Cinco de Mayo? Sure. But these three cocktail, spirit and beer bars truly deserve a visit any day of the year.
While you might spot a margarita on (one of) their menus, we suggest going for something else. Sip on a copita of mezcal, or ask for a flight to compare a few expressions of the spirit. Order a pre-Colonial brew drawn from Incan and Aztec traditions. And try the Estus — plus other unique agave-based cocktails — made with mezcal, lemon, amaro and Chartreuse.
You can always go back to margaritas, too.
For agave spirit cocktails
This open-air bar on East Colfax manages to combine some of the most unassuming — but delicious — food and drinks within a cool, casual setting. Try the Estus ($14, described above) or My Scoville Romance ($12, pictured left) with chili-infused mezcal, activated charcoal, lime and tamarind salt. There are plenty of other spirits, beers and boilermakers on the menu for those who don’t geek out on agave. But trust us, the mixed drinks here are hard to beat.
3401 E. Colfax Ave., middlemanbar.com
For mezcal flights and tastings
This selection of mezcal, sotol, raicilla and other traditional Mexican spirits (around 300 at any given time) is truly on its own level in Denver. Go to learn about the spirits and try sipping on them, with some helpful guidance from the knowledgeable bar team. You can pair the cocktails or copitas with plates from chef-owner Silvia Andaya, such as molcajete ($33.95) or mole Oaxaca ($15.95).
13 E. Louisiana Ave., ladonamezcaleria.com
For pulque, chicha and tepache
Some 3,000-year-old Incan and Aztec ferments are at the heart of this South Broadway brewery. You’ll want to try the annually released Moctezuma Imperial Pulque (10% ABV), which has been aged using a traditional method — in clay amphora — and tapped in early May.
For a more sessionable brew, try the pineapple tepache (4.5%). And non-drinkers can just as easily enjoy the atmosphere while sipping on Peruvian Chicha Morada, similar to root beer and made with purple corn, fruits, spices and cane sugar.
1236 S. Broadway, dosluces.com
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