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There are plenty of high-end cocktail caves tucked into Denver's trendiest 'hoods, but Ste. Ellie, an intriguing fifty-seat boutique and small-plates retreat in the underbelly of Colt & Gray, rises above the rest. Although the black-and-white color palette, moody lighting, modular chairs and crescent-shaped booths are ambience-rich and obligingly swank, owner Nelson Perkins and head barman Kevin Burke have smartly assembled a behind-the-bar cast that harbors none of the snoot that too often plagues cocktail bars whose aesthetics are 100-proof highbrow. Fifteen cocktails -- a fair split between classic and current, all impeccably accomplished -- are augmented by a "based-on- your-preferences" bartender's choice, potent punch for a crowd, and a well-curated selection of wines, champagne and beer. There's no shortage of food cred here, either: Try the clams and octopus with viande 'nduja (an Italian pork sausage) or the duck-confit poutine.