Best of Boulder East County 2013: Drink

Brandon Fuelling, bar manager at Waterloo
Photo by Susan France

809 S. Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Second Place: Pumphouse
Third Place: Harold’s Restaurant & Lounge
Fourth Place: Miller’s Bar and Grill
Fifth Place: Miner’s Tavern

Like great songwriters and poets who can take a cliché and turn it around to make it fresh and new again, great mixologists can turn familiar drinks into unexpected adventures by giving the ingredients a good shakedown, not just a stir. At Waterloo, such is the case with the trendy Moscow Mule. You know, that drink you see all the 20-somethings getting in copper mugs. The traditional mule comes with vodka. At Waterloo, they’ll mix lime juice and ginger beer with rum, gin, whiskey or tequila (that one’s called the Donkey Show …). We recommend trying them all. Just not all in the same night.

Margaritas get a fresh take as well in the Lone Star, which muddles cucumber and jalapeño in with the agave, tequila and lime juice.

Not a mixed drinks drinker? They’ve got a $3 pint of the day that ranges from Brit classic Boddingtons to locally made beers from Avery and Left Hand. Once again, Waterloo proves as relatable as every good poet, er, um. Sure. We’ll go with that.


816 Main St., Louisville, 303-665-2521
Second Place: The Melting Pot
Third Place: Harold’s Restaurant & Lounge
Fourth Place: Colterra

Fifth Place: Henry’s Bar & Grill

We all know that the food at the Empire Lounge & Restaurant is amazing. But did you know that the cocktails are just as spectacular? That’s what our readers tell us. Like the food, every cocktail at the Empire is made with care and, when possible, sourced with fresh local ingredients. Besides, who wants to knock down a drink at a bar when you can have a luxurious cocktail in a lounge? See, just saying the word “lounge” makes everything taste better.

And sticking to that theme, our readers also love the cocktails at Longmont’s Harold’s Restaurant & Lounge, where locally sourced ingredients like cucumber make for great specialty cocktails. Mixology is a beautiful thing. Bottoms up.

Happy Hour
637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-5743
Second Place: Sugarbeet
Third Place: Empire Lounge & Restaurant
Fourth Place: Zucca Italian Ristorante
Fifth Place: Niwot Tavern

Few hours are happier than those in the day when the beer becomes a little bit cheaper. At Lucky Pie, those hours are 4-6 p.m. daily. Pair it with a bit of pizza or a selection from the house-made mozzarella bar and you’re probably all the happier.

Not in the Louisville area when the time to cheer up rolls around? Check out Sugarbeet in Longmont, where from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday craft beers are $3.50, wines are $3 off per glass and small plates ring in at just $5.50. Come on and get happy.

Beer Selection
637 Front St., Louisville 303-666-5743
Second Place: Old Chicago
Third Place: Mike O’Shay’s Restaurant & Ale House
Fourth Place: Waterloo
Fifth Place: Niwot Tavern

Everyone knows that beer goes well with pizza, and when it comes to beer selection, Lucky Pie is our readers’ favorite. Lucky Pie, which also has a location in Denver’s LoDo, has an impressive lineup of microbrews on tap, including locally produced favorites. And when you want something to help absorb that beer, you’re not just limited to pizza, because they have an array of distinctive bar snacks you don’t expect to find at a tap house, like chicken liver mousse and bacon peanut brittle. By the way, our whole pizza-and-beer theory is further confirmed by the establishment that came in second place: Old Chicago.

101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544
451 S. Pratt Pkwy., Longmont, 720-494-0777
1630 N. 63rd St., Boulder, 303-440-4045
Second Place: 3 Margaritas
Third Place: Si Señor Real Mexican Food
Fourth Place: Casa Alegra
Fifth Place: Old Santa Fe Mexican Grille

Hugo Delgado, bartender at Efrain’s in Lafayette | Photo by Susan France

You’ve heard the claim; if you want to be great at something, then you have to put in your 10,000 hours.

We think that explains why Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina’s margaritas are so darn good. By our calculation, this family-owned restaurant passed its 10,000 hours of whipping up these tasty tequila concoctions more than a quarter of a century ago.

So if you are of the belief that practice makes perfect, then your quest to find the perfect margarita will come to an end when you order up a “top shelf, salt and rocks” at Efrain’s.

Clearly our readers have great taste.

543 Terry St., Longmont, 303-651- 2772

We live in a golden era. For proof, look no further than the martini, a simple, two-ingredient-plus-garnish concoction with a history of at least 100 years.

Back in the day — around the turn of the century, Australian Bartender tells us — martinis used to be equal parts gin and dry vermouth, a ratio that these days might get more than a few disapproving looks. Only gradually did the ratio tip toward gin, eventually leading to  mid-20th century playwright Noël Coward’s infamous recipe, “filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy,” a vermouth producer. Bartenders at Martini’s Bistro put in a lot more effort than Coward did, and the results are evident: strong, balanced, classic cocktails worth a stop in the house-turned-bistro two blocks off Longmont’s Main Street.

Coffee House
990 S. Public Road, Suite B-3, Lafayette, 785-331-6424
Second Place: Brewing Market
Third Place: Cannon Mine Coffee
Fourth Place: Bittersweet Café & Confections
Fifth Place: Ziggi’s Coffee House

Go, Lafayette and your non-chain coffee.

There’s nothing at all wrong with a small regional chain, and when it comes to coffee shops, they’re very common. Brewing Market has a strong following and takes second here. But the independent non-chains, led by winner Proper Grounds, take four of five spots. Proper Grounds’ dedication to ethical sourcing wins fans across the county. Each city boasts a winner, as Lafayette is represented by Proper Grounds and Cannon Mine, Louisville by Bittersweet and Longmont by Ziggi’s.

990 S. Public Road, Suite B-3, Lafayette, 785-331-6424
Second Place: Cannon Mine Coffee
Third Place: Starbucks
Fourth Place: Bittersweet Café & Confections
Fifth Place: Brewing Market

Samantha Krejcik, a barista at Proper Grounds in Lafayette. | Photo by Susan France

The passion that Proper Grounds owner/founder Cody Osborn has for making high-quality coffee is evidenced by the company’s mission statement, which pledges to be “dedicated to ethically sourcing, mindfully roasting and consciously distributing specialty grade coffee from around the world” and “making good everyday decisions to ensure that any lasting impact we may have, whether it be on the farmers, the consumers, the local community, or the Earth, is a positive one.” In the latte department, for which it won this award, specialties include Pumpkin Crème and Banana Crème. Indeed, Lafayette has become a hotbed for local java aficionados, because nearby Cannon Mine took second place.

Wine Selection
110 Pratt St., Longmont, 303-651-3330
Second Place: Via Toscana
Third Place: Empire Lounge & Restaurant
Fourth Place: Colterra

With more than 50 bottles to choose from on its wine-by-the-bottle list and $3 off all wines by the glass during happy hour, Sugarbeet emerged victorious in our voting for best wine selection in East County. This spot is truly one of Longmont’s elite dining establishments as well, so its distinctive gourmet dishes may actually be enhancing the taste of the wine. They actually taste even better when you’re sitting on their patio, it’s been scientifically demonstrated. Coming in second was Via Toscana in Louisville, which boasts more than 600 wine selections.

1265 Boston Ave., Longmont, 303-772-0258
Second Place: Oskar Blues
Third Place: Odd 13 Brewing
Fourth Place: Twelve Degree Brewing
Fifth Place: Gravity Brewing

Fresh off of a three-medal haul at Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand Brewing Company wins another award, one that is more local in scale but hardly less competitive. The Longmont-based brewery, which distributes across the country, takes home the first-ever East County award for best microbrewery. This is no surprise: Left Hand is the oldest brewing company on the list, and its name is an homage to Chief Niwot, whose tribe made its home in the area close to the brewery. Try the Nitro Milk Stout or the Sawtooth for easy-to-drink and tasty beers, or try the Fade To Black series for something a little more adventurous.

700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Second Place: Celestial Seasonings
Third Place: Proper Grounds Coffee Roasters
Fourth Place: Café de Paris
Fifth Place: The Stone Cup & Kitchen

Once upon a time, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses in lands far across the pond sat down for an afternoon indulgence of tea and tiny sandwiches. We brought a bit of this tradition to the states, and in the spirit of royalty, it often remains a white glove affair — and every bit as intimidating.

But at The Huckleberry, they’ve tossed that notion tea-leaf tips over teakettle and embraced an idea of elegant but accessible afternoon teas. You’ll still find tiered display of white plates replete with sandwiches and the fresh-baked teatime favorite: scones. And if you choose instead to start your day at The Huckleberry, you’ll still get to enjoy a remarkable selection of teas hand selected in Asia with Boulder County sippers in mind.

Coffee Roaster
990 South Public Road, Suite B-3, Lafayette, 785-331-6424
Second Place: Brewing Market Coffee
Third Place: Flatirons Roasters
Fourth Place: The Coffee Syndicate

Cody and Trista Osborn only just opened Proper Grounds, but they’re already making an indelible impression. And for folks who reportedly roasted their beans in a popcorn popper, they’ve come quite far. The coffee shop/coffee roasting outfit is more than willing to take care of all the hard work for you, so that you can relax and enjoy an expertly prepared cup of coffee accompanied by hand-made chocolates and local confections. And don’t fret. They make sure that each bean comes from an ethical source, ensuring that the environmental and social impacts of their coffee comes from as informed and conscious a place as possible.