Best of Boulder 2019 — Drink

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Sarah Current, Spirit Hound Distillery employee and bartender
Sue France

Distillery 

SPIRIT HOUND DISTILLERS

4196 Ute Highway (U.S. 36), Lyons, 303-823-5696

Silver: Vapor Distillery

Bronze: Longtucky Spirits

Write-in: 12 Point DistilleryW

Walk into Spirit Hound Distillers and you’re transported back in time, to the era of hard-working cowboys and deep-seeded passions for fine spirits. At this distillery, spirits are made with Colorado-sourced ingredients, like freshly picked juniper berries and barley grown in Alamosa. Most of its equipment has been hand- or custom-built to ensure ultimate care for every bottle of whisky, gin, vodka, sambuca, moonshine and other seasonal spirits (all of which are available to sample in their tasting room).

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, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Bronze: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse 

Write-in: Beleza Coffee BarT

There are a lot of coffee categories on the Best of Boulder reader survey. But when it comes to bragging rights, no category rises to the heights of the simplest, most straightforward category of all — best cup of coffee. Once again, Ozo Coffee Company has shown itself to be the best place in Boulder County to get a great cup of joe. There are a million variations on a cup of coffee you can order, but our readers know they all start with the ability to make the perfect cup of black coffee. And that perfect cup is at Ozo’s.

Cidery

ACREAGE CIDERHOUSE BY STEM CIDER

1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007

Silver: St. Vrain Cidery

Bronze: Wild Cider 

Founded by two passionate entrepreneurs, Eric Foster and Phil Kao, Acreage Ciderhouse by Stem Ciders pulls together a deep appreciation for craft ciders and a strong commitment to keeping the cider tradition alive under one roof. Since their first batch of cider in 2011, the duo has continued to refine and evolve their process, much to our readers’ delight. Stop by their tavern to sample the seasonal and special ciders on tap.

Sue France There’s no better place to watch a sunset than from Acreage Ciderhouse by Stem Ciders. Just ask CoFounder and CEO Eric Foster.

Happy Hour

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries

Bronze: Brasserie Ten Ten 

The Mediterranean Restaurant features not just one happy hour every day, but two happy hours. If you can’t make it into this fine establishment, built on the pillars of Mediterranean fusion, during the traditional 3-6:30 p.m. window, make your way over for “late happy hour.” Every night, once the clock strikes 9 p.m., the same great pricing on drinks and the restaurant’s famous tapas kicks in… again. Enjoy discounts on draft beers, sangria, house wine, well cocktails and margaritas, as well as any of the iconic hot and cold tapas. 

Reader Comment: “Freaking love ziggi’s! I love the variety and the service is always so great and friendly. plus, their espresso is so smooth and creamy.”

Cocktail

THE BITTER BAR

835 Walnut St., 303-442-3050

Silver: License No. 1

Bronze: St Julien Hotel & Spa

Gin. Vodka. Whiskey. Bourbon. Rum. Throw in some bitters or tonic water or a splash of a liqueur. These may be the cocktail basics, but nothing about The Bitter Bar is basic. The fine mixologists take these base ingredients and turn them into masterpieces in a glass. There are classics like a martini or old fashioned and unique mixes like the Orange Cadillac or the Captain Ron, plus, a handful of pre-made cocktails on tap. Regardless what you get, our readers agree, these cocktails don’t disappoint. 

The Bitter Bar Bar Manager, Ryan Oak Fletter
Sue France

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, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Bronze: Brewing Market Coffee 

Write-in: Paul’s Coffee & TeaA

At Ozo Coffee Company, coffee is more a way of life than a morning beverage. There’s an art to roasting the perfect cup of coffee, and it starts with sustainably sourcing expertly grown and harvested coffee beans. Ozo sources beans from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Ethiopia and more, and offers roasts that range from the welcome and approachable to the lively. Ozo’s Lab and Training Center even offers business trainings for industry newcomers with their staff and wholesale accounts, as well as public coffee education courses. These folks know coffee. 

