Cocktail of the Week: Booze With a Buzz at Amethyst Coffee

Cocktail of the Week: Booze With a Buzz at Amethyst Coffee
Kevin Galaba

No Sleep Till Denver at Amethyst Coffee
Amethyst Coffee cranked up the coffee pots for the first time last February, serving cups of espresso and pastries at 1111 Broadway, in the Metlo complex.
And two months ago, owner Elle Taylor secured a liquor license, adding a handpicked assortment of spirits to her offerings. Doing so multiplied the amount of ingredients she could blend, so she wrote a small but savvy cocktail menu; one of her most popular creations, called No Sleep Till Denver ($8), naturally combines coffee and booze, as well as a few other inventive ingredients that she assembles in-house.

Her cocktail menu is a bit more artful than you’d expect from a coffee-shop setting, and she pulls it off adeptly. Here’s what’s in No Sleep Till Denver:

2 ounces cold-brew coffee
1 ounce Grant “La Garrocha” amontillado sherry
2 ounces chamomile tea simple syrup
2 dashes house bitters

“This drink was actually born out of a cocktail competition,” Taylor says. “The original idea was to make a Manhattan variation with cold-brewed coffee as the base spirit.” No Sleep Till Denver features a naturally processed Panamanian cold-brewed coffee roasted by Commonwealth Coffee Roasters, located in the Park Hill neighborhood. “The natural roasting process gives it a little more fruit-forward notes,” Taylor says, “and a little bit of a heavier chocolate flavor, too.”

Taylor paired the cold-brew with sherry, a fortified wine from southern Spain. “I really love sherry,” she says, “and I thought amontillado was really nice, with its nuttiness and a little bit of butterscotch and raspberry.” Amontillado sherry is dark and dry, not overly sweet. La Garrocha amontillado’s nine-year aging includes exposure to oxygen, resulting in flavors of roasted nuts and burnt oranges. "It’s just balanced, and it kind of went right along with the coffee,” Taylor adds.

Blending coffee, herbs and spirits: Elle Taylor behind the bar at Amethyst Coffee.
Blending coffee, herbs and spirits: Elle Taylor behind the bar at Amethyst Coffee.
Kevin Galaba

But Taylor knew the recipe needed a lighter note. “It felt too heavy,” she says. “It was a little bit too much.” To solve the problem, she made a tea syrup and added it to her recipe — and it worked. “The uplift is the chamomile-based tea that’s super-floral. It adds some heather flowers and a little bit of softness.” To make the syrup, she starts with a tea sourced from Spellbound Herbals, run by a local herbalist who provides Amethyst with organic products.

Just a few drops of Taylor’s housemade bitters completes the recipe. “Our house bitters are super fennel-forward, so it adds a little bit of another herbaceous level,” she says. It also contains gentian root, cassia bark and the root of the angelica plant. The botanicals are steeped in alcohol for about three to four weeks before the liquid is strained and bottled.

Taylor notes that No Sleep Till Denver is best paired with a fresh-baked almond cookie ($2), made with almond paste and egg whites, then rolled in sliced almonds. “It’s just a nice little bite,” she says, “that adds to the whole experience.”

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