Longtime Liquor Store Pivots, Bringing the Spirit of Oaxaca to Golden

Destilados de Agave at Golden Liquors is now open.
Destilados de Agave at Golden Liquors is now open. Molly Martin
Last year, I found myself sitting at a large wooden table outside of a home in Oaxaca City, Mexico, sipping copita after copita of mezcal, each made from a different type of agave plant in a rustic distillation setup just steps away, and poured for me by a family that has been creating the agave spirit for generations.

The colors, sights and culture of Oaxaca are nothing short of mesmerizing, made even more so if you get the chance to experience the historic craftsmanship, hard work and passion that goes into creating mezcal.

That experience had a huge impact on Nate and Briana Austin, the owners of Golden Liquors, at 601 13th Street in Golden, just across the street from the Coors Brewery.

After working as a bartender in the service industry for years, Nate decided he needed a change of pace. But he also wanted to continue working in a space where he was knowledgeable. So five years ago, he and his wife, along with another partner, purchased the liquor store, which itself has a long history. (Its original license dates back to 1902.)
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The entry to the new tasting room.
Briana Austin
But just as the store was hitting a nice stride, the pandemic came along. Coors shut down brewery tours and visitors weren't venturing to Golden. Business dwindled to the few locals who would venture out, which was a big hit to the bottom line for a small shop.

Then last November, voters passed Proposition 125, allowing for the sale of wine in grocery and convenience stores, a move that many independent liquor stores worry will cut into their revenue deeply. "We know spirits are next," Nate notes, explaining why he and Briana came up with a plan: giving the store a full makeover and relaunching as an agave spirits-focused retail destination, complete with a tasting room.

Nate's passion for agave spirits, which range from tequila and mezcal to sotol and raicilla, was sparked while he was working in the Denver bar scene. He continued his education during multiple trips to Mexico, including a month-long visit to Oaxaca in February in preparation for the shop's relaunch as Destilados de Agave at Golden Liquors, which will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, April 1.
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Art from Oaxaca fills the shop.
Briana Austin
"The entire environment is immersive in Oaxaca," Briana says, noting that the refreshed, airy space has been completely transformed. Art from the birthplace of mezcal lines the walls, and the area behind the cash register is wrapped in a photograph of an agave field in Oaxaca, shot by Tony White (a friend of the Austins and occasional Westword contributor), who now lives in Oaxaca City and runs a culturally immersive tour company called Almas Viejas.

"We want this to be a little piece of Oaxaca," Briana says.

"Enough to just give people a taste, so they can go and get the real thing," Nate adds. That's his real goal with this new shop. For him, it's not about jumping on the growing public interest in agave spirits or angling for more profits. This is truly "just a labor of love," he explains. "What I really want to get into is how important it is to go down there. There are so many amazing things to see."
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The revamped store offers a more relaxed shopping experience.
Briana Austin
The store also has a new tasting room, where the Austins plan to host brand tastings, cocktail classes and other events to further spark interest in the history, culture, people and stories behind agave spirits.

Along with a wide selection of agave spirit brands — "a curated list built on relationships we have down in Mexico," according to Briana, most of them small, family-owned labels — the store will continue to carry a  selection of over 250 craft beers. "That's our bread and butter," she notes, adding that the popular build-your-own six-pack option will remain, too. And it still offers Coors, of course.

But there's a whole new energy at Golden Liquors. "It makes it fun to be at work," Nate says. "I don't care if I'm here ten hours a day, because I'm finally talking about what I want to talk about. Now we're really able to speak to something we love."

Destilados de Agave at Golden Liquors is open from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with a grand-opening celebration, including tastings, set for Saturday, April 1. For more information, visit
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin

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