Changes have been at the works at Pizzeria Basta, the Boulder-based restaurant that has served Napolitano-inspired -- but American-sourced -- pizzas paired to a wine and beer list for the past two years. A couple of months ago, chef/owner Kelly Whitaker rolled out a menu of housemade pastas to supplement that menu, and he and Al Henkin, co-owner and beverage director, got to work securing a full liquor license.
They landed it, and next week Basta will unveil a cocktail program.
But like everything else in the restaurant, Henkin plans to keep the drink list simple. "It's a matter of how many cocktails can we make with ten bottles of liquor," he explains, adding that he only has very limited space for his bar. "We wanted great representation of each base spirit, and we looked locally first, domestically second, and then as far as we needed to look to get the product that we wanted."
His final collection comprises just three whiskeys, two gins, one vodka, one rum, one tequila, one mezcal and a slew of bitter liqueurs, with Leopold's one of the best-represented producers. And Henkin plans to keep the mixology simple, at least at first. "The cocktail list is coming together," he says. "We're doing classic cocktails or twists on classics, with the late 1800s or early 1900s as the basis of our list. We're not doing anything completely new at this point."
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The drinks board is divided into four sections: sparkling, shaken, stirred and neat. The list will debut with a champagne cocktail and a spritz -- probably Cynar or Campari until Henkin can pick up Aperol -- as well as citrus-based shaken cocktails and heavier liquor-based cocktails. As for the neat section, the barman says it'll be a list of grappas, amaros and whiskeys.
But even though Henkin isn't reinventing the wheel with his list, he does plan to brand one drink as a Basta special. "We'll do a whiskey daisy as sort of a house cocktail," he says. "Strega, whiskey, muddled lemon and muddled lime, shaken and served over ice in a highball glass. It's like a whiskey sour, but more herbaceous."
The booze is all stocked, but the restaurant won't begin serving it until Tuesday. After that, plans are in the works for a happy hour, too.