Staff Pic: Bloody Mary

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

2124 14th St., Boulder, 303-442-4743; 518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814; luciles.com

Some say bloody marys are an acquired taste: a mixture of spicy tomato, vodka and various other ingredients, with a stick of celery thrown in for good measure. To the undiscerning palate, it might not sound appetizing, but bloody marys are special, bringing back memories of late nights requiring this classic hangover cure, or memories of long brunches with good friends. BW staff can’t help but recommend the Cajun bloody marys at Lucile’s Creole Cafe in both Boulder and Longmont. The spices are just right, especially when paired with a meal off the stellar menu. Plus, Lucile’s sells its bloody mary mix by the bottle so you can always take some to go and enjoy at home. 

Teahouse

BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Silver: Ku Cha House of Tea

Bronze: Pekoe Sip House

Write-in: Precision Pours

Over 5,000 years ago, as the legend goes, the Chinese emperor Shen Nong was boiling drinking water and, accidentally, dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into his pot. The result was the discovery of tea. In honoring this ancient art of steeping herbs and leaves, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse hosts afternoon tea rituals every day. Beginning at 3 p.m., premium tea is accompanied by tiered towers of sweet and savory pastries, sandwiches and scones — all baked fresh every morning. With impeccable decor and a building that was imported directly from Tajikistan, nothing beats this teahouse.

Sue France Dushanbe Teahouse employee Sam Tallent

Wine Selection

FRASCA FOOD AND WINE

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Silver: Flagstaff House 

Bronze: Boulder Cork 

Write-in: Arcana

Wine is so much more than a beverage — it’s a gift, it’s a thank you note, it’s an apology, it’s a celebration. The various expressions a bottle of wine carries get even more refined the closer you look. White wines, bubbly wines, aged wines, red wines, sweet wines — one could convey a whole novel’s worth of emotions over the course of a customized tasting flight. Maybe that can feel overwhelming. Luckily, Frasca Food and Wine is equipped with the best wine selection in Boulder County, and the brightest sommeliers constantly curate its list. Let the folks at Frasca help you express yourself with the perfect bottle of wine.

Chai

BHAKTI CHAI

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

Silver: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Bronze: Sherpa Chai

According to Bhakti Chai’s website, bhakti is “the idea that no matter your station in life, you have a responsibility to contribute to your community and create lasting impact in ways large and small.” Our voters agree: The company’s impact on Boulder County and beyond is huge. With a variety of chai drinks sold both in stores and cafes (pretty much anywhere you go), plus its unique blend of fresh ginger, other traditional spices and no additives, Bhakti Chai is a gift to all of us. But it also charges us all to go out and do the same — contribute to the community around us however we can. 

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, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse 

Bronze: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Write-in: Beleza Coffee Bar 

Each of Ozo Coffee Company’s four locations has a different vibe, but you know you’re going to get a great cup of coffee and stellar customer service no matter which store you visit. Meet a new client at the Ozo on Pearl Street for a lively coffeehouse experience, or maybe bike over to the Arapahoe location for a laid back cup of joe on a Saturday morning. Or maybe you prefer East County, and bring the entire family in to the Longmont location for treats. Whichever you choose, you’ll probably see a friend or two, and if not, chances are you’ll make a new one; after all you’ve got great taste in coffee in common. 

Bar

RAYBACK COLLECTIVE

2775 Valmont Road, 303-214-2127

Silver: The Bitter Bar

Bronze: Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries 

Chances are, you already know why our readers chose Rayback Collective as the best bar in Boulder County. Heck, we’ve probably seen you there a few times, and maybe even shared a beer, cocktail or kombucha. Rayback’s appeal is twofold: Its got a world-class selection of craft beer that changes with the seasons and a beautiful, spacious area in which to enjoy your beverage of choice. Go to get work done, go to play corn hole, go for the food trucks, go to catch up with friends, go to listen to music or watch the big game… the point is, just go.

Staff Pic: Local Kombucha

Rowdy Mermaid

2775 Valmont Road, Boulder, 303-241-2127, rowdymermaid.com

Kombucha may seem like the latest hipster health trend, a craze that reaches across the country and probably even the world. But it’s actually a drink with more than 2,000 years of tradition and myriad health benefits. Luckily for us in Boulder County, there’s no shortage of places serving up local Rowdy Mermaid kombucha, whether on tap or in bottles. Using seasonal and sustainable practices with fresh herb, root and flower ingredients sourced from around the world, Rowdy Mermaid is made with passion — a passion we can taste.

