Spring fever: Five sparkling cocktails for a warm Friday afternoon

With nothing but 60-plus degree weather in our immediate forecast, we're pretty psyched that spring is really starting to unfurl in the Mile High City, beckoning us out of our dark caves and into the warm, sun-kissed streets. In fact, it's enough to make us want to start out this nice weekend with some sort of sparkling cocktail. Like a spritz, a light, bubbly drink traditionally made with an Italian bitter alcohol, sparkling wine and soda water. Or some variation of the French 75, which mixes gin and champagne with just a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze lemon. Because to us, those drinks say "spring."

In case you're of a similar mentality, here (in no particular order) are a few of our favorite sparkling cocktails around town.


Squeaky Spritz at Squeaky Bean: For what's probably the best-known spritz in town, Squeaky Bean offers a traditional take on the classic Aperol spritz, combining the orange bittersweet liqueur with Prosecco and a hit of soda water, garnished with a fat green olive on a long toothpick.

Aperol Spritz at A' Côté Bar à Absinthe: Just a couple of blocks from the Bean, A Cote pours another take on the Aperol spritz, combining that liqueur with sparkling wine and grapefruit juice, which knocks some of the bite -- and viscosity -- off of the drink.

The spritz list at Pizzeria Locale: Though this new sibling to Frasca stocks a full bar, Pizzeria Locale's cocktail list is spritz-focused, featuring a line of the drinks made from amaro alcohols ranging from Cynar to Limoncello, Campari to Antica Carpano. And on a day like this, the spot's garage door facing Boulder's Pearl Street is sure to be open for part of the night -- which may be the closest you'll get to sitting on a patio in early March.

Rioja 75 at Rioja: This cocktail is sort of a merger of the French 75 and the spritz, blending gin, blood orange and a little bitter Campari, and then topping the whole thing off with Cava. Citrusy and refreshing, it's a good way to start a meal if you're headed to Rioja for the last night of Denver Restaurant Week.

Prosecco 75 at Pulcinella Pizzeria: Pulcinella also pours a traditional Aperol spritz, but we're partial to its Italian twist on the French 75, which mixes gin, Prosecco and limoncello (because limoncello is lemon and sugar, get it?), and garnishes it with a lemon twist. While waiting for a pizza at this Cherry Hills eatery, we always suck down one or two.

Thirsty for more? One of our favorite sparkling cocktails in town was Olivea's Nocturne, a sexy sipper made from fig puree, Averna and Prosecco. That just came off the list, but when we called to ask about it, the host told us the bar would still be able to make it for a couple more weeks.

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