Blood Orange Negroni at Salt
Salt occupies the corner that Tom's Tavern, a no-frills burger joint, held down for forty years — but the similarities end there. Salt's beautifully remodeled interior is made from mostly recycled and reclaimed materials gathered in Boulder, and shows that chef/owner Bradford Heap's commitment to using local sources extends far beyond his food. Salt's beverage director is Evan Faber, who previously managed the wine program at the nearby St Julien Hotel & Spa, and we quickly started talking about drinks — about homemade bitters, pre-Prohibition-style cocktails and, most important, Kold-Draft ice, which is all the rage right now. Faber said he hopes to have a Kold-Draft machine at Salt within the month (as far as I know, the only bars that have Kold-Draft ice in the metro area are Boulder's Bitter Bar and Colt & Gray). Although ice is the tasteless, virtually free part of your cocktail, it's also one of the most critical factors in how your drink tastes — if not immediately, then certainly by the end. Most bar ice is air-filled and melts faster than the ice cubes from a household freezer; with Kold-Draft ice, drinks stay colder and dilution is minimized significantly. As a result, the last sip of a drink is as good as the first. How is the ice made? The Kold-Draft machine shoots water into a super-cold upside-down ice tray; the water freezes one layer at a time, producing denser, purer ice. And as I drank my Blood Orange Negroni — made with Cap Rock Gin, Boissiere Extra Dry Vermouth, Aperol, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur and fresh blood-orange juice — I found myself hoping that Faber could get that Kold-Draft machine faster. The drink was superior when I started sipping, but halfway through, it was so watered down that it had lost most of the lip-smacking, bitter quality that the vermouth and Aperol impart and that is key to the flavor of a Negroni. Cap Rock Gin is such a fantastic locally distilled gin that it deserves the best: Just as better booze makes better cocktails, better ice does, too. "Thinking about this with Kold-Draft ice gets me hot," I told Faber. To which he responded, "Oh, the irony."
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.