Juice/Smoothie

WONDER PRESS

946 Pearl St., 720-484-4927

Silver: Jamba Juice

Bronze: Alfalfa’s Market

Name any color of the rainbow and Wonder Press will have it bottled on display in its west Pearl storefront. The red, of course, would be a beet-based juice; green, most likely, will be pressed leafy vegetables; blue, that’s the algae-based juice; yellow? Ginger apple. At this light and airy shop, cold-pressed juices and nut milks are 100-percent organic and pressed with the highest-quality machines. It’s a healthy way to taste the rainbow. 

Sue France Wonder Press Lead Barista Evangelynn Fortuna

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, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689

Silver: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse 

Bronze: Boxcar Coffee Roasters

Write-in: Beleza Coffee Bar

Ozo Coffee Company’s mocha menu is an entire page long. They’ve got almond joy mochas (dark chocolate with almond and coconut), loch ness mochas (dark chocolate with Irish cream and a hint of mint), zebra mochas (dark chocolate and white chocolate) — the list goes on and on and on and that’s just the mocha menu. They have artful, delicious lattes too! Our readers know the secret to Ozo’s success: creativity, approachability and versatility. 

Beer Selection (Restaurant)

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886; 627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

Bronze: Oskar Blues Brewery (various locations)

Our readers chose the Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries as the establishments with the best beer selection. It’s no wonder why: Mountain Sun is constantly churning out unique beer styles that never waver in quality. Kolsch, India black ale, ginger wheat, smoked porter, hoppy rye… Mountain Sun does them all, and does them well. And those are just the rotators — Mountain Sun’s stable of house classics, from the Java Porter to the Colorado Kind Ale, are simply perfect.

Friendliest Barista

Brian at Neptune Mountaineering

633 S. Broadway, Boulder, 303-449-8866, neptunemountaineering.com

Full disclosure: Neptune Mountaineering is located across from the Boulder Weekly office. So when the classic Boulder establishment underwent a major remodel this past year, we were curious to see how it all changed. Lucky for us, it now includes a cafe serving up local Ampersand coffee (in addition to Spruce Confections eats and a variety of other local treats). Add that to the fact that the regular barista, Brian, is one of the friendliest baristas we’ve encountered, and we’d call that a winner. He’s there most days so make sure to stop in and say hi.

Reader Comments: “Oh, those Mai Tais at McDevitt Taco Supply are amazing. Can’t wait to get back there.”

Craft Brewery

AVERY BREWING COMPANY

4910 Nautilus Court North, 303-440-4324

Silver: Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries 

Bronze: Upslope Brewing Company

Could there be a more competitive category in Boulder County than Best Craft Beer? Nope. Which is why Avery Brewing Company being chosen as our readers’ favorite is such an impressive win. But hey, these guys are used to winning big. In 1994, just one year after the brewery’s launch, Avery’s Out of Bounds Stout took home the gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest. And they’ve been winning gold ever since, all the while leading the industry with innovation and creativity. And did we mention they are really nice people who constantly find ways to support our local communities? They do. Congrats, Avery, you deserve it. 

Avery Brewing Company employee Nicole Blackley
Sue France

Reader Comment: “Missing the hottest and newest coffee shop in Boulder (in the former Vic’s Broadway space): Beleza Coffee Bar.”

“Best coffee is Beleza!”

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: McDevitt Taco Supply 

Every day since 1986 has been a celebration of the margarita at Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. But now, more than ever, the newly renovated Boulder restaurant is honoring this beloved cocktail with a bar-focused layout and a whole tequila wall (adjacent to the bar) dedicated to hand-selected, premium liquor. Try a classic Rio marg, always available on the rocks or frozen, or one of the Rio’s customized spins, like the big Tex marg, the fresh jalapeño marg or the skinny marg. These suckers are good, but there is a three-marg limit for drinkers. Trust us, you’re good at three. 

Reader Comment: “Bin 46 in Longmont has over 532 wines
on the bottle list — underrated and over-delivers.”