Need to lay off the sauce? Try a mocktail at Euclid Hall

After all of the drinking we did in order to pick our booze-related awards in the Best of Denver 2011 -- like Best Martini, Best House Margarita, Best Dive Bar and Best New Bar -- (coupled with, uh, our normal food and booze pairing habits), we began to think of the gray, plaque-flecked, shriveled-up liver we saw on display the last time Body Worlds was in town, and we decided to take a night off from drinking. But reasoning that our momentary fear of cirrhosis shouldn't force us to endure a night of staying in and watching movies all by ourselves, we decided to hit a good bar -- and drink mocktails.

So we headed out to Euclid Hall, our pick for Best New Restaurant, and asked the affable bartender to create something non-alcoholic based on our affinity for drinks that are brown, bitter and stirred.

His take: A layered blend of house-made cherry grenadine (which actually isn't too sweet), house-made acidic sour mix, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice. It was a smart mix; the mocktail managed to give us the bitter, tart and sweet flavors we craved (and we only missed the whiskey a little bit), and it paired satisfactorily with a gravy- and cheese curd-smothered pile of fries.

We still think ordering mocktails is a little like going to the fine dining mecca and ordering the vegetarian-tasting menu, thus cheating yourself out of half the magic. But when you want to start a night slow to prolong the moment of booze-fueled climax, or for those occasions when you just don't want to -- or can't -- drink, we think it's time the sober sippers get a little more love. Plus, with all the house-made bitters, tinctures and tonics that we see in bars, we're willing to bet there are some excellent spirit-less substitutions out there, like that grapefruit-pineapple-cherry boat drink we got at Euclid Hall.

And when we find them, we'll report on them here.

Know of a good one? Tell us about it in the comments.

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