In a city bubbling over with craft breweries and themed cocktail spots, where do adults go who want to hang with the big kids but drink like a little one? Often non-imbibers are relegated to the limited options from a soda gun or a single pot of coffee that's been burning away on a warmer all day. Still, there had to be some eateries in Denver that offered fancy mocktails to rival spicy cocktails, and we set out to find them. Here are five great restaurants that are ahead of the pack in the beverage department, offering great options for connoisseurs of booze-less enjoyment.
5) MCA Café & Bar at MCA Denver
1485 Delgany Street
MCA Denver's rooftop social spot, the MCA Café & Bar, does so many things right. The view of the upcoming area around Union Station is unparalleled from both the patio and inside the glass-encased café (despite encroaching construction). The service is beyond excellent; baristas take their time with you, chatting while crafting cups of coffee and mixing cocktails. But it's the snack shop and mini-bar's non-alcoholic drink options that really take the cake. In addition to a nice selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks, MCA Café & Bar offers coffee, tea, San Pellegrino and Izze. A favorite with the alcohol-free is the still relatively unknown but delicious selection of DRY soda — grab a bottle of this pop in flavors like Lavender, Cucumber and Rhubarb for an adult alternative to the sugary, sweet and bubbly.
3350 Brighton Boulevard
It's not often that a restaurant goes out of its way to create a true mocktail, but Acorn goes the distance. Beautiful masterpieces like Southeast Visions showcase craftsmanship in a cup, as blackberries, coconut water and grenadine come together, highlighted with fresh lemon and aromatic bitters. For Tea Time, the bar layers seemingly clashing flavors of green tea, lavender, ginger beer and grapefruit bitters to build the surprisingly complementary drink. And for palates on the hunt for a less complex flavor profile, Acorn's root beer, ginger and melon chamomile sodas hit the spot every time.
3) Cuba Cuba
1173 Delaware Street
Nothing is more disappointing than sitting down at a restaurant known for handcrafted cocktails and getting the soda shaft as a non-drinker. Cuba Cuba offers just the opposite of that experience, with a menu offering virgin options to rival its fruity, tangy, tasty, boozy concoctions. There's the Coobs Lemonade, a simple but enticing mix of lemon, sugar, water and a splash of soda (sweetened with strawberry or blackberry flavoring if you wish to add some extra zing). Coffee fiends can sip on caffeinated delicacies like the Cortadito — a single shot of Bustelo espresso with evaporated milk and sugar.
1441 Larimer Street
The food is adventurous at all of the restaurants in Troy Guard's empire, so why wouldn't the drinks be as well? Non-drinkers will find a bounty of refreshing options on TAG's list of mocktails. The Coconut Soda mixes coconut milk, lime, simple syrup and soda to create a beverage both creamy and crisp, with plenty of zip. Then there's the TAG Ginger Ale, which carries that deliciously spicy aftertaste only fresh ginger can provide. But it's the Virgin Kumquat Jalapeño Mojito that takes this menu to the next level — a true virgin version of an alcoholic beverage with all of the adult, dignified drink fanfare.
1) Pho 95
1401 South Federal Boulevard
Like many Pho restaurants along the Federal strip, Pho 95 has a fine selection of boba teas — but the establishment's wide variety of other non-booze options (served up alongside a wild selection of specialty alcoholic cocktails, FYI) really makes it the cream of the crop. From the classic iced coffee and condensed milk to the custard-like goodness of soda sua hot ga (soda, egg yolk and condensed milk) and, of course, a nice and zesty salty lemonade, Pho 95 has just what you thirst for. Fountain sodas can be found here, too, but the Arnold Palmer, coconut juice and hot tea selections are really the best in simple refreshment.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.