LoHi Punch at Brider
Some cocktail ingredients grow on trees, and some actually are the trees — and they’re delicious. When Bryan Dayton opened Brider in January, he and general manager Jason Isch left the city and foraged the nearby landscape for fresh flavors, finding them in juniper berries, lavender flowers and even needles of pine trees. Returning to Brider’s kitchen, they made a syrup out of those foraged botanicals and blended it with rum, fresh-squeezed fruit juice and a housemade grenadine, calling the result LoHi Punch ($10). The punch is batched in quantities of about five gallons, then kegged and added to Brider’s nitrogen-powered draft cocktail system.
Here’s what Dayton and Isch combined to make a truly Colorado-inspired cocktail:
1.5 ounces Flor de Caña 4-year Extra-Dry rum
.5 ounce orange juice
.5 ounce pineapple juice
.25 ounce lemon juice
.5 ounce grenadine
.25 ounce lavender-juniper-pine needle syrup
“We always like to put a riff on a cocktail,” Isch says. “Our riff is a simple syrup that uses ingredients that grow here on the Front Range. It turns out that young white pine is the best way to go.”
After making the syrup, the bartenders decided to use rum to create a cocktail that would be light and summery. Isch chose Flor de Caña’s Extra Dry rum, unique in that it’s a white rum but is still aged for four years. “We wanted something that was easygoing,” Isch says. “Tiki drinks aren’t necessarily our thing, but we thought that we could get away with it because everything is fresh.”
The freshness in his recipe comes not only from the locally sourced botanicals in his syrup, but also from a trio of cold-pressed juices. “The object is to make as much as we can in-house,” Isch says. By cold-pressing juice, he's able to keep all the freshness and nutrients that are lost by juicing methods that generate heat. Brider has a hydraulic press so that fruit can be shredded and juiced with no additional processing.
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After pulling a few ounces of the cocktail from the tap behind the bar, Isch shakes it vigorously and strains it over fresh ice. He then carefully drizzles a housemade grenadine syrup over the top of the cocktail, which sinks to the bottom of the glass.
“We make the finishing procedure relatively simple,” Isch says, “so we can make cocktails that are well-balanced and delicious, and make them easy, so they’re accessible to everybody. That fits with our concept of fast and casual.”
LoHi Punch is one of four kegged cocktails behind Brider’s long white marble bar. Also on draft are two housemade sodas, five draft beers, kombucha and coffee.
“It’s super-fun to play in this format,” Isch explains. "It kind of opens our horizons. It kind of gets a little science-y, which I think is really fun.”