Colorado Concierge: The Best Places for Large-Format Cocktails

The Derby Day Mint Julep at Tupelo Honey, a large-format version of this classic cocktail.
The Derby Day Mint Julep at Tupelo Honey, a large-format version of this classic cocktail. Laura Shunk

We’ve all been faced with the “Where should we go?” question. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but other times we need help. Whether it’s finding the perfect place to celebrate the right occasion, determining what kitchen can accommodate an unusual dietary restriction, or maybe just discovering a new place to satisfy a late-night craving, we've got you covered. The Colorado Concierge will help you find the best restaurant, bar or cafe to suit your specific needs.

When challenged to find a good spot for imbibing with a group, there's no shortage of options, but there are definitely a variety of places that offer more than the standard selection of beverages. Enter a newer wave of establishments dedicating portions of their menus to large-format cocktails, suitable for groups of anywhere from two to eight people to enjoy. Not only do these places provide a fun detour from the average mixed drink, but a group cocktail adds an element of interaction unmatched by individual glassware. Plus, the big bowls and buckets of booze can sometimes be cost-effective. Here are five Denver establishments offering awesome cocktails meant for sharing.

Adrift Tiki Bar
208 South Broadway

When the group behind Little Man Ice Cream purchased Adrift Tiki Bar last summer and reopened in September, they preserved the bar's funky Polynesian vibe and elevated the food and beverage programs. A vibrant collection of tiki cocktails adorned with floral and fruity garnishes take the stage at Adrift, along with three featured shareable cocktails, including the Baker Fire Bowl (four types of rum, cassis, banana, orange, pineapple, pomegranate), the Scorpion Bowl (white rum, gin, brandy, lemon, orange, orgeat, mint, white wine) and a Planter's Punch (dark rum, apricot, Pimento Dram, lemon, orange, grenadine). Each of these cocktails can be ordered for two or four people, with the price reflecting the size.

click to enlarge The well-stocked bar at El Five. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
The well-stocked bar at El Five.
Danielle Lirette
El Five
2930 Umatilla Street, 5th Floor

Leave it to restaurateur Justin Cucci to always bring an element of fun when drinking or dining with a group. Hop the elevator to El Five, his new spot off 29th and Umatilla, and step off on the fifth floor, where guests will find one of the more breathtaking views of the Denver skyline. This is a restaurant built for enjoying drinks and tapas with a crew, featuring an assortment of global inspirations — intrinsic to anything the Edible Beats group touches. For a thirsty group, consider ordering from the porron section of the menu, which includes the shareable Shady (Ratio Dear You Saison and bitter lemon soda), the L5 Vermouth & Tonic, red wine or sangria. The porron itself is a Spanish wine vessel with a narrow spout that guest with good aim can pour directly into their mouths.

click to enlarge You can call ahead to Tupelo Honey to reserve this table and work with the beverage team to put something great on tap — even batched cocktails. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
You can call ahead to Tupelo Honey to reserve this table and work with the beverage team to put something great on tap — even batched cocktails.
Danielle Lirette
Tupelo Honey
1650 Wewatta Street

Recently opened in the Union Station North area, North Carolina-born Tupelo Honey is all about serving creative Southern fare and encouraging guests to have a little fun. This is true across the board, including the beverage program from beverage director Michael Echeveste. With an impressive lineup of craft beers, a well-chosen list of wines and an inventive list of cocktails, Tupelo also features pleasantries like a frosé machine, Cristal Champagne sold by the chalice, the $0.75 seersucker martini lunch special, a Dirty South happy hour, and the group seating option that includes a beverage draft system right in the middle of the table. As part of the Dirty South happy hour, guests can order the Corpse Reviver #2 (gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon, Copper & Kings absinthe, fennel), which serves two to six people, or a giant Derby Day Mint Julep (Old Forester bourbon, mint, angostura bitters) that serves four to six people.

Hop Alley
3500 Larimer Street

Sharing is the name of the game at Hop Alley, a restaurant from chef/owner Tommy Lee, which showcases an assortment of Chinese-influenced dishes ideal for passing around or spinning around the lazy Susan at the group dining table. The cocktail menu encourages the same when dining in numbers, with a punch and large-cocktails section that includes the Plymouth Guggle Jug (Plymouth gin, Lillet Blanc, honey, raspberry), the Whiskey Tea Pot served in an actual teapot (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit, black tea), the Very Large Pineapple served in a giant pineapple tumbler (Absolut Elyx vodka, passion fruit, Aperol), and the Daquiri in a Porron (fino sherry, lime, honey, Drambuie, sparkling wine). Want to enjoy wine, beer, or cider in a large-format way? No problem: Just ask for a porron of whatever you fancy.

Ace Eat Serve
501 East 17th Avenue

Ace Eat Serve doesn't shy away from anything that creates more socialization, drinks included. This ping-pong hall and eatery offers the Steuben's Scorpion Bowl (Gosling's Black Seal rum, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Leopold Bros. peach liqueur, orange, pineapple, cranberry, lime, orgeat), initially made popular at sister/neighbor restaurant Steuben's, and a carbonated cocktail punch served by the liter and created to serve three to six people.

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Lauren Rapp works in experiential marketing by day and moonlights as Westword Colorado Concierge, answering your dining-specific queries.
Contact: Lauren Rapp