Whether it’s a prelude to dinner or a gathering of friends and family, when you want to order a beverage and an appetizer, a spectrum of restaurants are ready to add festive flavor to your holiday dining. Take the guesswork out of ordering with these restaurants and their recommended pairings. Want to extend the party? With accompanying recipes, you can enjoy your favorites at home.
Union Station, Denver; cooperlounge.com
Union Station decked out for the holidays? Yes, please. Feeling stylish and celebratory? Make tracks to The Cooper Lounge, hands down.
Sage Advice, $14
1.5 oz Prairie Organic Gin
1/2 oz Leopold Bros. Cranberry
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz sage-infused honey syrup (directions below)
Q Brand soda water (available at Whole Foods)
To make sage-infused honey syrup, boil 1 quart of water. Stir in 2 cups of honey until honey dissolves. Add 1 ounce fresh sage; let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into tall glass with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a fresh sage leaf.
Pair with: Stuffed Quail with sausage and date filling, served over baby asparagus, sage butter-basted. $15
Four Seasons Resort and Residences, Vail; fourseasons.com/vail
Sleek digs meet majestic mountains, where beverage director Steven Teaver incorporates non-alcoholic Spiced Tart Cherry Syrup into Remedy’s signature holiday drinks. Substitute for another simple syrup, or use in your favorite champagne cocktail or Old Fashioned.
Cherry Spiced Champagne Cocktail, $14
3/4 oz Tart Cherry Syrup
4.5 oz Champagne
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a champagne flute or wine glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Spiced Tart Cherry Syrup
32 oz tart cherry juice
10 whole cloves
5 whole star anise pods
5 whole allspice berries
1 ½ cups sugar
Combine all ingredients, minus the sugar, in a saucepan and bring to a hard simmer. Once simmering, stir in sugar until dissolved. Return to a simmer and reduce by one-third. Strain and bottle. The syrup will keep for up to a month refrigerated.
Pair with: Hippie Liver: Seared foie gras, brioche and duck fat granola. $28
RiNo, Denver; mistertuna.com
Troy Guard’s newest venue injects Hawaiian tropical warmth into any winter celebration. Charred octopus? Says Chef Tristen Epps, “While octopus might seem wildly unexpected, the flavors of pumpkin, along with the cinnamon and cherry in the Old Fashioned, come together to create that familiar holiday feeling.”
Okinawa Old Fashioned, $15
2.5 oz Charcoal Iwai Whiskey
1/2 oz Demerara simple syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
1 hand-carved large ice cube
1 charred cinnamon stick
2 Luxardo cherries
1 rose petal
Fill a Yarai mixing glass with ice half-way. Add whiskey and Demerara simple syrup, bitters, and stir. Strain into double Old Fashioned glass over ice cube, add garnishes.
Pair with: Charred BBQ Octopus with chili pumpkin puree, black gochujang BBQ sauce and zhug. $16
Cherry Creek, Denver; elways.com
The original Elway’s steakhouse embodies the concept of a club-like atmosphere, and running into John Elway plus past and current Denver Broncos is always a possibility. Add Cherry Creek’s surrounding sparkle fest and it’s a big win for the holidays.
Orange Blossom, $12
1 oz Ketel One Orange/Peach Botanical
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Combine Ketel One Botanical, Aperol and lemon juice with ice in a shaker and strain into champagne glass. Top with champagne and garnish with fresh orange peel.
Pair with: Tuna Tartare: Yellowfin tuna, scallion guacamole, Yuzu ponzu, creamy spicy aioli and wasabi crema. $23.50
Golden Triangle, Denver; thearthotel.com
Name the 2017 No. 1 hotel in Colorado in Conde Nast Traveler “Readers’ Choice” awards, the Art decks its halls with creative style and offers artful cuisine. Augmented by views of downtown Denver, the fourth floor restaurant and terrace firepit radiate contemporary good cheer.
Good Hunting, $11
3/4 oz Knob Creek Rye
3/4 oz Remy Martin 1703 VSOP
3/4 oz Drambuie
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Barrel-Aged Angostura
11 granules hickory-smoked Himalayan sea salt
Served stirred or on the rocks in a double rocks glass and garnish with Manicured Flamed Orange Swath.
Pair with: Crispy Brussels Sprouts topped with goat cheese, pine nuts, golden raisins, lemon basil emulsion. $8
Downtown, Denver; brownpalace.com
Holiday spirit lives here along with first-class elegance, tradition and luxury. For a festive occasion when you’re dressed to the nines, it’s a given you’re going to the iconic Brown Palace, a perennial downtown Denver landmark.
Harvest Shrub & Bubbles, $13
1 oz Calvados
1 oz Harvest Shrub
3 oz Brut Sparkling Wine
In a champagne flute, combine Calvados with of Harvest Shrub, stir to combine ingredients and top with Mumm Napa Brut Sparkling wine, float star anise garnish on the top of the cocktail.
Pair with: Lobster and Artichoke Arancini with sun-dried tomato pesto and basil. Available at Ship Tavern, Churchill and Afternoon Tea. $18
16th Street Mall, Denver; rialtocafe.com
Always a festive place for people-watching, Rialto’s boisterous atmosphere, food favorites and reasonable prices combine to up the ante during the holidays—an ideal spot for festive groups and gatherings.
Toasted Pecan Old Fashioned, $9.95
2 oz Pecan Infused Tap 8 Rye (directions below)
1/4 oz Demerara sugar simple syrup
2-3 dashes pecan bitters or Angostura Bitters
Lemon peel garnish
For pecan-infused rye, lightly toast 1/2 cup pecans. Combine 750ml of rye with pecans and leave to infuse for at least one week, two weeks is preferred. Strain before using.
Put the rye, bitters and Demerara simple syrup into a glass and stir. Strain into a glass with Ice (preferably one large cube), and use a lemon twist as a garnish.
Pair with: Brie Spread $7.95 (recipe below) and Bacon Wrap Stuffed Dates: Pitted dates, bacon and goat cheese. $8.95
You will need Brie cheese, a soft baguette, some cranberry sauce and micro greens.
Cut soft baguette into 1/4-inch slices and bake in a 350-degree oven for three minutes or until lightly toasted. Let slices cool, then spread the brie evenly on the toasted slices. Top with cranberry sauce and micro greens.
Vail Village, Vail; sonnenalp.com
Feeling sweet instead of savory? Indulge in Sonnenalp’s recommended signature holiday beverage and shareable dessert. It’s easy to linger with sumptuous fare in an upscale-cozy atmosphere.
Gluehwein (Mulled Wine), $14
1 bottle red or white wine
Packaged mulled wine spices
3 orange slices
3 lemon slices
Rock candy stick
Pour the wine into a saucepan. Add the Gluehwein spices, the orange and lemon slices as well as the rum caramel. Bring everything to a boil and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain the Gluehwein into a mug. If you prefer sweeter Gluehwein, stir your beverage with the rock candy stick.
(Gluten free | Soy free)
Pair with: Bavarian Cream Pie (to share): Layers of Frangipane, chocolate mousse, Bavarian filling, amaretto-infused cream. $14
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