5 Denver Bartenders Share Their Cocktail Recipes to Try at Home – Part X

This week we are returning for our 10th and final edition of a series that has illustrated an extensive range of cocktails from some of the best and most creative drinking minds found across the front range. Below are five more drinks including straightforward classics, subtle innovations and luxurious creations. Go here for week oneweek two, week threeweek four, week fiveweek six, week seven, week eight and week nine here.

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. 

Mike Simms – Bartender at Room for Milly

Soul Plane. Photo by Mike Simms.

Location: Room for Milly is located at 1615 Platte St. Suite 145, Denver. It is currently closed but is offering weekly cocktail classes with to-go kits.

Recipe: Soul Plane (Paper Plane Riff)

3/4 oz chamomile rye (Old Overholt or Rittenhouse)
3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
3/4 oz honey-infused Aperol
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice 
Shaken, then double strained. Orange or lemon peel expression 

Chamomile Rye Recipe

Add 10-12 tablespoons of chamomile flowers to your preferred bottle of rye. I say the spicier the rye the better. And let that sit for about 24 hours. Then strain and filter.

Honey-Infused Aperol 

Make a 1:1 honey syrup.

Then mix with Aperol at a 2:1 ratio of Aperol to syrup. Feel free to adjust the ratio for sweet to bitter.

Reason: I have always loved the simplicity of the Paper Plane build and created this version a couple years ago purely out boredom at home and sifting through stuff I had in my kitchen.  This is just a very well balanced and relatively low abv build that utilizes some pretty basic ingredients and creates a light, simple and refreshing yet nuanced cocktail.

Venmo Handle: Mike-S-99, Instagram: considerthebear


Robert Clark – Bar Lead at Basta

Highball. Courtesy of Robert Clark.

Location: Basta is located at 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. It is currently open for to-go orders Wednesday – Saturday 4 – 8 p.m.

Recipe: Highball

1 1/2 oz whiskey
4 /12 oz Topo Chico
1/2 oz Umeshu (plum liqueur)

The highball cocktail is typically pretty simple, but you need to make sure you’re using a whiskey you really enjoy, as they become very pronounced. I like using A.D. Laws Centennial Wheat Whiskey or Atticus Jones Rye. 

In a highball glass, pour whiskey and Topo Chico over ice. For extra credit, add Umeshu (plum liqueur) and a small amount of saline or a very light pinch of salt. Garnish with a thin lemon wheel.

The important part of the highball is how you mix it. Using a bar spoon, gently lift the ice while you stir slowly. This lets the ingredients incorporate, but doesn’t flatten the sparkling water.

Reason: I appreciate the drink because it transforms whiskey into a format that can be enjoyed for a longer period of time and lightens the flavor in a way that allows for it to function better with food. A few whiskeys with dinner can ruin your meal, and arguably the experience. But one can drink highballs all evening without dampening the next day.

Venmo Handle: @Sushi_Kitten

Jon Mateer – Bartender at Death and Co.

Jon Mateer and fiance Jessica Coleman. Photo by 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: Negroni

1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth de Torino
garnish with an orange half-moon
The perfect “stay-at-home” cocktail. You can make a bunch of these in advance and keep it stored in your fridge. Just mix equal parts of each ingredient into a pitcher and pour three ounces into your rocks glass over a large ice cube — or whatever you have available.  Just remember to stir it before pouring into your glass!

Reason: I remember my first experience with this drink. It was during my first month of bartending — almost 10 years ago — and my manager had asked me to come up with a drink for a new menu. I got super excited. I went out and bought a bunch of bottles, spent hours making drinks at home for my friends, and thought that I had come up with a winning recipe. I walked in super confident to the staff meeting and was so excited that I had come up with a delicious drink that was only three ingredients. I stirred it up and served it to the owners, bar manager and the rest of the staff. My bar manager takes a sip, looks me directly in the eye, and says “That’s delicious! But you do realize that all you did was make a negroni.” I’ll never forget that day. I make these at home all of the time for my fiancé and I — and to this day, it’s still my favorite cocktail.

Venmo Handle:@JTMateer


Maya Wilson – Bartender at The Wolf’s Tailor

Wolf’s Mojito. Photo by Katie Bonneau.

Location: The Wolf’s Tailor is located at 4058 Tejon St., Denver. It is currently open for take-out Wednesday – Saturday 4 – 8 p.m.

Recipe: Wolf’s Mojito

1 oz white rum (currently using Montanya Platino)
1 oz sake (Bushido Way of the Warrior)
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz 1:1 mint simple syrup
1 dash of angostura bitters
top with soda water and garnish with fresh mint

Reason: I love this drink because it is simple and classic and reminds me of days on the beach when traveling. The addition of sake brings a whole other layer to the drink without throwing it off balance. It’s important to use fresh mint for the syrup and the garnish, it makes the biggest difference.

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


Saydee Hopkins – Bar Manager at Williams and Graham

Saydee Hopkins. Photo courtesy of Saydee Hopkins.

Location: Williams and Graham is located at 3160 Tejon St., Denver. It is currently open for pick-up and delivery Friday – Saturday 5 – 9 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Recipe: Ramona Flowers

1 1/2 oz Junmai sake
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz Leopold Bros Tart Cherry Liqueur
1/4 oz Leopold Bros Navy Strength Gin
In a shaker tin, add all ingredients and shake for a short time as this drink does not need a ton of dilution. Strain into a champagne flute and garnish with your choice of an edible flower. 

Reason: The drink was originally force-carbonated but this is not necessary, as it is tasty either way. This seems to be the cocktail I come back to the most, it’s definitely the one that I recommend frequently when people ask me what to make at home. This is the first cocktail I ever created when I started working at Williams and Graham — six years ago —  with the help of my two most predominant mentors Allison Widdecombe and Christina Andrews. I was having a hard time coming up with something for the spring menu when Christina asked me what I think about when I think “spring.” My immediate answer was cherry blossoms and we started throwing around ingredients and ideas that would make a cherry blossom drink. Allison helped me to balance the drink as I still had no idea what the heck I was doing.

It’s a simple, refreshing cocktail that I would hope makes you feel like you are sipping an exotic Japanese sake underneath a blooming cherry blossom in the full swing of spring.
Venmo Handle: @Saydeelea

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