You can sink a cheap drink at just about every watering hole in Denver, a city that's indisputably obsessed with the ritual of happy hour. The bar at Interstate Kitchen & Bar features a late-night happy hour, wherein a cooler of cold beers in cans -- barkeep's choice -- are a mere $9; the duo of daily happy hours at Virgilio's results in 20 percent off every bottle of premium and reserve wines, plus twenty-ounce sangrias for just $5; "Study Hall" at Euclid Hall pimps $3 draft beers, wines and well drinks from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. And all of those deals are damn good.
See also: - Ryan Leinonen on "Mr. Wizard," Velveeta, pig's nipples and the raw vegan - Best Late-Night Happy Hour - 2013 Interstate Kitchen & Bar - Best Late-Afternoon Happy Hour - 2013 Virgilio's Pizzeria & Wine Bar
But earlier this week, I encountered the new happy hour parade at Trillium, Ryan Leinonen's Scandinavian-inspired restaurant, bar and lounge in Ballpark, and it's a happy hour that's incredibly difficult to beat: twenty-ounce select draft beers are $4; six different well spirit-based cocktails also ring in at $4 each; and wine specials -- really good wines -- are $6 per pour.
But while the liquid assets are a killer bargain, it's Leinonen's smorgasbord of happy hour eats that really pulled me in. He's featuring ten dishes, all priced at $4, and they're the absolutely antithesis of your pedestrian grub. Here, the kitchen pumps out dishes that equate to a terrific dinner: headcheese, for crying out loud, paired with a smear of house mustard and pickled vegetables; Vermont maple syrup-smoked whitefish plated with a mound of carrot and turnip "kraut"; Akvavit cured Scottish salmon with a blot of chopped egg salad and crème fraîche; and tater tots dusted with truffle salt and paired with a rich hollandaise sauce saluted with lemon. The servings are generous, and most are easily shared, plus you can enjoy them in the lounge, a separate dining area bedecked with custom-made log tables, plenty of culinary reading materials, including cookbooks, and classy black sofas strewn with pillows.
You and a friend can easily share dinner for under $30, which is unheard of. Sure, the cocktails will pad the bill, but even with few of those added on, it's still a cheap date. And that's just the beginning of Trillium's happy hour assets: There are daily specials, as well, including a platter of three artisan cheeses, accoutrements and two sommelier wine pairings for $17, a deal that's offered every Wednesday.
Trillium's happy hour runs Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. If you need further tempting, take a look through our photo gallery showcasing what to eat and drink. Be happy.
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