Best of Boulder 2010: Drink


Mountain Sun/Southern Sun 1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886 627 S.
Broadway, 303-543-0886
Runner-up: Avery Brewing Company
Mention: Oskar Blues

Beer. A wondrous, bubbly, golden liquid. Quencher of
thirst, loosener of tongues, restorer of courage and uniter of
strangers; faithful companion to sports, counterbalance of salty foods
and food group for college students. The virtues of this beverage, old
as written history itself, are many. And we, the fortunate few in
Boulder, have been blessed to have many quality practitioners of the
frothy faith in our midst, and the competition for the coveted title of
Best Beer Selection is appropriately fierce. Bringing home the title
once again this year are the gifted brewers at the Mountain Sun/
Southern Sun,
whose carefully crafted selections like the Annapurna
Amber, the XXX Pale and the Colorado Kind draw crowds of faithful
pilgrims to indulge in the best beer Boulder has to offer every night of
the week. And a word to the uninitiated: Try the Kind Crippler, a 50-50
beer combo that might just become your regular order. But don’t forget
Avery Brewery, where creative concoctions, from earthy stouts to sour
ales, always come as a pleasant Katherine Creel surprise. And
Oskar Blues up in Lyons and Longmont has quietly been turning out
outstanding brews for years now, gaining recognition from The New York
Times and the Wall Street Journal. Come enjoy what has given so much joy
to so many — or be forever stuck in purgatory drinking Coors.


The Laughing Goat 1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628
Honorable Mention: Amante

What makes a coffee house a
good place to hang? To find out, head to The Laughing Goat. The
coffeehouse uses organic, shade-grown, Fair Trade coffee roasted by the
Kaladi Brothers in Denver, to prepare a wide variety of coffee and
espresso drinks. But coffee is only part of it. The café’s main
location, at 1709 Pearl St., is home to live music and poetry
readings that attract Boulder’s cultured clientele. There is also a
smaller location in the Norlin Library on the CU-Boulder campus, which
bustles constantly as students seek fuel between classes. Both locations
are staffed with expert baristas who, if you’re lucky, will decorate
your latte with a delightful design. The Pearl Street location also
serves wine and beer, extending its service from coffeehouse to evening
social venue, with a nightly happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. With moveable
tables, rotating artwork and a wall that opens onto Pearl Street, the
café is an ideal place to spend an afternoon with a book, a friend, or
simply with a stellar cup of coffee. When you want a great cup of coffee
to start your early, early day or a delicious latte to keep your
afternoon going, stop by Vic’s. And if you’re on Walnut Street or North
Broadway, swing by Amante for a quick pick-me-up and some European
soccer on the TV.


The Mediterranean Restaurant
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Boulder Café

Why do they call it Happy Hour? Because the workday is
over, of course, leaving you time to do what you want to do —
drink and eat with your friends. Boulder has named The Mediterranean
as the top place to go for our favorite hour of the day.
From 3 to 6:30 p.m., The Med offers half off all of the tapas, a huge
selection of hot and cold appetizers. They have great drink deals during
happy hour seven days a week. The popularity of The Med caused them to
expand the restaurant to almost twice its original size and it is still
packed during happy hour. Known for the great fondue and oysters, the
Boulder Café is another great place to spend happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m.
(3 to 7 at the bar) every day with half-priced beer and house wine, as
well as half off all appetizers and raw bar.

The Laughing
1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628 Also in Norlin Library on the
CU campus
Runner-up: Amante
Honorable Mention: Vic’s

A popular lap-toppers
destination within a stone’s throw of the Pearl Street Mall, The
Laughing Goat
is also a choice spot for local art displays, stage
performances, even occasional comedy and poetry. Hearkening back to
Boulder’s venerable coffee house traditions, the Goat not only serves as
a downtown meeting place, but also offers a variety of java beverages,
crafted with care. This is where the latte gets its due and propers.
“The coffees we proudly offer you,” states the Goat’s promo literature,
“are the finest single origin varietals, organically certified, fairly
traded premium coffees of distinction roasted to their optimal flavor
profile by the Kaladi Brothers of Denver, one of the finest small batch
boutique roasters anywhere.” If that isn’t reason enough to bring your
coffee drinking business to the Laughing Goat, just try their vanilla
latte. You’ll be back, we promise you. With two locations, Amante brings
a taste of Italian chic to downtown Boulder and North Broadway with its
coffees and outdoor patios.

Vic’s, and Vic’s Expresso, are sprinkled around the
city like little havens of java and jazz, with interesting wall decor
created by local artists. Vic’s is a great place to meet, read the paper
and pop open that laptop.

Grande Mexican Restaurant
1101 Walnut St., 303-444-3690
Zolo Grill
Honorable Mentions: Tahona, Efrain’s

One tequila, two
tequila, three tequila … floor. This common phrase is what makes the Rio
Grande Mexican Restaurant
limit their customers to three margaritas
per visit. And, no, you can’t walk out the door, walk right back in and
order more. Take our word for it — you might want to do that, but it’s
not a good idea. The Rio Grande’s best keep secret is what consistently
makes them No. 1 on our list for the Best Margarita in Boulder. With
salt or not, the margs at the Rio are legendary. The Rio offers a
variety of other refreshing bebidas as well, from an assortment of
tequilas to beer or martinis. When it comes to tequila, no other
restaurant has more knowledge than Zolo Grill. With 150 tequilas to
choose from, their margaritas are for tequila connoisseurs and go well
with the restaurant’s unique Mexican cuisine. Both Tahona and Efrain’s
get honorable mentions, evidence that the county’s cup runneth over when
it comes to margs.


Jax Fish House 928 Pearl St., 303-444-1811
The Kitchen

Anyone who glances above the bar at Jax Fish House in
Boulder can spot a number of thick glass urns filled with colored
liquids and slices of fresh fruit. Order an infused martini and you’ll
realize those urns are the source of the deliciously flavorful infused
vodkas the award-winning restaurant makes in-house. Flavors range from
watermelon to orange-mango to coffee, and make a tasty,
minimalist alternative to the classic cocktail. Other cocktails are
equally unique, such as the Wonka Cocktail, a candy-reminiscent mix of
blueberry-infused vodka and pineapple juice, and the St. Germaine
Bubbly, a sophisticated combination of Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germaine
liquor, gently carbonated with champagne. The bustling bar is run by
mixologist Jesse Klinker and is a great spot to enjoy good conversation,
a fun atmosphere and, of course, a great martini. And while you’re
downtown enjoying The Kitchen’s awesome appetizers, take a sip of one of
their excellent martinis as well.

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
13th St., 303-442-4993
Runner-up: Pekoe Sip House

When Maksud
Ikramov, mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, visited Boulder in 1987, he
announced that his city planned to donate a teahouse in celebration of
the establishment of sister city ties between Boulder and Dushanbe. For
the next three years, more than 40 artisans set to work creating the
intricate decorations visitors see in the Dushanbe Teahouse today.
The handcarved, hand-painted ceiling was created without power tools,
crafted with patterns of traditional Persian art. A fountain in the
center of the restaurant displays seven copper statues, based on the
12th century poem, “The Seven Beauties,” and offers diners a pleasant
background sound, as well as the company of fish in the pool below. The
teas offered at Dushanbe Teahouse provide a vast, tantalizing selection.
Choose from hundreds of teas from India, China, Sri Lanka, Japan and
other tea-producing locations. Parties of all sizes are welcome for
afternoon tea from 3 to 5 p.m., with reservations required 24 hours in
advance to allow for fresh baked goods that day. Boulder-based Pekoe Sip
House imports the highest quality teas from around the world.


Boulder Dushanbe Tea House
1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Gold Hill Café

By now, one of your ultra-hip, annoyingly well-read
exotic-teadrinking friends has probably told you that the term “chai
tea” is redundant. Chai, after all, is the Hindi word for tea. Aren’t
you glad you have such smart friends? At Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, you
won’t get flak for calling a masala chai a chai tea, a roobis infusion a
tea, or a spoon a fork, for that matter. What you will get is one of
the best chai drinks in the county — the right blend of spices, milk
and, of course, tea. And since this category is “Chai Drink,” you’re not
limited to the typical latte version either. Who’s up for a Chai
Russian, a tangy blend of house chai, Kahlua and Smirnoff? When it
tastes this good, who cares what you call it? Let’s all shut up, raise
our glasses and enjoy some of the best drinks this side of the
Himalayas. Cheers to Gold Hill Café as well for serving up a great
selection of Bhakti and Oregon chai teas (yeah, we said it).

875 9th St., 303-484-8770
Runner-up: Third
Street Chai

Making chai is an art that Bhakti Chai has more
than mastered. Based on the masala, or spicy, variety of chai served in
India, this blend of fiery spices and sweet tea began as a home
operation when founder Brook Eddy couldn’t find the flavor of chai she’d
come to love during her travels in India. Now jars of the concentrated
mix grace grocery store shelves from Boulder to Breckenridge, and in
Boulder alone you can pick up a fresh-brewed cup at more than 50
restaurants, tea shops and coffee houses. Making a decent chai is simple
enough if you get your ingredients right, but Bhakti has aimed way
above decent and hit the bullseye of delicious. Fresh-pressed ginger,
black tea from the hills of the Himalayas and a touch of organic
evaporated cane juice are just some of the hallmarks of this local
favorite. For now, Bhakti is only in stores in Colorado, but fortunately
for the rest of the chai-loving world, it’s also for sale through
Bhakti’s website, www.bhaktichai. com. To make this spicy drink even
sweeter, Bhakti donates 5 percent of its online sales to the Global Fund
for Women, an international nonprofit that helps women in need.

And while most towns
would be lucky enough to have one top-notch chai microbrewery, Boulder
is also blessed with Third Street Chai, a homegrown operation that’s
been blending some of the best chai since 1995.

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
Mention: Berry Best

This year Jamba Juice is celebrating its 20th
anniversary of creating and serving up all-natural smoothies to the

even though the store may get the corporate chain stink-eye stare from
some locals, their tasty mixes of fruits, juices, yogurts and
supplements are undeniable. Plus the energy, immunity, antioxidant and
other boosts that are added to the drinks make the beverages that much
healthier. And in case you’re worried about calories, being the fit and
healthy city that we are, Jamba Juice also offers a variety of lighter
drinks like Strawberry Nirvana and Mango Mantra, which has no more than
150 calories in a 16-ounce serving. Can you get much lighter than that
in a smoothie? Local favorite Rush has an eclectic mix of flavorful
smoothies plus delicious fruit bowls. Honorable mention Berry Best
offers up tasty smoothies at Boulder Farmers’ Market and at its shop on


Mountain Sun/ Southern Sun 1535 Pearl St., 303-546- 0886 627 S.
Broadway, 303-543- 0886
Runner-up: Avery Brewing

in Boulder we love
huge pints of beer almost as much as we love the pintsized breweries
that make them.

Sure, bigger is better when you’re pouring it out, but when
you’re handcrafting that perfect blend of liquid gold, micro is the only
way to go. That’s why Colorado has not only the most breweries per
capita in the United States, but some of the best as well, many right
here in Boulder County.

Even people in Denver are in love with the legendary Mountain
and Southern Sun, so much so that they clamored until
they got their own Sun, the Vine Street Pub, which is the third location
of this hop heaven. The Suns’ slogan says “Beer, Food, Music, Love,”
and we’ll take all four in the biggest size they’ve got. If you’re not
sure which of their award-winning beers (six gold medals at the Great
American Beer Festival alone!) to indulge in, you can sample their deep
amber, ultra hoppy Colorado Kind Ale, or the Belgian chocolate-infused
Chocolate Stout or their other dozen or so flavors. And for you
vegetarians out there, don’t worry that you’ll be on a liquid diet here:
they have great garden burgers and salads to go along with their
delicious microbrews.

Kudos also go out to our other hometown favorite, Avery Brewing,
for making big-time flavor on a craftsman’s scale with perennial
favorites like India Pale Ale and White Rascal to name just a (very)

Frasca Food & Wine 1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966
Flagstaff House
Honorable Mention: The Kitchen

To become a Master
Sommelier, participants in the Court of Master Sommeliers program must
complete four levels of rigorous coursework and exams.

The first Master Sommelier
title was given in 1973, and since then, only 104 more have followed
within the United States. Internationally, there are 169 wine
professionals who’ve received the title, confirming its rare,
prestigious status. Given Frasca Food & Wine’s comprehensive
yet unique wine selection of more than 300 wines, perhaps it’s not
surprising that Bobby Stuckey, the restaurant’s co-owner, is a Master
Sommelier. Given the title in 2004, Stuckey has been in the restaurant
business for 26 years and has worked in renowned restaurants including
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, where he received the James Beard
Foundation’s “Outstanding Wine Service” award. Frasca’s food is
dedicated to the cuisine of the northern Italian region Friuli-Venezia
Giulia, and many handpicked Italian wines are featured on the menu.
Other wine-producing regions are featured as well, such as Germany,
California and France, and the restaurant features special wine pairing
dinners each Monday night to complement seasonal flavors in the food.
Wines by the glass range in price from $7 to $16, and by the bottle from
$24 to upwards of $3,000 for the finest selections. Frasca’s wine list
offers a vast and interesting range in price and in variety — the
qualities of an ideal wine list. Flagstaff House is known not only for
its culinary excellence and world-class wine list, but its breathtaking
views as well. And next time you’re downtown and feel like having a
glass, stop by the Kitchen on the corner of Pearl and 11th streets.