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—Photo by Anieca Ayler

Sips: Linger’s New Saigon

This LoHi restaurant's new status as the nation's Best Restaurant Bar called for an investigative sip.

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Add this to the ever-growing list of reasons why imbibers like Denver: Last month, Linger was named the Best Restaurant Bar of 2015 by national industry magazine Nightclub & Bar, beating out hundreds of other U.S. eateries.

We already know that Linger is part of Justin Cucci’s Edible Beats family (which includes Root Down, the soon-to-open Ophelia’s, as well as the pending Vital Roots and L5), and it serves killer food. Nonetheless, this kind of national recognition warranted another trip to the LoHi restaurant.

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One look at the eclectic drink menu takes you on a quick trip around the globe: Sangria Rojo, French Quarter, Marrakesh Express, Streets of Puebla. Our drink of choice? The New Saigon, which is made with gin, Thai basil, cucumber, jalapeño, lime, and black pepper. The Vietnamese-inspired drink is strategically positioned somewhere between savory and spicy, a balance bar director Mike Henderson says took a long time to strike. The wild card of the drink is the jalapeño, an unpredictable ingredient at best. Henderson’s trick to keeping it consistent is simple: jalapeño-infused syrup.

Bonus: Find the recipe for the New Saigon cocktail in 5280: The Cookbook.

Simplicity is how Henderson approaches cocktails, likening them to math equations. “They’re as simple as possible, and no more complicated than they need to be,” he says.

Which could explain that while the drink menu is all over the place (literally), it feels deliberate. “We spend a lot of time and consideration on the menu,” Henderson says. “Every cocktail is there for a reason.”

The menu’s theme of thoughtful eclecticism extends to Linger’s decor: the quirky upstairs bar that’s lit by Lite-Brites, recycled geometric pink wallpaper, tables made of reused factory parts, purple reupholstered chairs. Touches of the building’s previous life as part of a mortuary still live on (a coffin-shaped happy hour menu, Linger “Eatuary”), and those add to Linger’s mystique and edge. All of this contributes to Henderson’s number one goal: “We want you to feel cool.” Do so by stopping by and sipping a New Saigon.

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Don’t miss: Linger’s lively happy hour (Tuesday to Friday, 4 to 6:30 p.m.) champions $5 cocktails (including the New Saigon), $4 drafts, and a hoard of $5 global-fare small plates. More taste-tested picks: the La Rosa cocktail, Falafel Lettuce Wraps, and the Wagyu Slider.

Inside Look: Click here for the secret to Justin Cucci’s restaurant decor.

2030 W. 30th Ave., 303-993-3120

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