The Art DeCo at The Molecule Effect
“We try to take ‘locally-sourced’ to the extreme,” says Mark Landman, who opened The Molecule Effect with partner Megan Rodgers in late 2014. “When we think of ingredients for anything, we start right here and we start to go outward from there.” The community-focused lounge, located at 12th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, was built around a philosophy of honoring the surrounding Lincoln Park neighborhood as much as possible. One of the cocktails they serve at Molecule Effect sources ingredients so locally, that it’s named after a nearby business.
“All of our cocktails were either inspired by someone in our neighborhood, or created by someone in our neighborhood,” Landman explains. One example: the staff from Crossfit DeCo, a neighborhood gym located a few blocks away, was having a party at Molecule Effect. When they told Landman and Rodgers what they wanted to drink, the two crafted a recipe just of them.
“Some said a mojito, some said a margarita,” Landman says, “so we said, ‘Okay what can we do that might be a fusion of that?’” What they came up with they called the Art DeCo, made with tequila blanco, agave syrup, lemon juice, mint leaves and spiced plum tea.
The main ingredient is Proximus, a fruity white tequila with a citrusy aroma made from 100% blue agave in Arandas in the Los Altos region, one of Mexico’s two main tequila-producing regions. “One of our biggest interests here is that everything is locally sourced,” Landman says, “and while Proximus is a Mexican tequila, it’s locally owned. It’s got a nice little spice to it,” he says, “a little bit of a cinnamon, a little bit of a white pepper.”
To make the drink, Landman pours Proximus, agave syrup and lemon juice in a shaker tin over ice, tossing in a few fresh-picked mint leaves. After shaking the ingredients, he strains them out into a glass filled with fresh ice. He then finishes the drink by topping it off with iced tea, also sourced from a nearby business.
Teakoe, a Colorado-based tea company, makes the spiced plum tea used in The Art DeCo. Its complex flavor includes dried plum, hibiscus, licorice root, cinnamon, clove and vanilla bean. As it is poured into the glass, the bright amethyst-colored tea floats on top of the other ingredients, creating a striking bi-colored cocktail.
“I’ve never tasted anything like that kind of tea,” Rodgers says. “I love it because it has a spice to it. It doesn’t have any sugar, it’s caffeine free, and it’s just unique.”
“I think that the experience of the cocktail is pure enjoyment,” Rodgers continues. “It’s actually very refreshing, and I think the aesthetic part of it people really enjoy. It’s just different.”
Cocktail ingredients aren’t the only things Landman and Rodgers source locally. The beer list includes brews from Renegade Brewing Company and Strange Craft Beer Company. Spirits include vodka from the local Rising Sun Distillery and Tin Cup whiskey, which is bottled in Denver.
All of The Molecule Effect’s used coffee beans are donated to a local garden to make compost. The paintings on the walls are local, too, created by artists living in the neighborhood.
Landman and Rodgers also live nearby. Moving to the area a year and a half ago, they soon saw that the neighborhood lacked a place to enjoy those things they loved: coffee and wine. As self-proclaimed science geeks, they not only enjoyed those beverages, but were fascinated by their chemical makeup.
“The Molecule Effect name comes from our interest in chemistry,” Landman says, “but not only the chemistry in drink-making — the chemistry amongst people.” While caffeine and alcohol might course through your veins and have an effect on you, so do people circulate around each other, and have an effect on each other.
Because of their business name and interest in chemistry, Landman and Rodgers try to make drinks with a strong visual presentation.
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“We think of traditional drinks with a twist,” Landman says. “We are not classically trained bartenders, but we are very creative individuals.”
The Art DeCo
1.5 ounces Proximus blanco tequila
.75 ounces agave syrup
.75 ounces lemon juice
Several mint leaves
Teakoe spiced plum tea
Pour tequila, agave syrup and lemon juice into a shaker tin filled with ice. Add mint leaves and shake. Strain into a glass over fresh ice and top with plum tea. Garnish with a mint sprig.