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Thursday, April 28,2011

Best of Boulder County 2011 - Drinks

By Boulder Weekly Staff


Mountain Sun/Southern Sun

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

Runner-up: Oskar Blues

Mountain Sun and Southern Sun Pub and Brewery have the best beer selection in town, and everyone seems to know it. Perpetually packed throughout the week, it can sometimes be difficult to find a table — or even a comfy spot at the bar — at either location. But a hearty meal, and a couple of fine crafted quality beers, are always well worth the wait. Each pub offers a brew for every beer-lover, from wheats and stouts to IPAs. After a hard day at work, there’s nothing quite like spending time with a few friends and indulging in a Belgian Dip Chocolate Stout, a Blackberry Wheat, or a light and flavorful Quinn’s Golden Ale. Snagging second are the rich craft brews at Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, and coming in third is Old Chicago with its tour of beers from around the world. Walnut Brewery takes home fourth-place honors, and Backcountry Pizza, which just recently expended from Nederland into Boulder, took fifth place.


Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Runner-up: Pekoe

According to ancient legend, chai tea was first brewed as a healing elixir by a king in the courts of India and later became frequently used in the tradition of “ayurveda” alternative medicine in the East. But now, chai tea is as common as a Subaru on the streets of Boulder: Every college hipster and aging hippie is familiar with the drink. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, this year’s winner of the Best Chai Drink, has a particularly delicious assortment. Their silky chai blends are both caffeinated and decaffeinated and brewed in-house. Whether you’ve got a backpack or bike helmet in hand and are looking for a chai fix, this teahouse is an excellent choice. Our runner-up is the Pekoe Sip House, while third place goes to the Laughing Goat Coffeehouse. Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant and Bar was chosen fourth, and Ozo Coffee came in fifth place.


Bhakti Chai


Runner-up: Third Street Chai

First brewed in a single house in Nederland, Bhakti Chai has grown to find its way to chai-lovers throughout the nation. This “special” chai has a uniquely spicy taste and is made with a blend of ingredients intended to invigorate the mind and body. Using black tea, organic ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and fennel, Bhakti offers a wide variety of health benefits — from improved digestion and circulation to a healthier heart, liver and lungs. Bhakti can be found in local stores like Whole Foods Markets and is served in various cafés throughout Boulder. The chai-obsessed might also consider ordering Bhakti online. Locally brewed Third Street Chai comes in second for the county’s best chai manufacturer, with a sweeter blend for those not so keen on a strong ginger flavor.


The Laughing Goat

1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628

Norlin Library, 1720 Pleasant St.

Runner-up: Ozo

The switch from wine to coffee has been credited with sparking the French Revolution. Yeah, caffeine is powerful stuff. Though we’re bit a less dramatic when we load up on caffeine, our devotion to the brew is equally fanatical. Coffee shops are places to congregate, interact with fellow thinkers or just relax and read your favorite newspaper. The Laughing Goat encompasses all these aspects and more, with ample seating, wi-fi and fantastic coffee made by the Kaladi Brothers of Denver. It also offers live music seven days a week, and its happy hour booze specials are not to be missed. Ozo and its delicious, practically avant-garde coffees come in second, and Vic’s, Starbucks and Amante take the third, fourth and fifth spots.


The Mediterranean Restaurant

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Runner-up: Boulder Café

The happiest part about The Mediterranean Restaurant’s Tapas Hour is that it lasts for three and a half — every day of the week. Notable for its $4 red and white sangrias and similarly priced well cocktails and featured wines, this colorful spot routinely attracts hordes of ravenous Boulderites. Whatever the weather, the restaurant’s “tapas calientes” and “tapas frias” are sure to satisfy palates with options like mussels steamed with choice of lemon and garlic or adobado and prosciutto-wrapped melon and Parmesan Reggiano. For patrons who prefer people watching to prosciutto, the Boulder Café takes second place in the polls and offers a patio and top shelf happy hour from 3 p.m. to close every day during the winter months. Enjoy seasonal oysters and alpine fondue with a half-priced local brew during the time where gluttony is glory. Braserrie Ten Ten was voted third, Mountain Sun/Southern Sun fourth, and Laudisio fifth.


Ozo Coffee

5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-440-0233

1015 Pearl St., 303-645-4885

Runner-up: The Laughing Goat

Lattes are probably the most popular way to drink coffee, which means there was a lot of competition this year in the best latte category. The drink is simply steamed-milk and espresso, with varying amounts of frothy milk thrown in for decoration, and the proper Italian name is caffè latte, which literally means “coffee-milk.” In a heated vote, our readers gave Ozo Coffee the nod. Ozo Coffee roasts some of the most creative coffees in town, and reading about their coffees is like being in a wine bar, with descriptions like “big, syrupy mouthfeel” and “mild acidity and silky body” peppering the menu. Their baristas are true coffee nerds, able to navigate the surprisingly complex chemical processes required to use advanced espresso machines and pull the perfect draw, all adding up to the best latte you’ve ever tasted. Our voters chose The Laughing Goat’s impeccable lattes for the runner-up spot. Amante Coffee, known for their Italian flair, love of cyling and great lattes took third. The ubiquitous Starbuck’s took fourth place, the always delicious Vic’s snagged fifth place.


