Best of East County 2016 — Drink

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Alexandra Stern, bartender for The Empire Lounge & Restaurant
Susan France

Cocktails
EMPIRE LOUNGE & RESTAURANT
816 Main St., Louisville, 303-665-2521
Longmont Winner: Martini’s Bistro
Honorable Mention: The Melting Pot (Louisville); The Roost (Longmont); Sugarbeet (Longmont)

You know what’s worse than not drinking? Drinking a poorly prepared cocktail. Luckily for you, East County has a plethora of great bars with unique concoctions. But this year’s best of the best is Empire Lounge & Restaurant in Louisville. Enjoy one of their carefully crafted cocktails made with peach puree or order one of the classics. Try something new or imbibe an old staple. Regardless, you won’t be disappointed. So pull up a bar-stool, put on a sloppy grin and celebrate being alive with the award-winning libations at Empire.

Coffee Roaster
OZO COFFEE Company
1232 S. Hover Road, Unit 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689
Runner Up, East County: Brewing Market Coffee (Longmont)
Lafayette Winner: Proper Grounds Coffee Roasters
Louisville Winner: Paul’s Coffee & Tea
Honorable Mention: The Unseen Bean (Lafayette)

Ozo Coffee Company is so serious about their craft they have a “lab” located next to their roastery. The lab is set up with a two-barrel Joper sample roaster to roast green coffee samples for evaluation. The lab is also home to weekly roasting quality control cuppings. Ozo’s lab offers trainings for their own staff, wholesale accounts and to the public, because these folks are way serious about roasting delicious coffee, harvested sustainably from Central and South America and Africa. Our readers know a thing or two about a well-roasted bunch of beans, and Ozo is where they turn for the best in East County

Wine Bar
POR WINE HOUSE
836 1/2 Main St., Louisville, 720-666-1386
Lafayette Winner: Apeizza e Vino
Longmont Winner: Bin 46 Wine Bar & Restaurant
Honorable Mention: 2020 Food + Wine Bar (Longmont); Espresso Vino by Brewing Market(Lafayette)

If you’re anything like us, and we bet you are, you have a bucket list of some sort. What’s at the top of the list? Climb Mount Everest? Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef? Ride your bike from Alaska to Patagonia? Swim in the Dead Sea? While perusing the digital highway, we came across a goal that we think is in line with the collective sentiment of our readers: “The first thing on my bucket list is to fill the bucket with wine.” And according to our readers, the folks at Por Wine House are the best option to help you reach that goal. So whether you’re looking for a glass on tap or a bottle to share, Por is the number one wine bar in East County.

Coffee House
ZIGGI’S COFFEE
400 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-5120
1139 Francis St., Longmont, 303-682-5120
1729 Hover St. Longmont (Drive-Thru)
1221 S. Main St., Longmont (Drive-Thru)
Lafayette Winner: Brewing Market Coffee (Also in Longmont)
Louisville Winner: Bittersweet – Café & Confections
Honorable Mention:  Precision Pours (Louisville); Paul’s Coffee & Tea (Louisville)

Some say the coffee house is a sacred place. Not only does it deliver the nectar of the gods, it provides a calming sanctuary — the perfect place to sit and chat with a friend or to finally get cracking on that historical sci-fi murder romance novel you’ve always wanted to write. Without the right ingredients — a cozy environment, friendly waitstaff and, of course, great coffee — a coffee house will not be a safe haven for its congregation. Thankfully, Ziggi’s Coffee has all of these necessary attributes and more. Stop on in for a cup of joe and some peace of mind.

