5 Local Bartenders Share Their Favorite Drink Recipes to Make at Home

Photo by Alden Bonecutter.

Since Governor Polis declared a mandatory 30-day shutdown of bars and restaurants, the community has been quickly implementing a range of monumental changes. It’s been a week of incredible uncertainty for business owners, laid-off employees and the dining public. While people still can, and should, get their meals to-go, drinking has become restricted to an at-home activity. Update — bars and restaurants can now include alcohol in the to-go and delivery options. Below are five recipes from some of the front range’s most creative talent, carefully selected to combat the stir crazy.

Update — as service industry workers struggle to get a foothold in these uncertain times, various services have popped up to assist folks in need. 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. 

McLain Hedges – Beverage Director at Morin and Rosetta Hall and Owner of The Proper Pour

McLain Hedges. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Location: Morin is located at 1600 15th St., Denver. It is currently closed. ; Rosetta Hall is located at 1109 Walnut St., Boulder. The involved restaurants are currently in the process of figuring out to-go service. The Proper Pour is located in The Source at 3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver. It is open Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 6 p.m. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.

Recipe: Knuck If You Buck

1 1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau or similar)
1/2 oz Calvados (or gin works great too)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
3 oz Ginger Beer (Fever Tree or something similar)
6 dashes Angostura Bitters (or Absinthe if you want to get freaky)
If you have a shaker tin at home, great. If not, no worries – just grab a glass and add all ingredients together and get to business.
If shaking, add all ingredients to the tin minus ginger beer. Give a good shake — depending on the quality of ice — and strain into a highball or your favorite glass that can hold some ice. Add ginger beer and fill with ice. Garnish with any number of awesomeness — mint, lemon peel, more bitters — all the above.

Reason: A classic from the Rino Yacht Club days and one I love to knock back if I want something that feels like a fancy cocktail but in actuality is just a spruced up mule of sorts. It’s easy to make and even easier to drink. This low ABV drink has depth, spice, bubbly lift and is the party you’ll be looking for once you’re holed up waiting on things to calm down out in the world.

Alex Jump – Head Bartender at Death and Co.

Alex Jump. Photo courtesy of Shawn Campbell.

Location: Death and Co. is located at 1280 25th St., Denver. It is currently closed. However, Death and Co. Market is selling a variety of accessories including glasses, flasks, hats and apparel. There is also a GoFundMe set up for staff relief. 

Recipe: Tinto de Verano

5-6 oz of Red Wine
Any flavored La Croix, Seltzer, Soda, or likewise (my favorite is Tangerine La Croix)
Build ingredients in a wine glass over ice. Garnish with an orange wedge, if you have some oranges available. 

Reason: This was one of my favorite drinks when I visited Jerez, Spain back in 2017. Sure, at first glance it might just sound like a low-brow Sangria, but this thirst quencher is a total delight. Not to mention it’s great for the budget and you can play around with whatever sodas you already have at home. Bonus, I’ve seen a lot of people Venmo-ing their local bartenders tips for every time they enjoy a beverage at home right now. A great way to take care of those of us that rely on guest tips during a time when we are seeing very steep declines in business.

Venmo Handle: Jump asked that anyone hoping to tip donate to the GoFundMe.

Austin Carson – Beverage Director at Restaurant Olivia

Austin Carson. Photo courtesy of Joni Schrantz.

Location: Restaurant Olivia is located at 290 South Downing St., Denver. It is open for takeout every day from 11 a.m. –  7 p.m. 

Recipe: Choose-Your-Adventure Jelly Sour

Add to a shaker: 
2 oz whiskey 
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice 
1 tbsp jelly/jam of your choice
the white from one egg 

Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 60 seconds — pro tip: play Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” while shaking. Strain liquid and discard ice. Shake again for another 30 seconds — pro tip: play Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out” while shaking. Strain into your favorite glass and enjoy.

Obviously sweetness will vary from one jelly/jam/preserve to the next so when building the drink in your mixing glass give the ingredients a stir before adding the egg white and taste for balance. If you want it sweeter, add more jelly. Want it a little zippier? Add a little more lemon juice.

Before you juice the lemons zest those suckers, add the zest to some vodka and seal it up. You may need some Limocello down the road.

Reason: I’m guessing most folks, like myself, have some jelly/jam kicking around the fridge. This is a very basic egg white sour recipe that will work with most any that you’ve got. This does require folks to separate the whites of eggs from the yolks but the bonus recipe from Chef Ty is good for a basic make-at-home pasta dough so you can put those to good use.

BONUS: Basic Make-At-Home Pasta Recipe (Using Leftover Egg Yoks from Cocktails)
7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt

Mix together the flour and half of the yolks, oil and salt. Add the rest of the yolks one at a time until combined. Knead for an additional five minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest. Roll out the dough and cut to your desired shape. Voila.

Venmo Handle: @Austin-Carson-1. All tips will go directly to Restaurant Olivia staff.

Jake Sutton – Stay at Home Bartender

Location: @stayathomebartender

Recipe: Boulevardier

2 oz Old Overholt rye
1 oz Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth
1 oz Campari

Reason: It’s no secret that I’m a huge Negroni fan, but I thought I’d suggest the Boulevardier for our homebound friends. The Boulevardier is a whiskey-based Negroni variation, typically made either with a standard 1:1:1 ratio or with an extra half ounce of whiskey. I prefer a bold rye whiskey, generally. Since making drinks at home, by definition, means you can treat yourself, and because I like my cocktails to be spirit-forward, I bump the drink up to 4 ounces.

Venmo Handle: Sutton asked that anyone hoping to tip donate to USBG.

Lance Bender – Wine Buyer at Japango

Photo courtesy of Lance Bender.

Location: Japango is located at 1136 Pearl St., Boulder. It is open for takeout every day 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Recipe: Apparent Sour

2 oz Aperol 
1 oz St. Germaine 
1 oz fresh lime juice 
Combine and shake with ice for 8-12 seconds. Serve up. Consume quickly and often. 

Reason: Taxonomically, it’s a modified Aperol Sour. You can call it whatever, it’s delicious. It’s a low ABV cocktail, so you can drink many while keeping your wits about you. I often switch the lime juice out for lemon juice or use half of each. I picked this drink for its session-ability. It’s aromatic, crisp, full of flavor and doesn’t become cloying as you repeatedly imbibe. It would appeal to lovers of the Aperol Spritz, as well as anyone who isn’t stupid.

Venmo Handle: @Francesca-Bernardi

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