5 Denver Bartenders Share Their Cocktail Recipes to Try at Home

We are back with week eight of our ongoing series highlighting the finest talent in local cocktail craftsmanship. This round sees an array of bright, fruit and vegetable-forward drinks built for long, languorous hours spent safely outdoors. Go here for week oneweek two, week threeweek four, week fiveweek six and week seven 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. 

Becky Rose – Bartender at Queens Eleven

Becky Rose. Photo by Nicole Pacha.

Location: Queens Eleven is located at 3603 Walnut St., Denver. It is currently closed. Sister coffee shop Blue Sparrow is open for take-out, with sister bar Room for Milly offering weekly cocktail classes.

Recipe: Bangarang!

1 oz dark rum, bonded bourbon or rye
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1/2 oz banana liqueur
1/2 oz Becherovka
whole egg
Shake all ingredients in a tin, serve up with a little dark chocolate grated over the top or a mint sprig.

Reason: This was the very first cocktail I ever imagined, late one night after a long shift when I was craving a chocolate banana. I chose to share this particular one as my quarantine cocktail because of the flexibility, decadence and ease of it. Depending on if you go with the rum or whiskey, the spicy, slightly minty Becherovka will highlight different aspects of your base. Don’t have creme de cacao? Use a little chocolate syrup, or make a quick 1:1 simple syrup with brown sugar and dive into bananas foster in a glass. Right now it is all about working with what we have and finding the little daily pleasures. This cocktail is boozy, rich, and hits that fine line between dessert and after-dinner drink that’s my favorite treat yo’ self moment. Not to mention, something about using the whole egg definitely helps ease any responsibly acquired hangovers I may have the next morning.

Venmo Handle: @REBECCA-WESNIDGE

Keegan Labrador – Bar Manager at Señor Bear

Mango y Michelada. Photo by Dalia Labrador.

Location: Señor Bear is located at 3301 Tejon St., Denver. It is open Sunday – Thursday 4 – 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Recipe: Mango y Michelada

A salty, sour and sweet twist on the traditional Mexican Michelada

1 oz blanco tequila (preferably Roca Patron Silver)
1 oz mango-infused mango liqueur* (preferably Patron Citronage Mango)
1/2 oz agave
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz lime juice
Mexican lager
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake hard. Strain into a pint glass and top with your favorite Mexican lager — leave room for ice. Add ice and the booze-soaked mango and peppercorn pieces from the infusion. Smile and enjoy.
*Salty Mango Infused Mango Liqueur
Peel one mango — green, sour, slightly unripe mangos work best — and chop it into pieces. In a Mason jar or other non-reactive container, combine the mango pieces, six ounces of mango liqueur, 25 black peppercorns a teaspoon of salt — Tajin works great — and 1/2 ounce each lemon and lime juice. Let the infusion sit for at least one day and up to five days — agitate periodically by shaking jar. Strain, keeping the mangos and peppercorn for later use, then label the infusion and store in the fridge — best if used within one month.

Reason: This is a fun, fresh cocktail perfect for spring. I first discovered this drink while vacationing on the beach of Salinas, Ecuador and it’s been a favorite since.

Venmo Handle: @Keegan-Labrador

Simon Vazquez – Bartender at Quality Italian and Brand Ambassador for Laws Whiskey

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Location: Quality Italian is located at 241 Columbine St., Denver. It is open for take-out, curbside pick up and delivery Tuesday – Saturday 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Recipe: Oooooh My

2 oz Laws Wheat Whiskey (or your favorite wheat bourbon) 
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz maple syrup
3 apple slices
1 pinch ground cinnamon 
In a cocktail shaker, combine apple slices, cinnamon and lemon juice. Muddle together until apple slices are pulverized, then add the rest of the ingredients to the shaker — if you don’t own a muddler, mash with the bottom of a spoon or ladle. Top ingredients with ice, and shake for 20-30 seconds. Double-strain over fresh ice cubes in whatever glass you have available. Garnish with an apple slice sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Reason: Apples seem to be one of the most ubiquitous fruits to be found in kitchens, so what better to base our cocktail with. A couple of other household ingredients, combined with a pour out of your favorite bottle of whiskey and you’ve got yourself a cocktail for all occasions. Most whiskeys should work for this, but I prefer a softer, more mellow whiskey, and Laws is a local favorite. This cocktail should treat you right whether you’re sitting on a patio in the sun, or cozying up to a roaring fire.

Venmo Handle: Vazquez asked that anyone hoping to tip donate to The Food Bank of the Rockies

Katie Kelly – Bar Manager at Barolo Grill

The Italian Rabbit. Photo by Katie Kelly.

Location: Barolo Grill is located at 3030 East 6th Ave., Denver. It is open Tuesday – Thursday 4 – 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 4 – 8:30 p.m.

Recipe: The Italian Rabbit

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz Aperol
3/4 oz carrot juice (freshly juiced is best if you have a juicer)
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 tsp ginger syrup (I use Fiji Ginger Syrup by The Ginger People, available at Sprouts and Whole Foods, same section as maple syrup)
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, or a mason jar with lid if you don’t have a shaker. Add all ingredients, shake well and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with any of the following — a carrot frond, an edible flower (chamomile flowers are especially nice) or a lemon twist. 

Reason: I love using ingredients in season, plus the carrots in this cocktail make me feel like I’m being a touch more healthy and we all need every bit of health we can get right now. I put this on the Barolo Grill cocktail list every spring, but since it’s best enjoyed immediately, we can’t offer batched versions. I hope to make this for you when we safely reopen the bar — until then enjoy this cocktail from the comfort of your home, yard or spring garden.

Venmo Handle: @K-Kelly-10

Makeda Gebre – Bartender at Citizen Rail

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Location: Citizen Rail is located at 1899 16th St. Mall, Denver. It is currently closed.

Recipe: “Before You Go Go”

1 1/2 oz Bacardi Anejo
1/2 oz Combier Liqueur de Banane
1 oz nitro cold brew
1/2 oz honey syrup (1:1 Colorado local honey to water)
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 ripe banana, smashed
5 dashes Fees Brothers Toasted Almond Bitters
1 egg white
Glassware: Coupe
Method: wet shake, dry shake.
Garnish: Banana chunk dipped in caramelized sugar.

Reason: I wanted to create a riff on the classic Whiskey Sour, something bright and fruit-forward with a creamy texture — due to the banana and egg white. Considering most people are learning a new craft during quarantine, baking being a big one, these ingredients should be readily accessible for any banana bread connoisseur. This classic spin-off “Before You Go Go” can be enjoyed any time of the day but is best served with breakfast. Drink responsibly, video-chat your friends and wash your hands.

Venmo Handle: @makeda-gebre, Instagram:@fashionedcocktails