Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey has its roots in beer, since the Denver micro-distiller was founded by Aspen Renaissance man and gonzo legend George Stranahan, who also started Flying Dog Brewery, which left Colorado last year for Maryland. But the award-winning hooch producer got even deeper into the beer world recently, by deciding to give its used whiskey barrels to local breweries like Oskar Blues, which uses them to age some incredible special beers. And Oskar Blues is returning the favor, giving a hundred barrels of "wash" (unhopped, fermented beer) every week to Stranahan's, which runs it through the still to begin the whiskey-making process. How can you not drink to that?
Infamous on Colfax for both beginning and ending nights, often simultaneously, the Squire Lounge's Bionic Beaver is just like the suicide slushies of your childhood, only much more incapacitating. For ten bucks, watch in awe as the bartender fills a 52-ounce pitcher with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, PBR, grenadine and cranberry/orange/pineapple juices. This recipe is not exact, of course, but that's the beauty of the Beaver — you never quite know what's coming. Topped with a handful of neon-colored long straws and served with a mixed look of pity and respect, this colossal concoction is guaranteed to deliver. If all you receive is a headache and regret, well, don't say we didn't warn you.
The Donnybrook Writing Academy combines insightful, amusing writing and an ironic embrace of elitism for an unfailingly snarky look at the Denver music and arts scene. Music is the core concern of the Donnybrook crew, but the topics don't stop there. You can find everything from the invaluable sex advice of Ivyy Goldberg and opinions on Denver's most fuckable rock stars to the Snobcast podcast. This is also one of the most beautifully designed blogs not only in Denver, but in all of the worldwide blogosphere. In fact, it's your one-stop shop for proof that elitism in the defense of elitism is no vice. This blog should be required reading for hipsters everywhere.
Ziggies
Ziggie's has always been known as Denver's oldest blues bar, but Cherrie DuFour and Carla Jordan, who took over the place and remodeled it just over a year ago, have expanded the music selection by also bringing in R&B, funk, rock and jazz acts on Fridays and Saturdays. The other five nights are allotted to open mikes, alternately hosted by Doc Brown's Blues Band, Jasco from Mojambus, the Mike Maurer Band or Papa Juke. Whether you want to hone your chops with some stellar blues talent or just listen, Ziggie's is the place. And there's never a cover.
Vicki Myhren Gallery
Paul Soldner first became interested in ceramics while he was a student at the University of Colorado back in the 1960s. Over the next four decades, the California-based artist maintained a studio near Aspen that he used during the summer. Paul Soldner Ceramics, organized by Dan Jacobs for the University of Denver's Myhren Gallery, included pieces from a wide range of dates, but it was mostly filled with the artist's wild sculptures of smashed shapes done over the last ten years. The results were eye-popping.
New York-based conceptual photographer Carla Gannis took up the topic of the femme fatale for her BMoCA solo last summer. In doctored-up digital photos with appropriated imagery from Hollywood movies, Gannis placed a sexy young woman in the midst of the action. The large, elegant color photos typically simmered with erotic content or with violence — or the threat of it. Although many contemporary artists work along the same lines, Gannis stood out by giving her series a compelling narrative.
Bender's Tavern
You know a DJ's got mad skills when he's flown in every week just to host a club night. Such is the life of DJ Klaw, whose main gig is manning the decks at motocross champion Carey Hart's club in Vegas. Around the same time that Hart and Klaw unveiled Mommy's Little Monster at Wasted Space in Vegas's Hard Rock Hotel, Klaw launched a similar night at Bender's Tavern on Thursdays. Taking its name from Social Distortion's 1983 debut, Mommy's Little Monster features Klaw and residents DJs Deftron and El Brian throwing down the best of hip-hop, electro, breakbeat, mash-ups and gutter punk. And if the music doesn't entice you, the Ghetto Bottle Service might: Bring five friends and eight bucks, and enjoy a bottle of booze and mixers on the house.
NV Lounge
Eric Gruneisen
The Continental Club had a lot of potential, but it only lasted a year. In January, former 15th Street Tavern owner Myke Martinez teamed up with musicians Desi Gonzalez and Maia Fortis to buy the spot, and they immediately began fixing it up. They made the stage bigger and painted it with black and white zigzags, dubbing it the David Lynch stage. Indeed, the red velvet behind the stage gives it a Lynchian feel. Hell, they even show Twin Peaks on Sundays. With all three owners being musicians, they've beefed up the music, bringing in a steady stream of punk, metal and rock. And when there's no live music, they've got DJs spinning metal, honky-tonk and a whole lot more. Martinez still hopes to resurrect the 15th Street Tavern someday in another spot; in the meantime, One Eyed Jacks will easily do the trick.
Novo Coffee
Not long ago, it would have been obscene for ritzy restaurant menus to name-drop their brand of coffee. But that's happening around here all the time now — especially when the coffee being used is Denver-based Novo Coffee. And that makes sense, since the family-owned Novo crafts coffee like other boutique outfits craft great wine or beer, seeking out the best beans around the world, roasting them in their Larimer Street facility and obsessively instructing their customers and clients on the best way to extract nuanced nectars from the grounds. The results have been named some of the best in the country, and Novo's main coffee bar, across the street from the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building, has become a caffeine-fanatic mecca. Isn't it time you took a sip of perfection?
A large part of what makes Lauri Lynnxe Murphy — the local artist, artrepreneur, scene-maker and Westword MasterMind — tick is her utter confidence in all that she does. When she decides to open a store, she opens a store. When she decides to put more energy back into being an artist with connections, she's an artist with connections. And, it goes without saying, when she decided to make a subjective book of photographs she's taken over the years of thrift-store junk and strange figurines, she — yep — went out and made a book, American Dream: Portraits of Things, which is available for sale online at www.blurb.com. It's a delightfully creepy slice of kitschy Americana, and besides, as Murphy herself notes on the front flap, "No tschotchkes were harmed in the making of this book!"

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