Margarita
EFRAIN’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544
451 S. Pratt Parkway, Longmont, 720-494-0777
Louisville Winner: La Revolución Taqueria y Cantina
Honorable Mention: 3 Margaritas (Longmont); CyclHOPS Bike CANtina (Longmont); Comida (Longmont)

Efrain’s is always a good idea. But the better idea involves margaritas at Efrain’s. It’s hard to improve upon the food at Efrain’s, but a margarita does just that. The refreshing beverage matches any plate. But of course, you could just forgo food all together, and slurp down one of their many hand-crafted margaritas — after all, their list is long and very diverse. And it’s hard to choose because they’re all so good. But don’t despair, there is a solution to this marg dilemma. You’ll just have to make multiple trips to try them all. You can trust our readers who tell us you’ll be happy you did.

Teahouse
THE HUCKLEBERRY
700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Runner Up, East County: Celestial Seasons (Gunbarrel)
Longmont Winner: Thompson House Inn & Tea Room
Lyons Winner: The Stone Cup
Honorable Mention: Paul’s Coffee & Tea (Louisville)

Tea is the most luxurious of activities, one to be taken slowly, with lovely things like scones and Devonshire cream. But you don’t have to travel to Bedford, England, where afternoon tea is said to have been born, to enjoy the nicest of English traditions. The Huckleberry offers afternoon tea, complete with tables dressed with linens and all the teatime accouterments. After being served a pot of premium tea of your choice, out comes a tiered tower full of pastries and savory tea sandwiches, baked fresh for you on the day of your tea. Little ones can even partake in their own children’s tea party, with a tower of child-friendly pastries.

staff-pick-logoBloody Mary
LUCILE’S CREOLE CAFE
518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814

A bloody mary is more than just a drink. It’s a breakfast, a spicy wake up call and a cure for last night’s mistakes all rolled into one. As such, its quality is far more important than that of the swill you were pouring into your mouth the night before. Lucile’s has mastered the bloody. Before Lucile’s Boulder location could serve alcohol, BW staffers would pile into cars and drive to Longmont just to partake in this magical elixir. With Lucile’s special seasoning on the rim and the perfect spice within, this is truly the Queen of East County’s bloody marys.

staff-pick-logoInvisible barrier to fracking
COUNTY LINE ROAD

Driving down County Line Road, the dividing line between Boulder and Weld counties, is bizarre and terrifying. On the east side of the road, massive production platforms acres in size with 50-plus tanks stand three-stories high as far as the eye can see. Some are in the middle of fields, others are pressed up against houses and neighborhoods. But look to the west and all you see is the snow-capped mountains of the Back Range shimmering in the sunlight. It’s as if the road had formed a magical, invisible barrier to an attacking force of giant pollution-spewing industrial giants. If only magic existed. We all know it’s Boulder County’s moratorium on drilling that has created this great divide, and we all know that it’s about to run out. Hang in there County Line Road, we need your powers more than ever.

Latte
ZIGGI’S Coffee
400 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-5120
1139 Francis St., Longmont, 303-682-5120
1729 Hover St. Longmont (Drive-Thru)
1221 S. Main St., Longmont (Drive-Thru)
Runner Up, East County: Brewing Market Coffee (Longmont, Lafayette)
Louisville Winner: Precision Pours
Honorable Mention: Bittersweet – Café & Confections (Louisville);
Vic’s (Louisville)

For more than 12 years, Ziggi’s Coffee has been serving the East County community award-winning coffee coupled with excellent service. And part of that excellent service is knowing how to create the perfect Latte. Getting the perfect blend of frothy milk and strong but not bitter coffee is pure art, just like those cool designs on top of the foam.  Want to spice things up? Add a seasonal flavor to make your Latte even more scrumptious. So head on over to the nearest Ziggi’s and get your fix. See you latte.

