Five places to enjoy a summer drink -- before summer comes to an end

As the days get shorter and the back-to-school-zit-free! Proactiv commercials get more frequent, its apparent that summer 2010 is winding down.

Before it's over, take a minute to enjoy one (or all!) of these great summer drinking spots, and the drinks to go with them. P.S. They're even better if you drink them outside.

1) Moe's Original BBQ, 530 Broadway, is a welcome addition to the SoBro neighborhood with cool drinks, ridiculous meats, banana puddin' and a new awning on the front patio.

The awning was a crucial addition, as eating seared meat on the concrete in the dog days of summer sometimes felt like Dante's Inferno. The summer drink of choice in the shade is the John Daly: Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and house lemonade. Just like its namesake, the drink is southern, boozy, and goes the distance. Grab a tall one and play some cornhole on the patio's house boxes, breaking only for a "Bama" style sammy and a refill.

2) The Thin Man, 2015 East 17th Avenue, has more than a dozen kinds of infused liquors, and all of them taste great outside on a summer night.

The patio's quirky decorations and Uptown people watching make it an entertaining place to enjoy vodka infused with ginger, cucumber, pineapple, vanilla, mixed berry, sweet tea, jalapeno or mint. There's also strawberry-infused tequila, a delightful naughty-and-nice combo that goes great with a splash of lemonade. The sweet strawberry and lemon wrestle with that gnarly, nasty tequila bite on your tongue, and if the tequila starts to win, there's always the lemon garnish to the rescue!

3) If you ever need a reminder why you live in Denver, watch a summer sunset from the rooftop of Vita, 1575 Boulder Street.

Soak in the skyline with a cucumber lavender martini. Made with Skyy vodka, muddled cucumber, lavender and lemon and orange juice with a cucumber garnish, it's so crisp and refreshing on a hot day they should rename it "The Naked Slipn'Slide." At $8 a pop, it's hard on the wallet to have more than one, but if you make it for the daily happy hour from 3 to 6:30 p.m. you can switch to $2.50 beers, $4 wells, and down a few $3 sliders.

4) Sketch, 11 West First Avenue, has some truly knockout sangria -- and you know they're slinging the good stuff when there's a three drink limit.

The outdoor seating area is small, so scoot over there and claim a chair right after work. The white sangria is a summer staple with white wine and fruit soaked in vodka, gin, peach brandy and rum. A couple nibbles of pineapple and you might start reminiscing tearfully about all the good times you had at the closed Big Lots across the street. The sangria is a great deal for $5 during happy hour every day from 4 to 7 p.m.; 10 p.m. to close; and all day Wednesday.

5) The Nutella Marshmallow Milkshake at H Burger, 1555 Blake Street, is hands-down, balls-out, no-questions-about-it, the best summer drink to get your dirty little paws on before summer is over.

Ian Kleinman created the Nutella Marshmallow milkshake for both kiddies and adults. The grown up version has UV vodka, hazelnut liquor, Nutella and vanilla ice cream, topped with roasted marshmallows. The real special part is the liquid nitrogen, which gets added to the shake twice; once while blending to make a thicker, creamier shake, and the second time on top just for show. It's like getting a dessert with Jazz Hands!

The nitrogen also makes the marshmallows taste both toasted and frozen, a puzzle your mouth is happy to work on solving. There's just a little booze flavor, a nice offset to the sweet Nutella. There's also a boozy strawberry mint shake with Jim Beam, crème de menthe, strawberry purée, fresh mint leaves and vanilla ice cream. It a unique dessert/science experiment/cocktail all in one, and sipping it while watching the world go by on the 16th Street Mall is a Denver summer staple.

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Lucia Novara
Contact: Lucia Novara