In 2015, our resident expert on all things shaken and stirred, Kevin Galaba, went on a weekly mission to uncover cocktail recipes from Denver's top bartenders. He tasted his way through, tequila, gin, bourbon and spirits ever more esoteric and exotic and chatted with the women and men behind the shakers to round up what's happening in the city's craft-cocktail scene. Here are five excellent recipes you can try at home. For more photos from the series — plus a few from fun cocktail events last year — see our complete slideshow.
1. The Smoking Barrel
Adelitas Cocina y Cantina
Bartender: Nathan Schmit
.75 ounce El Buho mezcal
.75 ounce Dewar’s white-label blended Scotch whisky
.5 ounce Bonal Gentiane Quina
.5 ounce Nardini amaro
Pour all ingredients into a double Old-Fashioned glass filled with with ice and stir. Rub the rim of the glass with the outside edge of a grapefruit peel, then drop the peel into the drink.
2. The Crown Manhattan
The Crown Social
Bartender: Chelsea Carey
3 ounces Dancing Pines bourbon
1 ounce Leopold Brothers Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
.25 ounce Dancing Pines black walnut liqueur
2 dashes of Cocktail Punk aromatic bitters
Pour all ingredients into a shaker tin, over ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
3. The Groni
Dos Santos Taqueria de Mexico
Bartender: Raul Ramos
.5 ounces Fidencio Clasico mezcal
.25 ounce La Venenosa raicilla
1 ounce Yzaguirre Classico Bianco vermouth
.5 ounce Leopold Brothers Aperitivo
Fill a small Mason jar with ice. Add all ingredients and garnish with an orange peel.
4. Green Girls in Paris
Black Eye Coffee
Bartender: Ted Glyn
1.5 ounces Paddy’s Irish Whiskey
Demerara sugar cube
dash of DRAM Apothecary sage bitters
Rinse of Kubler absinthe
Splash a bar spoon of absinthe into a cocktail glass, swirl to coat the inside of the glass, then discard. (If you're making it for yourself, just drink the extra absinthe.) Set the glass to the side. Drop a Demerara sugar cube into a mixing glass. Add a dash of bitters and muddle the cube until it dissolves with the bitters. Add ice. Pour in the whiskey and stir. Strain the contents into the cocktail glass. Top with the Chartreuse foam. Garnish with a sage leaf.
5. Thai Mai Tai
Bartender: Topher Hartfield
1 ounce Thai basil-infused Don Q Cristal rum
.75 ounce Ron Abuelo Añejo seven-year-old rum
.75 ounce fresh lime juice
.5 ounce orgeat
.5 ounce coconut cream
.5 ounce Thai basil-infused simple syrup
2 dashes of pastiche bitters
Pour all ingredients into a shaker tin without ice and shake vigorously. Pour ingredients over crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil, a lime wedge, and a coconut flute cookie.