Best of Boulder 2018 — Drink

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Marguerite Behringer, bartender at boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, pours a drink.
Sue France

Teahouse

BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Silver: Ku Cha House of Tea

Bronze: Pekoe Sip House

Afternoon tea isn’t something reserved for a trip to The Plaza in New York or the Dorchester in London. And it isn’t something to only experience on vacation. Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, right here in Colorado, offers all the frills (think white table linens and tiered serving plates) of an elegant afternoon tea. At all other times, they offer a long list of hand-plucked teas, with white, green, oolong and black varieties. Tea is a 5,000-year-old drink and drinking it in the iconic Dushanbe building imported from Tajikistan takes the cake.

Sue France
at Rio Grande mexican restaurant, Stevie Heffington loves the margaritas.

Margarita

RIO GRANDE MEXICAN RESTAURANT

1101 Walnut St., 303-444-3690

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Bronze: T|aco an urban taqueria

Write-in: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

What makes a great margarita? Well, it starts off with fresh lime juice, a bit of orange liqueur and a splash of simple syrup. Oh, then there’s good tequila. Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant is serving up our readers’ favorite margaritas because they stick to the recipe, simple as the syrup that goes in them. But they also add strawberry, mango and manberry (mango plus strawberry) if you want. Maybe a spot of muddled jalapeno to heat up your marg, or a bit of Grand Marnier and an olive for a martini twist. It’s hard to improve on perfection, but the Rio has done it with their Front Range-famous margs.

Juice/Smoothie

JAMBA JUICE

1695 29th St., Suite 1256, 720-565-0407

1669 Euclid Ave., 303-449-5245

3053 Arapahoe Ave., 303-247-1170

Silver: Wonder Press

Bronze: Alfalfa’s Market

The smoothie: As fun to say as it is to drink. The best part is, it’s a relatively nutritious snack or meal. Our readers say Jamba Juice is their go-to spot for smoothies and juices. Their expansive menu and unique creations likely call out to our local juiceheads. You can’t beat the consistency that Jamba Juice brings to the smoothie world. Whether you’re craving something after a workout, a light breakfast or a sweet treat, Jamba Juice is the place to go to have fruits, vegetables, grasses, powders and more put into a blender, blended, poured into a cup and then consumed.

Sue France
Brook Eddy of Bhakti Chai enjoys one of her company’s refreshing drinks.

Chai

BHAKTI CHAI

939 Pearl St., Suite 200, 303-484-8770

Silver: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Bronze: Sherpa Chai

Write-in: Sanctuary Chai

In Sanskrit, Bhakti loosely translates to “devotion through social action.” When Brook Eddy, Bhakti Chai’s mastermind, stumbled across this concept while traveling in India, she was immediately attracted to its potential. Sharing cups of spicy Indian chai with local families and communities, she heard story after story about how such social action changed lives and communities. When Eddy returned to the U.S., she brought with her the idea of Bhakti, along with serious tea-brewing skills, and founded a tea company in the concept’s honor. A portion of all proceeds are donated to social action campaigns. Find concentrates, ready-to-drink bottles or dry tea bags at grocery stores around the county, or visit one of the many cafes that carry Bhakti chais to indulge in the sweet-spicy drinks’ taste and feel-good social impact.

Latte/Mocha

OZO COFFEE COMPANY

5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-440-0233

1015 Pearl St., 303-645-4885

1898 S. Flatiron Court, Suite 110,

303-396-0302

1232-A S. Hover Road, Longmont,

720-600-6689

Silver: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Bronze: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Write-in: Ziggi’s Coffee

You want a latte. We’re not asking, we’re telling you. There is no wrong time for a latte, and our readers say Ozo Coffee Company is the place to go to have one. Their highly skilled baristas are adept at creating tasty, beautiful, silky lattes that are sure to warm you up and get you pumped. Ozo can of course address your culinary restrictions and sensitivities, and leave with you something wholly satisfying. Their mocha is also to-die-for, rich and velvety and the ideal pick-me-up whenever you need it.

