Let’s talk about gin. While this fine botanical liquor has existed for centuries, only recently has it become one of the most popular spirits in modern mixology. For some, gin evokes memories of a Christmas-tree-flavored hangover after raiding your parents’ liquor cabinet — meanwhile, others may have always been partial to a classic gin martini.
Now, more than ever, gin has emerged as an unexpected star on cocktail lists across the country. Furthermore, it only makes sense that here in the Mile High City, gin is popping up everywhere from eclectic dance clubs to lavish cocktail lounges. Curious imbibers may now have their gin and tonic served from a gleaming cart filled with various botanicals and accouterments, or try a unique cocktail with craft gin from a local distillery.
Seeking a special bottle to bring home and impress your guests? We have that as well. Now, let us be your guide to drinking gin in Denver.
Where: 2021 W 32nd Ave, Denver.
The Lowdown: This sleek neighborhood cocktail lounge brings a “Palm Springs” feel to Lohi. It also presents a literary-themed cocktail menu with Miss Daisy Buchanan ($12) at the forefront. Think of a boozy-liquid creamsicle with an extra kick of citrus. This is exactly what you get when you mix Hendrick’s gin, blood orange, lime and egg white in a charming little cocktail glass. Did we mention $1 from every cocktail is donated to The Lighthouse Literary Center? Who said do-goodery and drinking can’t be a delicious duo?
The Cruise Room
Where: 1600 17th St, Denver.
The Lowdown: Located in the iconic Oxford Hotel, The Cruise Room offers a Gatsby-eque atmosphere with a golden list of classic cocktails — one-third of which are gin-based. The lights are low, the jukebox is free and the French 75 ($12) is on point. For those who may be unfamiliar, a French 75 is a simple concoction of gin, lemon juice, sugar and sparkling wine. Bonus: You may also enjoy a gimlet (substitute gin), which was supposedly created to stop scurvy. Therefore, in a sense, gin could save lives.
Where: 1701 Wynkoop St #125, Denver.
The Lowdown: Ultreia, a compact yet spirited fixture in Denver’s Union Station, brings a Spanish twist to the downtown drinking scene. The name in itself translates to “encouragement to keep going, reaching beyond, heading onwards.” Hence, this Spanish and Portuguese restaurant offers an exceptional gin and tonic program to please any budding gin palate (alongside excellent tapas). Try these botanically-boosted, refreshing staples— SGT. Peppers with Opihr gin, orange, zest, clove, pink & black peppercorns and Fever-Tree aromatic tonic ($14), or the Junebug, with Princepe de Los Apostoles gin, juniper berries, mint, lime and Fever-Tree elderflower tonic ($13).
Where: 3622 Tejon St, Denver.
The Lowdown: While LoHi’s Mythology Distillery has yet to release its own gin, the adventure-focused craft distillery and cocktail bar still offers a sweet little selection of gin cocktails. Try the Barbados Elixir ($12) with falernum, lime, celery juice, fennel and soda.
The Family Jones
Where: 3245 Osage St, Denver.
The Lowdown: This stylish spirit house is home to both an eclectic food menu and an exciting array of gin options. Sip on a Gin Blossom ($12) with Jones house gin, spirit house crème de violette, bitter orange, crème de cacao and edible flower, or bring a bottle of Juniper Jones gin home.
Where: 2811 Walnut St, Denver.
The Lowdown: Gin bar? Dance Club? Full-sensory experience? Whatever you would like to call it, RiNo’s Yeah Baby is a special space with a bright, playful atmosphere and impressive range of cocktails featuring CapRock spirits. Pop in and try it for yourself to see what it’s all about.
Where: 2030 W 30th Ave, Denver.
The Lowdown: From the beginning, Linger has been incredibly transparent about embracing both diversity and eccentricity. This is also apparent on their cocktail list. Why not embrace the concept of imbibing in a mortuary-turned-“eatuary” by ordering a Corpse Reviver ($12) with gin (of course), ginger liqueur, lillet blanc, absinthe, lemon, activated black charcoal and an edible flower?
Where: 1023 Walnut St #400, Boulder.
The Lowdown: At last — but certainly not least — escape the Denver scene (if you so desire) and enjoy a majestic view of the Flatirons at Boulder’s Corrida. An extensive gin and tonic selection will materialize in front of your eyes as your bartender rolls out a cart filled with delightful, drinkable accessories. If decision-making is an issue, opt for the Bright ($16) with Monkey 47, Fever Tree elderflower tonic, lemon and watermelon radish.
For the Road
Wishing to stay in with your gin? Here are a few options to consider for your home-bar-situation.
Block Distilling Co.
Where: 2990 Larimer St, Denver.
The Lowdown: Dismiss the entire Christmas-tree-concept when gin comes to mind and consider a gorgeous realm of possibilities. Could gin be aged in clean American oak barrels and taste nothing like juniper? Oh, yes it can. RiNo’s Block Distilling Co. has created something that will truly make you change the way you feel about gin. The Fire & Ice ($14) consists of Winter gin, Peychaud’s bitters and toasted winter walnut syrup in a fennel fire glass. Think of it as a gin cocktail with a hot toddy flavor profile. Also, why do we specify “Winter gin?” Block happens to produce a gin for every season. You may also bring one of their stylishly block-like bottles home for private indulgence.
Where: 5285 Joliet St., Denver
The Lowdown: If you aren’t familiar with Denver’s Leopold Bros., perhaps it is time to get acquainted. This prominent local distillery offers a seasonal, citrus-forward summer gin, an American small-batch gin which was called the “Best American Gin” by The Wall Street Journal and an appropriately powerful Navy strength American Gin. What is Navy strength gin, may you ask?
According to the Leopold Bros. website, “the term navy strength was bestowed by the British Royal Navy only on those gins high enough in proof to still render gunpowder flammable should it be drenched by the spirit.”
Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse
Where: 3636 Chestnut Pl, Denver
The Lowdown: The Dutch-inspired Genièvre gin at RiNo’s Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse is intended to surprise and delight those who may otherwise reject the traditional idea of what gin should be. This creation by head distiller Laura Walters is “a gin for the whiskey drinker,” offering a refreshing combination of citrus in spice. You can also taste it in house, and we recommend the G and T Your Way ($9) served Spanish style with seasonal fruits and herbs
Where: Various locations
The Lowdown: This impressive newcomer may not be distilled in Colorado, however, the Boulder-based brand came about from a passionate husband and wife team who took three years of recipe development to create a distinctly balanced premium gin which is imported from the Scottish Highlands whilst preserving the tradition and craft. Amazingly, Coloradans are among the first who may experience it.