OSCAR BLUES HOME MADE LIQUIDS & SOLIDSSusan France
OSCAR BLUES HOME MADE LIQUIDS & SOLIDS

Beer Selection
OSKAR BLUES HOME MADE LIQUIDS and SOLIDS
1555 S. Hover Road, Longmont, 303-485-9400
Lafayette Winner: The Post Brewing Co.
Louisville Winner: Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse
Honorable Mention: Old Chicago (Longmont, Superior); Pumphouse
Brewery & Restaurant (Longmont)

You’re lucky Boulder County. You live in the middle of the nation’s beer belt. We don’t just have beer, we’ve got an oversized portion of the world’s best beer. And one of the most successful brewers in the County is Longmont’s own Oskar Blues. But what makes the folks at Oskar Blues so special and popular with our readers is that they are all about the beer, not the competition. At the company’s Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids restaurant they serve up 44 beers on tap and another five selections in bottles and cans. This place serves up suds from 22 microbrews, many of them their own local competitors. Now that’s a class act in our book and exactly why our readers chose them for best beer selection.

Happy Hour
95A BISTRO & SUSHI
1381 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette, 303-665-3080
Longmont Winner: CycleHOPS Bike CANtina
Louisville Winner: Parma Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar
Honorable Mention: Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant (Longmont); Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse (Louisville)

What day deserves a happy hour more than Monday? In fact, don’t you think every hour in every Monday should be a happy hour? Well, so do the folks at 95a Bistro & Sushi, where it is indeed happy hour all day on Mondays (and Tuesday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m.).  Head over to 95a to hangout on their patio — upstairs or downstairs — while you nosh on some hot or cold tapas or a house roll or two (or three…).  95a’s menu draws from traditional America cuisine with Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influences, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Microbrewery
LEFT HAND BREWING COMPANY
1265 Boston Ave., Longmont, 303-772-0258
Lafayette Winner: Odd13 Brewing
Louisville Winner: 12Degree Brewing
Honorable Mention: Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, Lyons); The Post Brewing Co. (Lafayette)

You know that Mr. Beer kit your mom got you for your birthday the first year you lived in your own place? Yeah, well, Dick Doore, the founder of Left Hand Brewing Company, got one of those kits from his brother back in 1990 and now he owns one of the most successful microbreweries in Colorado — heck, in the country. We’re not trying to make you feel inferior or anything, but where’s your Sawtooth Ale or Black Jack Porter? And did you master the science of bottling a nitro beer without using a widget (you know, that little plastic thing in the Guinness cans)? No. The folks at Left Hand did. Maybe it’s time to pop on over to their tasting room or take a brewery tour and figure out what you’ve been doing wrong.

WaterlooSusan France
Waterloo

Bar
WATERLOO
809 Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Longmont Winner: Mike O’Shay’s Restaurant & Ale House
Honorable Mention: Mudrock’s Tap
& Tavern (Louisville); The Roost (Longmont); The Dickens Tavern (Longmont)

Waterloo, couldn’t escape if I wanted to/ Waterloo, knowing my fate is to be with you.” Wait, that song’s not about Waterloo Restaurant in Louisville. Well, we’ll be damned. We could’ve sworn… c’est la vie! Anyway, when our readers want to have an ice-cold pint of local beer or a handcrafted cocktail that’ll knock their socks off, head on down to Waterloo. And to get those socks off, our readers (and a few us here at BW) suggest you try tossing back a cucumber lemonade made with Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, cucumber, lemon & simple syrup, topped with club soda.  And if cocktails aren’t your thing, don’t worry, because Waterloo’s got beers a plenty, on tap, in bottles or cans.

Beer Over 10% ABV
TEN FIDY IMPERIAL STOUT FROM OSKAR BLUES BREWERY
1800 Pike Road, Unit B, Longmont, 303-776-1914

If you’re waiting at the bar for your brother, have a Ten Fidy. If you’re usually-on-time brother turns out to be an hour and a half late, don’t have four Ten Fidy’s. Or if you do, make sure your ridiculously late brother can give you a lift home. This blacker than black imperial stout may be served in a small snifter for sipping, but its hard not to gulp because it tastes amazing and the smaller size still packs quite a punch at 10.5% ABV.  So if you only have time for one beer, but you’d still like to enhance your impression of the world around you, Then make it a Ten Fidy Imperial Stout from Oskar Blues Brewery.