Distillery

SPIRIT HOUND DISTILLERS

4196 Ute Highway, Lyons, 303-823-5696

Silver: Vapor Distillery

Bronze: J&L Distilling Company

Write-in: Longtucky Spirits

Spirit Hound Distillers make several award-winning offerings including their Straight Malt Whisky, White Dog Whisky (moonshine), Sambuca (Herbal Liqueur), Mountain Bum Barrel-Aged Rum and a top drawer gin. But what exactly makes Spirit Hound so good at what they do? According to the folks who own it, “Spirit Hound embodies the enterprising spirit of the old West, a passion for fine spirits, and our own discoveries in how to distill beverages with high quality and uniquely drinkable character. Our spirits are made with local Colorado ingredients such as freshly-picked juniper berries.” We’re not sure how you get the spirit of the old West into a bottle, but our readers tell us these folks have managed to do just that, and it tastes as good as it sounds.

Use of Ghee

WONDER

946 Pearl St., 720-484-4927

Listen up, you ghees. There’s a drink you’ve got to check out, if you haven’t already. Wonder, the juice and milk bar on Pearl Street, serves up mugs of butter coffee, which is comprised of coffee, ghee from grass-fed animals, MCT oil and coconut oil. Not only does the ghee, a type of clarified butter, make the coffee taste as rich as someone with a lot of money, but its fat content allows for the efficient release of caffeine into your system, so you get the most bang for your coffee buck.

Microbrewery

AVERY BREWING
COMPANY

4910 Nautilus Court North,
303-440-4324

Silver: Mountain Sun Pubs
& Breweries

Bronze: Left Hand Brewing Co.

Write-in: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co.

Boulder County has got a lot of microbreweries. Like, dozens. We don’t feel comfortable giving an exact number because there’s probably a new one going up right now. So our readers really know good beer; there’s a ton of delicious brew here. And our reader’s have crowned Avery Brewing Co. their favorite microbrewery. They’ve got 30 beers on tap — always! That includes favorites like the nutty and rich Ellie’s Brown Ale and the spicy sweetness of White Rascal unfiltered Belgian. Those looking for a Hawaiian vacation for their taste buds can enjoy the crisp flavor of the Liliko’i Kepolo, and those looking for the heavyweight champion belt can sip slowly on a 16.4 percent ABV Bourbon Barrel Aged Mephistopheles’ Stout. Everyone’s a winner when they’re drinking good beer.

Happy Hour

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten

Bronze: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Write-in: Via Perla

The Med, as we locals refer to it, understands what makes for a fantastic happy hour. It’s far more than just discounted food and drink offerings, although those are certainly an important ingredient. But a truly great happy hour has to have energy. It needs to be bustling with people you know or might want to know. The staff needs to be having as much fun as the patrons and the discounted food and drink need to be great-tasting and of ample variety, all served up in an atmosphere that transports you to someplace far more interesting and entertaining than wherever you just spent your workday. Welcome to The Mediterranean Restaurant’s happy hour, where all of the above are in abundant supply. A dizzying array of small plates and a first-class bar will feed your belly, and the conversation will get your evening off on the right foot. See you there.

Sue France
Wes Fowler, Barista at Ozo Coffee company, loves his job.

Coffee House

OZO COFFEE COMPANY

5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-440-0233

1015 Pearl St., 303-645-4885

1898 S. Flatiron Court, Suite 110, 303-396-0302

1232-A S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: The Laughing
Goat Coffeehouse

Bronze: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Write-in: Ziggi’s Coffee

Since 2007, Ozo Coffee Company has been cultivating the ideals of community and coffee, then blending the two together real smooth-like. The specially trained baristas and roasters working behind the scenes are clear leaders in the specialty coffee realm, and when you enter one of their cafes, it’s obvious they extend the invitation right out to you: Come on in, have a seat, sip, make a new friend and smile.

