Summer Is Tequila Time at These Five LoDo Restaurants

Crafted Concepts has its own barrel-aged Patrón tequila.
Crafted Concepts has its own barrel-aged Patrón tequila. Mark Antonation
Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch, owners of five LoDo restaurants under the Crafted Concepts umbrella, took a trip to Mexico earlier this year and brought back something special for their customers. After touring Hacienda de Patrón in Jalisco, the two tasted their way through the tequila distillery's barrel room and picked out a favorite that will grace the bar shelves at Rioja, Euclid Hall, Bistro Vendôme, Stoic & Genuine and Ultreia. They'll also be running a tequila cocktail competition to help you quench your thirst this June and July.

click to enlarge The Crafted Concepts team narrows the contest down to one cocktail for each restaurant. - MARK ANTONATION
The Crafted Concepts team narrows the contest down to one cocktail for each restaurant.
Mark Antonation
Patrón Añejo is normally aged in oak barrels for twelve to fourteen months to give it a golden hue and a hint of oak. "This one is aged for 31 months," explains Gruitch of the barrel she and Jasinski chose. The contents of that barrel were bottled, slapped with a special Crafted Concepts label and shipped to Denver, where the spirit will be served at all five restaurants.

Gruitch and Jasinski also challenged the staffs of all their eateries to come up with creative tequila cocktail recipes, offering the prize of a free trip to Mexico for the winning recipe's creator.

Bartenders weren't the only cocktail competitors; the contest was opened to everyone, so waiters, chefs and runners also contributed their own concoctions. Bar managers from the five restaurants narrowed down the entries to two or three cocktails each and then conducted a tasting to determine which drink would go on the menus of the restaurants. Five winners were chosen, and they'll be available to customers beginning Monday, June 4. Purchase four and the fifth will be free, and tag the one you like best on Instagram to help choose an overall champ.

Team members took various approaches to their tequila creations. Some stuck close to Mexican classics with variations on margaritas and palomas, while others used their restaurant's cuisine as inspiration. At Stoic & Genuine, for example, the chosen entry is a variation of the classic Aviation cocktail, made with violet granita to mirror the granitas served with the restaurant's oysters. At Bistro Vendôme, two of the favorites were booze-forward and French in spirit; one was a Sazerac variant, but the finalist leans more Mexican, with chile pequin, Aztec chocolate and anchos combining in an Old Fashioned-style drink.

click to enlarge You'll be able to vote on this cocktail, which will be served at Ultreia. - MARK ANTONATION
You'll be able to vote on this cocktail, which will be served at Ultreia.
Mark Antonation
The contest continues through July 31, so you'll also be able to taste a summery cucumber, green apple and St. Germaine blend at Ultreia, a sweet-tart refresher made with Jumex peach nectar and raspberry-vanilla syrup at Euclid Hall, and a light limeade-style drink with hints of ginger and lemongrass at Rioja. Vote by posting a photo of your favorite on Instagram along with the tag #riojapatroncocktail,  #bistropatroncocktail, #euclidhallpatroncocktail,  #stoicpatroncocktail or #ultreiapatroncocktail.

Five cocktails in two months is a pretty manageable goal, so you can also look for other Patrón cocktails at each restaurant. While only five employees were selected for the final round, other favorites during the tastings will be offered as specials this summer.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation