Drink 2016

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Michelle Jones, tap room manager for Avery Brewing Company
Susan France

Margarita

RIO GRANDE MEXICAN RESTAURANT

1101 Walnut St., 303-444-3690

Second Place: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina

Third Place: Tahona Tequila Bistro

Fourth Place: Zolo Southwestern Grill

Fifth Place: Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace

The margaritas at Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant are the stuff of legend. It’s funny how something so simple — just tequila, salt and lime — can turn into something so extraordinary, but that’s the secret to the Rio marg: simplicity. If you’re feeling fancy, you can try a jalapeno marg, or maybe a fruity marg, with mango, strawberry or manberry. Take your margarita to the next level and add your favorite tequila, or get it with a splash of the refreshing citrus taste of Cointreau. Whether it’s on the rocks or frozen, you’re in for the best margarita in Boulder County when you’re at the Rio.

staff pix graphic_2016Bloody Mary

THE HUCKLEBERRY

700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020

There are few drinks as well-suited for the morning than the bloody Mary. There’s a whole bunch of fruits and veggies in there (if you think about it), and sometimes fun accoutrements, like bacon or other meats. Oh, and there’s vodka in there, too. Having tasted many a bloody Mary around Boulder County, we can safely say there are lots of good options to choose from. But we like The Huckleberry’s the best, because it’s spicy, punchy, fresh and tastefully refined. It’s the perfect drink to get right on a rough morning, or it’s the perfect way to start a lazy Saturday.

Wine Selection

FRASCA FOOD AND WINE

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Second Place: Flagstaff House Restaurant

Third Place: Boulder Cork

Fourth Place: Brasserie Ten Ten

Fifth Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant

When a high-end restaurant is created by a chef and a master sommelier, you have to figure that their wine list is going to be pretty extensive. With more than 200 varieties, it’s not surprising that Frasca Food and Wine was voted best wine selection in Boulder. Frasca founders, Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, were inspired by Friulano food tradition, where “frascas” serve as friendly meeting places for folks to share a meal and a bottle of wine. Keep that tradition going and grab your closest friends and family and treat yourself to a great glass of wine, or two, or three.

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

Second Place: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Third Place: Brewing Market Coffee

Fourth Place: The Unseen Bean

Fifth Place: Peet’s Coffee & Tea

Great coffee is a necessity in today’s busy lifestyle, and perfectly roasted coffee beans are paramount to making a great cup. Boulder’s own Ozo Coffee Company is the local’s favorite roaster with beans from locations around the world. Looking for something with “toffee sweetness with flavors of strawberry and honeydew?” Then pick up a bag of Ozo’s Colombian Narino. Or maybe you’re after something darker — rich and earthy with cedar and vanilla (Organic Sumatra Mandheling) or something fruity floral (Organic Democratic of Congo or Ethiopia Kochere Washed). Or go for the Organic Ozo blend for a nice cup of good ol’ regular joe. Regardless of your flavor preference, Ozo roasts their coffee fresh every week, proving themselves best of the best, year after year.

staff pix graphic_2016Rooftop Martini

SAMPLES WORLD BISTRO

370 Main St., Longmont, 303-327-9318

It seems to hit the Weekly staff about once a month. You’re going along through your day playing watchdog over public institutions and all of a sudden somebody says something about a martini. Trust us, they go hand in hand. And then somebody adds a martini on a rooftop under the stars. That’ll do it every time. It’s your lucky day, Governor Hickenlooper. A martini from the amazing rooftop bar at Samples World Bistro is so fun and inspiring we’re willing to take a break from explaining to our readers that you are really a Republican in Democrat’s clothing that has been put in place by the oil and gas industry and their friends at Colorado Concern who want to turn our state into a contaminated pincushion. No wonder we love martini time.

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

Second Place: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Third Place: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Fourth Place: The Cup Espresso Cafe

Fifth Place: Brewing Market Coffee

For many folks, the joy of that first sip of coffee is what drives them in the morning. And there’s no better place in Boulder to get a cup of joe than Ozo Coffee Company, with three locations in Boulder to serve the community. And that’s what Ozo is really about: community — the community here in Boulder, and coffee-growing communities in Central and South America and Africa, where they source their beans. When you purchase a bag of Ozo coffee, the info on the bags let you know exactly where your beans came from, right down to the farm and the owner. You can also learn about processing and certification for your coffee, the taste of the bean and the elevation at which it was grown. Ozo roasts beans each week, ensuring you get the freshest cup possible each time you drop by.

Distillery

BOULDER DISTILLERY (HOME OF 303 VODKA AND 303 WHISKEY)

Currently moving locations

Second Place: Spirit Hound Distillers

Third Place: J&L Distilling Company

Fourth Place: Vapor Distillery

Fifth Place: Black Canyon Distillery

Distilleries are one of America’s finest treasures. Whether they’re crafting our oldest spirit, bourbon, or borrowing distilling techniques from around the world, craft distillers nowadays are making new, exciting drinks using time-tested methods. Our voters say the best distiller in Boulder County is Boulder Distillery. That’s likely because they make some of the best vodka and whiskey around. They’re in the process of switching taprooms, but they’re likely to come back with their classic cocktails soon.

staff pix graphic_2016Sangria

CAFE AION

1235 Pennsylvania Ave., 303-993-8131

Just imagine sitting on a beach in Barcelona sipping a pitcher of fresh sangria watching the waves roll in, your feet digging into the warm sand. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It sure does. But most of us aren’t in Barcelona reading Best of Boulder. Most of us are in, well, Boulder. The good news is we can still enjoy great sangria. If you have a hankering for some of the Spanish drink, head on over to Cafe Aion. Made with “fruits, spices & secrets,” Aion’s sangria is perfectly tart and spicy, without the normal surgery aftertaste of most concoctions. We’re still curious what their secret is, but if you ask us, it’s working.

Juice/Smoothie

JAMBA JUICE

3325 28th St., 303-938-1271

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

1669 Euclid Ave., 303-449-5245

3053 Arapahoe Ave., 303-247-1170

Second Place: Alfalfa’s Market

Third Place: Whole Foods Market

Fourth Place: Wonder

Fifth Place: Zeal

Notorious prankster Ellen DeGeneres recently taught the world about Jamba Juice etiquette using the powerful learning tool known as Adele. The public service announcement involved Ellen telling Adele what to do via ear piece and here were the major takeaways: Jamba Juice provides sizes small, medium and large (not extra small, nor extra large); you are not encouraged to bring your own scissors to cut your own serving of wheatgrass; Jamba Juice will not add amaretto to your smoothie; and if you’re a celebrity you still have to pay. But if you want a normal, non-alcoholic smoothie, then stop right in, because our readers know they’re the best around.

Chai

BHAKTI CHAI

939 Pearl St., 303-484-8770

Second Place: The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Third Place: Kathmandu Restaurant II

Fourth Place: Third Street Chai

Fifth Place: Brewing Market Coffee

Chai is delicious. It can be fiery and explosive, or smooth and creamy. You can drink it hot, and you can drink it cold. You can drink them in a mug, or you can drink it on a rug. You can drink them with a friend, or you can drink it until it meets its end. Yikes, that took a grisly turn. But there’s no better drink to consider moments both grisly and joyous than chai. And our readers say there’s no better chai in Boulder County than Bhakti Chai. And who can blame them? This local company brews up delicious chai, enjoyable cold or warm. It’s used by baristas, and sold in the grocery store. It’s everywhere, and it’s wonderful.

Cocktails

THE BITTER BAR

835 Walnut St., 303-442-3050

Second Place: St Julien Hotel and Spa

Third Place: OAK at fourteenth

Fourth Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Fifth Place: Bramble & Hare

Just the word “cocktail” triggers the imagination; think Bogart and Bacall oozing sexuality over a couple of mint-leafed concoctions in some sweaty tropical bar. Cocktails are powerful in many ways. Cocktails are tasty. Cocktails are sexy. They can be the life of the party or the solitary salute to the end of an evening alone. In the right hands… cocktails are art. And that brings us to The Bitter Bar, a place that has become downright famous for its ability to infuse art into its cocktails. Just tell the creative folks behind the bar where you want to go and then sit back and trust them to get you there. You’ll be glad you did, and so will Lauren.

Place to Get a Drink on a Summer Night

GOLD HILL INN

401 Main St., 303-443-6461

Imagine the dining hall of an old lodge on a dirt road where lazy dogs serve as speed bumps. You walk inside and find yourself in a historic log room with a grand fireplace at one end. There are rocking chairs in front of the fireplace and a beautiful full bar with a friendly bartender. Congratulations, you just imagined the Gold Hill Inn. The Gold Hill Inn is the best place this side of the Mississippi to sit and have a drink on a cool mountain evening.

Microbrewery

AVERY BREWING COMPANY

4910 Nautilus Court North, 303-440-4324

Second Place: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Third Place: Left Hand Brewing Company

Fourth Place: Upslope Brewing Company

Fifth Place: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew

We have so many wonderful microbreweries in Boulder County. They make dozens of different brews in dozens of different styles. They all have unique atmospheres, with some going for the industrial look while others go for the coffeehouse feel. Our readers’ selection for the best microbrewery is Avery Brewing Company, and that’s because they do a lot of things really well. Their new-ish digs in Gunbarrel are awe-inspiring. They have multiple drinking areas, a million or so house-made beers on tap and plenty of cool beer-making stuff to look at. The folks are friendly, and that includes the hundreds of patrons that visit the microbrewery every day.

Beer Selection — Restaurant

Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

Second Place: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

Third Place: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew

Fourth Place: Bohemian Biergarten

Fifth Place: Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom

We take beer seriously here in Colorado, so when our readers say a place has the best beer selection in all of Boulder County, we know they dang well mean it. So if you’re looking for a business that can provide a satisfying beer for everybody in your posse —from the rabid IPA aficionado to the staunch supporter of stout to the easy breezy lager lover —  one of the Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries is where you need to be. Mountain Sun and its sister in south Boulder, Southern Sun, offer up six- and 10-barrel brewery operations respectively, churning out local favorites like the mild and approachable Annapurna Amber, the hoptastic FYIPA and Boulder-Weekly-staff favorite, the Java Porter. So take a trip to the Sun closest to you, including Under the Sun, Long’s Peak and Vine Street — you won’t be disappointed.

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

Second Place: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Third Place: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Fourth Place: The Cup Espresso Cafe

Fifth Place: Brewing Market Coffee

There are few places on this planet that are as sacred as the coffeehouse. The ambiance has to be equal parts cozy, inspiring, relaxing and friendly. Whether you want to write a novel or read some poetry or watch cat videos on YouTube or just drink a really kick ass cup of coffee, the coffeehouse has to accommodate all patrons. Our readers tell us that Ozo Coffee Company offers the best. They have beans from around the world that are handled by expert roasters and then talented baristas. Stop on in, pull up a chair and prepare to stay a while. Trust us — you’ll want to.

Bar

THE BITTER BAR

835 Walnut St., 303-442-3050

Second Place: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Third Place: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Fourth Place: Bohemian Biergarten

Fifth Place: FATE Brewing Company

So a guy walks into a bar and…” You know the joke. Or jokes. But The Bitter Bar is no joking matter. With classic cocktails at the ready and plenty others to choose from, The Bitter Bar is once again Boulder’s favorite bar. Serving happy hour until 8 p.m. every Monday through Friday, with a food truck stationed in the parking lot on weekends, The Bitter Bar is a great place to hang out, meet new people and imbibe. With a speak-easy vibe, a loungey feel and a great patio to people-watch as people pass by, The Bitter Bar is a great place to kick back with some house-made bitters and relax.