Coffee Roaster

OZO COFFEE COMPANY

5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-440-0233

1015 Pearl St., 303-645-4885

1898 S. Flatiron Court, Suite 110, 303-396-0302

1232-A S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Bronze: Brewing Market Coffee

Write-in: Ampersand Coffee Roasters

Crafting the perfect roasted bean is no small task. But, considering the decade-plus of experience that Ozo Coffee Company’s roasters bring to the table, it’s no surprise our readers point straight their way when looking for a delectably reliable bean. Each of the varieties roasted at Ozo are tuned for precise, optimal flavor and integrity. Want to learn more? Attend one of their Specialty Coffee Association of America-accredited classes to tour and test out the roasting lab.

Bar

THE BITTER BAR

835 Walnut St., 303-442-3050

Silver: Avery Brewing Company

Bronze: Mountain Sun

Pubs & Breweries

Write-in: License No. 1

James Lee, The Bitter Bar’s owner and operator, says the downtown cocktail joint isn’t named after aromatic alcohol bitters. Rather, the name comes from the intensity of early spirits. Original whisky, gin and rye were fierce, commonly diluted (by necessity) with water, sugars, citrus and medicinal bitters. From there the cocktail was born, and in that spirit the Bitter Bar continues. Enjoy a daily happy hour from 5-8 p.m., and choose from a handful of cocktails on tap or made to order, in addition to an array of wines and beers; charcuterie platters with savory bites like olives, meats and cheeses round out a full night out.

Beer Selection — Restaurant

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7885

Silver: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

Bronze: Oskar Blues Brewery (various locations)

Write-in: FATE Brewing Company

Throughout the year, Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries brew over 75 different beers. That’s enough for you to go more than six times a month, try a new beer each time, and still arrive at New Year’s Eve with new beers to try left over. The sudsy medley includes lagers, wild ales, sour beers and barrel-aged varieties — enough taps to quench anyone’s palate. Echoing our readers’ praise, a decades-long list of awards includes medals from the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Sue France
Frasca food and wine owner, bobby stuckey, carefully selects a drink for guests to enjoy.

Wine Selection

FRASCA food and wine

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Silver: Flagstaff House Restaurant

Bronze: Boulder Cork

Write-in: Arcana

It wasn’t that long ago that fine wine lists only offered bottles from France, with an occasional Italian or Spanish bottle thrown in. But ignoring the ever-growing wine industry and the number of styles from across the globe is no longer an option. As the Frasca Food and Wine menu says: “There has never been a better time to drink wine. It is being produced in a wide array of styles, offering an unprecedented level of fun and pleasure.” The wine list at Frasca’s is not only extensive (more than 70 pages) but also informative, explaining all the nuances of each flavor profile, varietal and theme. And their award-winning staff, helmed by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, makes it the perfect place to discover new wines, drink old favorites, and maybe even learn something in the process.

Cup of Coffee

OZO COFFEE COMPANY

5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-440-0233

1015 Pearl St., 303-645-4885

1898 S. Flatiron Court, Suite 110, 303-396-0302

1232-A S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Bronze: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Write-in: Logan’s Espresso Cafe

Let’s be honest. No one has time for a bad cup of coffee. But our readers have found the easiest path to a great cup of joe every time: Fill your French press, drip machine or to-go mug with Ozo Coffee Company. Whether your palate desires a roast that is welcoming and approachable or exotic and lively, this in-house coffee roaster and cafe has you covered. They’ll even further eliminate your coffee inconveniences; sign up for their subscription service and get monthly bean deliveries right to your door. Even Mondays don’t seem so bad with Ozo in your cup.

Sue France
The Bitter Bar’s Bar Manager/Director of Operations, Dan Maguire pours a drink.

Cocktail

THE BITTER BAR

835 Walnut St., 303-442-3050

Silver: License No. 1

Bronze: St Julien Hotel & Spa

Write-in: Upstairs Cocktail Lounge (at The Kitchen)

We’ll take the “Tin Man:” bourbon, lemon, elderflower liqueur and ginger ale. No, wait, the “Kiss the Sky:” gin, domaine de canton, lavender syrup and lemon. No, “That Pink Drink:” vodka, cucumber, aperol and lemon. Or what about the… You see? It’s not easy figuring out the single best libation on The Bitter Bar’s on-tap, happy hour cocktail selection. Endless combinations elevate bourbons, gins, vodkas, tequilas, whiskeys and rums in this trendy lounge.