Over the years, we’ve watched as the house-made soda trend has bubbled up at local restaurants and bars. The beverages that have emerged reach beyond cola and into unusual flavors that hint at a larger culinary movement.
ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro
1555 Blake St., 303-353-5223
Since opening in 2010, ChoLon’s menu has changed somewhat regularly. But there’s one item chef Lon Symensma has stuck with for the past four years: the tamarind soda. Symensma turns the tropical plant’s fleshy pulp into a simple syrup that’s mixed with soda water for a bright, tangy, and subtly sweet beverage. Try it on its own or order it as a fizz with muddled mint and lime juice.
Ace Eat Serve
501 E. 17th Ave., 303-800-7705
Brothers Randy and Ryan Layman are the brains behind Ace’s eight soda flavors, which range from classic black cherry to sweet-and-spicy chile pineapple. Randy says the flavors were designed to complement the eatery’s bold, Asian-inspired dishes. The zippy ginger beer is a house favorite; we also recommend the Hammer & Spike, a refreshing cocktail built with Ace’s grapefruit soda, Hendrick’s gin, and fresh mint.
Hutch & Spoon
3090 Larimer St., 303-296-2317
Pair what we consider to be the city’s best meatloaf sandwich with one of Tracy Zimmer’s nine handcrafted sodas. The vanilla passion fruit—a sour, bright tangerine-colored thirst quencher speckled with vanilla bean—is big enough to stand up to the hefty meal. But, if you’re craving something with a little less zing, try the refreshing cucumber version. (The staple has been on the menu since 2009.)
1600 E. 17th Ave., 303-399-0988
Mary Nguyen puts as much thought into P17’s beverages as she does the food menu; she wants nondrinkers to have more options than just soda water. The bar team assembles a rotating lineup of seasonal sodas that contain no high-fructose corn syrup. On our last visit, the featured flavors were a bracing lemon sage and a dynamic grapefruit tarragon, which can both be enjoyed straight or mixed into mocktails or cocktails.