Last week we introduced five local bartenders who shared their favorite drinks to make at home. As COVID-19 has necessitated a more restrictive lockdown, we are expanding the piece into an ongoing series highlighting some of the region’s best and brightest. While an allowance for to-go cocktails has helped an industry in need, it’s understandable that many people are wanting to make drinks from the comfort of their own home. Below is a range of cocktails that have graced menus, highlight local spirits and inspire comfort and ease.
As service industry workers struggle to get a foothold in these uncertain times, various services have popped up to assist those who are struggling. This website allows people to tip a randomized staff member when they have a drink. We will also be including Venmo handles of the involved bartenders below if anyone wants to tip them personally.
Sean Kenyon – Owner of Williams and Graham, Occidental and American Bonded
Location: Williams and Graham is located at 3160 Tejon St., Denver. It is currently closed. Occidental is located at 1950 W 32nd Ave., Denver. It is currently closed. American Bonded is located at 2706 Larimer St., Denver. It is currently closed.
Recipe: The Blackberry Sage Smash
Reason: Actually, a drink that I created 15 years ago and has been on the menus at Steuben’s, The Squeaky Bean and Williams and Graham. It is perfect and easy to make at home.
Nick Touch – Brand Ambassador for The Family Jones
Location: The Family Jones Spirit House is located at 3245 Osage St., Denver. It is currently open every day 3 – 6 p.m.
Recipe: Tom Collins
Reason: The Tom Collins was memorialized in writing in 1876 by Jerry Thomas, the Father of American Mixology. I love this drink because it is easy to make, very refreshing and can be enjoyed at any time of day. This simple, sour style classic cocktail is versatile, and at-home-bartenders can add various ingredients to make it their own. Some suggestions would be fruit purees, liqueurs, honey syrup in place of the simple syrup, or herbs such as mint or basil. Cheers from The Family Jones.
Kevin Galaba – Bartender at Bread Bar and Executive Director at Friends and Family.
Location: Bread Bar is located at 1010 Main St., Silver Plume. It is currently closed. More info about Friends and Family can be found here.
Recipe: Winter Old Fashioned
Reason: The Winter Old Fashioned is my go-to cold-weather cocktail. I love an Old Fashioned for its simplicity, and for this version, a few tweaks to the classic recipe really dial in the seasonal flavor. The brown sugar-cinnamon syrup adds a bit of earthiness and a thicker mouthfeel, while the black walnut bitters add a magical warmth and sweetness that really evokes Christmas or Apres-Ski.
Venmo Handle: @kevingalaba
Scott Ruggiero – Bar Manager at OAK
Location: OAK is located at 1400 Pearl St., Boulder. It is currently open for takeout Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Recipe: Toddys for Days
Reason: When I am at home I like to make simple drinks, typically stirred and boozy like a Manhattan or Negroni. Lately, though, I have been on a Toddy or Hot Toddy kick depending on the weather. They are fun, simple and can allow for a lot of creativity depending on what is in the pantry. This recipe can be modified in many ways depending on what the home bartender likes. You can substitute Bourbon for Rye, Rum or Tequila. The ginger liqueur can be modified with Allspice Dram, herbal liqueurs — such as Yellow Chartreuse, Benedictine, Licor43 and St. Germain. The tea can be as simple as a lemon tea or complex as any herbal tea one would like. You can use honey syrup, agave, ginger syrup or any type of sugar you have laying around the house.
Venmo Handle: Ruggiero asked that if anyone would like to support, the best way is by ordering takeout food and cocktails, or buying a gift card from OAK.
Evren Bora – Bartender at Room for Milly and Quality Italian
Location: Room for Milly is located at 1615 Platte St. Suite 145, Denver. It is currently closed. Quality Italian is located at 241 Columbine St., Denver.
Recipe: Brown Derby
Reason: I chose the Brown Derby because it’s one of the first cocktails I taught my mom to make at home. She asked me for something without a lot of sugar but still had a ton of flavor, and this cocktail is just that. Everything in this cocktail should be easy to find and the clean-up is a breeze — no need to make a dozen crazy syrups to achieve a delicious flavor. Feel free and adjust the honey syrup to however sweet you’d like it, 2:1 is just my personal preference. I love bourbon, and this Derby Day classic is consistent, easy to make, and it packs a punch.
Venmo Handle: Bora asked that anyone hoping to tip to donate to the Quality Italian Denver Employee Relief Fund.