Happy Hour

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Second Place: Brasserie Ten Ten

Third Place: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Fourth Place: FATE Brewing Company

Fifth Place: Boulder Cork

A great happy hour has to have three things: good food and drink; well-discounted prices; and a fun and energetic environment. If that’s your kind of happy hour then look no further than The Mediterranean Restaurant. Every day between 3 and 6:30 p.m., The Med discounts its many tapas, knocks a buck off beer and serves up one of the tastiest sangrias around for  $4 or $4.50, depending on whether you want white or red. Anyone who has been to happy hour at this place will tell you the atmosphere is fantastic. Loud but not too loud, crowded but not too crowded, it’s the exact happy hour that Goldilocks would have chosen.

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

Second Place: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Third Place: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Fourth Place: Starbucks

Fifth Place: Amante Coffee

Thanks a latte, Ozo Coffee Company, for making the best mocha around. Or latte. Perfecting the latte has seriously become an art in recent years, requiring exceptional milk-foaming skills and the perfect wrist snap to create a unique design to boot. And that’s just the looks — it also has to taste good. And as a newly licensed Specialty Coffee Association of America campus, you’re sure to find the best latte or mocha at any of Ozo’s three Boulder locations. Plus, they offer barista training and coffee education courses to the public. So head over to Ozo and find the perfect latte waiting for you. Or mocha.

Winery

SETTEMBRE CELLARS WINERY & TASTING ROOM

1501 Lee Hill Road, Suite 16, 303-532-1892

Boulder County gets a lot of well-deserved attention for our craft brewing scene, but over the last decade or so we’ve been witness to a fruitful local wine scene. With three winery tap rooms next to each other in North Boulder, and Augustina’s a few blocks away, folks can taste the best of Colorado wine in one afternoon. We think the best of those wineries, this year, is Settembre Cellars. They make precise wines that are born from exceptional craftsmanship, and they use only the best grapes around. Settembre specializes in single varietals, many of which you can taste at special events and dinners, or just by stopping by their Lee Hill tap room.

Teahouse

THE BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Second Place: Pekoe Sip House

Third Place: Ku Cha House of Tea

Fourth Place: Celestial Seasonings Café at CU

Fifth Place: A Cup of Peace

This teahouse was a long time in the making. Dushanbe, Tajikistan is one of Boulder’s sister cities. As a gesture of affection, craftsmen from Dushanbe hand-carved and painted this amazing example of a traditional Tajikistan teahouse. They then took it apart, packed it up and shipped it to Boulder, where it sat in a warehouse for many years because Boulder lacked the funds, expertise and location to reassemble it. Finally, with funding and location in hand, craftsmen from Dushanbe were flown in to assist in putting the teahouse back together again. Today, The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse stands as a symbol of global cooperation, architectural beauty and it’s even a really fantastic place to drink tea and enjoy a meal. Don’t miss it.

Lame excuse for not using the internet

BOULDER CITY COUNCIL

The internet is an amazing thing. For instance, if you want to understand every tiny detail of what the City of Portland is doing with regards to its homeless population, you just have to Google it. You’ll find pages of really helpful information about Portland’s homelessness and its solutions, its transportation issues and those solutions and its housing challenges and, of course, solutions. That darn internet is so amazing that between the websites and a couple of telephone calls, politicians in Boulder could literally understand everything that Portland has to offer it on these important issues without ever leaving town. But what fun would that be? Apparently, not enough for this City Council who, instead of working over the internet and phone lines, has decided instead to take an all-expense paid vacation to Portland on the taxpayer’s dime. And just for fun, they are taking along members of the business community so they can all sit around drinking lattes on the hotel veranda and get to know each other like real pals without a bunch of voters gawking at them. And building those relationships between elected officials and the business community is really important because we all know that city councils work best when it’s their buddies standing in front of them asking for a zoning change, right?  Wonder if Portland has an ethics page on its website?