with grapefruit bitters and cava, Pony Up’s summer cocktail list is both lively and fresh. With its rich creativity and flare, the drinks are much like the woman behind the menu.
“I moved around a lot and worked at some badass places,” explained bar managed Suzanne Navarro. “I grew up in Miami and left Miami for Manhattan. I was a pastry chef in Manhattan, then went to San Francisco and worked in Michelin star restaurant before becoming a bartender and moving to Hawaii.”
During her travels, she worked all over the industry from being a food stylist for Nickelodeon to bartending at Three Dots and a Dash — one of the countries premier tiki bars. This tropical destination has been revered as one of the world’s best bars and has been noted by industry leaders such as Travel + Leisure, Eater and CNN Traveler. Now, she’s teamed up with owners Angela Neri and Sheamus Feeley (formerly of Hillstone) for their newest adventure, Pony Up.
“We had an amazing opportunity with Suzanne Navarro coming from Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago and she introduced some really fun stuff,” explained co-owner and partner, Neri. “We have all the classics on the list, but then our plays as well with a lot of new techniques. And each drink is a different style of cocktail, we tried to hit every style.”
From the Grande Matcha-Colada ($14), which Navarro says reminds her of one of her favorite coffee shop orders (a grande dirty matcha), to the Sky Water ($11), which pays homage to childhood vacations spent in the Bahamas, each drink is both unique and detailed. And their wine program is just as intricate.
“There are so many people that love wine and champagne in Denver and we know that the industry loves champagne, so we wanted to have this available, especially at such a reasonable price,” explained Neri in describing the Pony Up wine program.
In addition to the drinks, Pony Up is offering elevated snacks to accompany its craft cocktails — and French dips are the specialty. From The Frenchie with roast beef, gruyere, thyme, crispy onions to The Saigon with lemongrass pork, cilantro, basil, jalapeños and spicy mayo all on a ciabatta roll, the kitchen is taking this classic sandwich to a new level. And if dips aren’t your thing, Pony Up has an array of mouthwatering bar snacks available until 1 a.m. — like the crispy ginger, garlic and soy marinated chicken with a lemon spicy mayo or the twice cooked crispy potatoes with parmesan.
One glance at the menu, booze or food, and you can quickly tell that this team cut no corners in the creation of Pony Up. They took the time to formulate drinks and bites that would both represent them as individuals and offer something new and exciting to the Denver community. With talent like Navarro behind the bar — it is showing us that not only is Denver up and coming, but it has become somewhat of a destination for industry veterans. And while there are mixed opinions among locals on whether that growth is positive or negative, one thing is for sure, Pony Up is a welcome addition to Blake Street.