Freshcraft was not a bar likely to ever make my radar in normal times, located as it is on a block of LoDo where I seldom find myself, either accidentally or on purpose. But one of the few highlights of "safer at home" is finding little places like this while on the digital hunt for a good happy hour to go. Freshcraft is best known for its carefully curated 26 tap handles, but it also offers killer canned cocktail options at an affordable price. Combine that with free delivery (so tip your delivery driver well) and you’ve got yourself an easy homebound happy hour.
One thing missing in getting your cocktails delivered is Freshcraft’s neighborhood aesthetic. The place reminds me of the narrow Midwestern bars I frequented during grad school (but with twice the number of TV screens), while the intimate booths and varnished wooden tables have a bit more of a New Jersey-diner feel. While I skipped the nostalgia of an in-person visit, Freshcraft has reopened its dining room for reservations at reduced capacity for safe and well-spaced dining, if you'd rather experience things firsthand.
Although the $16 mixed six (a mystery selection of six craft cans) appealed, Freshcraft’s many beer options seem best left for when I'm once again willing to sit at the bar and pick beers at leisure. Instead, I focused on the bounty of housemade canned cocktails, which range from $6 to $16 — pretty affordable, considering that each twelve-ounce can serves two or three drinks over ice and comes with garnish. The bar also entices you with a rotating cocktail of the week (which was the RiNo Colada the evening I ordered) and a 32-ounce rum punch boasting “tropical flavors” and “mellow vibes."
Sold on my liquor choices — the rum punch, a canned Paloma (one of my faves) and a grilled-lemon-infused City Park Sipper — the snack situation felt a bit trickier. I knew I wouldn't be imbibing until later, so eyeing the time-sensitive pretzel bites, parmesan truffle fries and fried pickles was torture. Luckily, two Freshcraft snacks were better suited to delayed gratification: the beet-brined deviled eggs and the chicharrones.
When five o’clock finally hit, it was everything I could do to pause and take a picture of my beautiful Paloma and its torched-grapefruit garnish, a refreshing sip of which I drank straight from the can before pouring. The City Park Sipper was fancy, with fresh strawberries and aromatic basil, essential accoutrements to offset our crunchy fried pig skin. I’d like to say the PorchCrawler rum punch required nothing but a tiny umbrella, but the jungle juice proved strong on its own, so I topped mine with a bit of bubbly, which I recommend as a perfectly acceptable addition.
The beet-brined deviled eggs were a sight to behold, a radiant magenta with flecks of green and a paper-thin feather of crispy carrot. While attractive, the whites were a bit rubbery, albeit tangy, and the innards runnier than expected (though some people like their yolks that way). The accompanying nub of smoky bacon brought the bite together, though. The chicharrones could have used a little more spice, but that didn't prevent my happy-hour companions and me from promptly polishing them off.
The night left me with about half a jug extra of the boozy (and not too sweet) rum punch, so I have another four cocktails to get me through the week, especially when stretched with sparkling wine. Not a bad deal, by any means, although next time you’ll find me at the bar with a beer and those pretzel bites.
Freshcraft is located at 1530 Blake Street and is open from 11:30 a.m. to close Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to close on Friday and Saturday, with shorter delivery hours; see the restaurant's website for details and reservations, or call 303-758-9608.
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