Staziono at twelverestaurant
Kokopelli's may have been my least favorite bar in Denver. The service was awful and the space so dark and dirty, you couldn't have paid me to eat anything coming out of the kitchen. So I was glad to know that something, anything, had replaced it — even if I had to wonder why a fine-dining restaurant would move into a spot next to Big Daddy's Pawn. But once I stepped inside twelverestaurant, I couldn't believe I was in the same place. The heavy drapes were gone, and about thirty years of dirt, too. The big antique oak bar still filled one wall, though, and I walked over and asked the bartender if he made any specialty cocktails. He started telling me about his award-winning drink that will be in a book coming from Grand Marnier, and as he described it, all I could think was that this guy was giving the best cocktail foreplay ever. I couldn't wait to try it — but instead, I got the equivalent of a cock(tail) block when he told me he didn't have all the ingredients. Still, I had to forgive him: twelve had only been open three nights. As a consolation prize, I got a Karmarita ($10), with Hornitos Reposado, Triple Sec, O.J., fresh lime, fresh lemon, a splash of 7-Up, and fresh ground cardamom and cinnamon. It was good, but not as orgasmically good as my next cocktail: a Staziono ($10.50), made of Liquore Strega (an Italian 80-proof herbal concoction with a reputed seventy ingredients, including mint, saffron and fennel), Bombay gin, sage, orange rind, simple syrup and soda, and garnished with a leaf of fresh sage. It was so delicious and soothing, it made me weak in the knees. After one, I felt so relaxed I could have spent the afternoon at a spa. An expensive spa. With a hot masseuse named Georgio. Now, that's a happy ending — for both me and the new occupant of this address.
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.