Jamba Juice

4760 Baseline Rd., 303-499-4760

3053 Arapahoe Ave., 303-247-1170

1695 29th St., 720-565-0407

3325 28th St., 303-938-1271

University Memorial Center, CU campus

Runner-up: Rush

In the midst of a long, stressful day, nothing sounds more refreshing than a fruit smoothie. As your mood begins to brighten after taking your first cooling sip of a Jamba Juice smoothie, you also pat yourself on the back for choosing the healthier alternative to your average milkshake. With smoothie names like Five Fruit Frenzy, Pomegranate Paradise and Mango-a-go-go, plus any amount of added boosts, such as protein, vitamins or energy, Jamba Juice will make you feel ready to tackle the rest of your day. This is after the cashier politely told you how to (finally) pronounce acai (Ah-Sigh-EE) correctly. If you are craving a heartier smoothie, the runner-up Rush will satisfy your hunger with one of their signature rush bowls, a fruit blend topped with granola and honey. Third-place winner Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato will cure your fruit craving with smoothies made from their homemade sorbets and yogurts. Fourth place goes to The Berry Best Smoothie Company, and fifth place goes to Inta Juice Fruit Smoothies.


Rio Grande

1101 Walnut St., 303-444-3690

Runner-up: Zolo Grill

Was there ever any doubt? We once heard a longtime Rio Grande barfly (OK, he’s an immediate family member) exclaim, after being presented with a menu, “You mean this place serves food, too?” That’s how amazing the margaritas are. You forget about the enchiladas. And don’t call them “ritas,” because we’ll know you are from Texas. How many other places have a sign proclaiming “Limit 3”? Trust us, if you have three of these bad boys, you won’t be drinking anywhere else without regretting it somehow. And they go down smooth. This is one of those must-hit places when you want to spend a night celebrating with friends. During the summer, the rooftop deck only adds to the experience. The perennially popular Zolo Grill, with its expansive selection of top shelf tequilas, is this year’s runner-up, followed by Tahona in third. Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant took fourth place, and Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace was in fifth place.


The Kitchen

1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973

Runner-up: Jax Fish House

Shaken, stirred or… sustainable? The Kitchen has mastered the simplicity of comfortable classics and farm-to-table dining and applies the same thought process to martinis as they do the menu. The lychee martini is made with Tito’s vodka, an organic, gluten-free option made in Austin, Texas, lime and lychee, an obscure fruit, technically a nut, found in Asian markets. The complexity of the lychee compliments the straightforward nature of The Kitchen’s approach to beverages. For people who enjoy their drinks on the sweeter side, the Persian Lemon martini is made from pama liqueur, Ketle one citron and served with pineapple, lemon and, of course, a sugared rim. For sips that are always sophisticated and sometimes sweet, The Kitchen is Boulder’s choice for martinis that tantalize. Runner-up Jax Fish House also serves a mean martini, and be sure to check out third-place Bacaro Venetian Taverna, fourth-place the Corner Bar and fifth-place Restaurant 4580 in North Boulder.


Mountain Sun/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

Runner-up: Avery Brewing Co.

Like the voters, we’re kind of partial to Mountain Sun and Southern Sun brew pubs, and not just because the latter is across the street and is Boulder Weekly’s unofficial watering hole. In addition to their mighty fine brews, we kind of like the idea that they are committed to keeping televisions out so that the emphasis is on conversation and community. What a concept! The Suns have collected six gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival over the years, so you know the liquids are tasty. And don’t even get us started on the burgers at the Southern branch. Another longtime local favorite, the Avery Brewing Co., took runner-up in this category, with Oskar Blues placing third, Left Hand Brewing Co. in the fourth slot and Walnut Brewery in fifth.


Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Runner-up: Pekoe

At first glance, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse’s collage of colors can almost seem unreal. But take a closer look, and you can see the building’s puzzle-like nature: each column and corner carefully crafted and painted by craftsmen in our sister city to fit together neatly. Like the building’s architecture, the tea menu stretches across the color and flavor spectrum. On the menu are various black, green, oolong and herbal teas; and for the avid tea-drinker, the teahouse also sells packaged tea, as well as at-home brewing accessories. Taking runner-up honors this year, with three locations across Boulder, is Pekoe Sip House, known for its unique drink blends. Taking third is the Boulder-born Celestial Seasonings. Ku Cha House of Tea is fourth, and The Huckleberry rounds out the top five in fifth place.


Frasca Food and Wine

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Runner-up: Flagstaff House

In the entire world, according to the grandly named Court of Master Sommeliers, there are 180 wine experts who have attained the elite title of “master.” In order to earn the appellation, one must demonstrate a masterly knowledge of how to properly serve wine and display encyclopedic know-how of where and how wine is made. But what really separates the two-buck-Chucks from the 200-buck-Joseph Phelps is the blind taste test, where one blindly tastes six glasses of wine and, within 25 minutes, must identify what type of wine it is, where it came from and what year it was made. That’s why the title is so rare, and why Frasca Food and Wine is lucky to boast master sommelier Bobby Stuckey as co-owner. With an expert like Stuckey micromanaging the list, other restaurants never stood a chance. The Flagstaff House and its internationally acclaimed wine list is this year’s runner-up. The Kitchen took third, with The Mediterranean Restaurant in fourth, and Laudisio and The Cork tied for fifth.

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