I'm the first one to bitch and moan about how all the great dives in Denver are disappearing -- but then when someone like Frank Bonanno (Mizuna, Luca D'Italia, Osteria Marco, Bones and Green Russell) comes in and gentrifies the hell out of one of those dives, I can't wait to see what he's done.
And I have to admit that I'm so much happier sitting on one of the 25 seats at the bar at Lou's Food Bar , sipping a fancy-pants cocktail, than I ever would have been downing a PBR at the previous occupant of this address, Ron and Dan's Keg. Especially when the fancy-pants cocktail is as delicious as the Pelee Tamarind ($10) made from Depaz Rhum, Pusser's Rum, tamarind-infused Flor de Cana 7-year Rum, lime and housemade Orgeat, a sweet syrup created with almonds, sugar and rose or orange flower water.
The first taste of this the bucket-of-rum combination transported me straight from Lou's super-clean, contemporary atmosphere to some beach bar.
The cocktail menu changes nightly, so my travels continued to Paris with the French Revival ($10), made with lavender-infused Skyy Vodka, Domaine de Canton, St. Germain, Leopold Peach Liqueur and lemon and lime juice. I'm a lavender lover, so I was smitten -- although my friend, a lavender-loather, thought it tasted like soap (a common complaint of those loathers).
This northwest Denver neighborhood is changing, from the longtime 'hood of the Smaldones to a spot where ultra-modern duplexes are elbowing out the old bungalows. Lou's Food Bar may not seem a perfect fit yet, but if it keeps mixing up these delicious cocktails, more and more people will find their way to this bar.
I just don't want to know what the former patrons of Ron & Dan's will say about the lavender.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.