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Hawaiian Sun Margarita at the Flagstaff House

Whether you're gazing at Boulder or studying your drink, the Flagstaff is looking good.
Whether you're gazing at Boulder or studying your drink, the Flagstaff is looking good.

I lived in New York City after college and longed for the day I could go to one of the many expensive restaurants I read about in New York magazine — but I was barely able to pay my rent, much less splurge on an expensive meal. That, of course, just made me hungrier to try New York's iconic restaurants. I wanted to know what they looked like inside, how they smelled, what people were wearing. I wanted to see what it would feel like to be there. Luckily, I soon learned that while a sit-down dinner was out of reach, a cocktail and appetizer at the bar was a delightful way to experience a restaurant that was otherwise way out of my league. And even now that I'm back in Denver with a much fatter wallet, I still find that even in iconic Colorado restaurants, a bar stool is sometimes the best seat in the house. I recently visited the Flagstaff House, a Boulder institution and major destination restaurant; every date who's ever taken me there has scored serious romance points. The setting alone puts your head in the clouds, and that floating feeling is enhanced by the fine-dining service, fantastic food and world-class wine list (the cellar holds 20,000 bottles) — although the checks can also seem sky-high. This time, though, I sat on the cocktail deck overlooking Boulder, where you get that same million-buck view but a final tab won't set you back quite that far. In a salute to both the scenery and the Flagstaff's sister restaurant, Monettes, on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island, I tried the Hawaiian Sun Margarita ($15), made with Cuervo Gold, mango purée and Grand Marnier. As I watched the sun set over another iconic Colorado evening, I toasted being thousands of miles away from New York City, both in actual distance and life experiences. And bar tabs.

 
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