Sharing is caring

Or is it? Boulder’s happy hour scene shuns shareable cocktail trend

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For better or worse, we live in a culture of sharing. We share our photos, our statuses, our relationship highs and lows, favorite recipes, workouts, selfies, DIY projects and even our meals. The rise of the Internet tapped into our innately social mindset, lit a fuse under it and exploded it across our screens for all to see. It’s no surprise the sharing mentality would eventually permeate our lives offline, as well.

Workplaces encourage carpooling; housing developments are designed to incorporate shared common areas; foodies queue up outside restaurants to gorge on shared plates; and now, in growing popularity across the country, we can share our cocktails.

Shareable cocktails, drinks large enough to split amongst friends, are a hot trend in bars across the country and even overseas. Cocktails might arrive at the table in hollowed out watermelons or pineapples, glass skulls, giant silver flasks, ornate teapots, French presses, wooden moai cups or creative glassware. Watching the waiter set the impressive drink down on the table is a fun experience. Other tables glance over and raise their hand to order the same. The adventure inspires camaraderie and fun conversation.

But it’s not just the sociability of the experience that has increased the marketability of the trend. The price point isn’t too bad either. While a $40 price tag may seem daunting at first, once split amongst four or more friends, the drink in one’s hands happily costs less than a single specialty cocktail or pint of craft brew. Cheaper drinks means a longer night of fun and the ability to go out more often. 

With the positives of such an experience, why then has the shareable cocktail trend not reached the bars and restaurants of Boulder? One can find the occasional pitcher of sangria or mojitos, but nothing that speaks to the craft cocktail scene. Group drinks are only recently trickling into the Denver bars with a few locations such as Steuben’s and Punch Bowl Social providing crowds with shared drinks, but nothing that rivals what can be found in LA, D.C., Boston, Chicago, New York and even Portland.

Some Boulder proprietors chuckle and shake their heads when thinking about storage space for large glassware. The Riverside bartender, Peter Beihoffer, suggests that perhaps it’s a trend more suited to college bars, noting the fishbowls at The Walrus as an example. Stanley Usinowicz, beverage director of Japango, describes the population of Boulder as one focused on healthy, conscious living which he feels may contribute to “the abstinence of more frivolous behavior in consumptive pursuits.”

But Tim Wormser, also a bartender at The Riverside, offers another viewpoint.

“In Boulder, we don’t have as many shareable cocktails because people are so into the happy hour scene,” Tim notes as he points out the Meetup group gathering around us. “It’s a bunch of people who don’t know each other and just met getting drinks together.”

The vast number of networking happy hours in Boulder is staggering. Professionals of all ages and ilk gather each day to get to know one another and talk business — and strangers don’t typically want to share a cocktail. They prefer ordering and paying for their own drink. 

But Wormser feels there is room in Boulder for the shareable cocktail trend, “but no one has taken the initiative.” Perhaps if one establishment added creative shared drinks to their menu, in keeping with the high level of art that individuals such as Usinowicz value, then that’s all it would take in Boulder’s competitive restaurant world — the others would follow suit.

Whatever the reason behind Boulder’s lack of involvement in the trend, local bartenders and proprietors seem split on the idea of incorporating the experience. Perhaps the shared cocktail scene will bypass the area, and, like a good little hipster, Boulder will simply continue to curl its mustache and stay trendy by avoiding the trends.