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Smart Sips: Adrift’s Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi

Cool off with this creamy frozen cocktail.

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Colorado may be landlocked, but island-inspired Adrift Tiki Bar in the Speer neighborhood manages to deliver a slice of beachside heaven. That’s especially true now that the serene enclosed patio is open for the season, with its brilliant hula dancer mural (by Denver graffiti artist Jolt), grass-hut awnings, and piping-hot lava rock fire pit. Nothing pairs better with patios than cocktails, and you’ll definitely want to soak up the warm weather with Adrift’s macadamia nut chi-chi in hand.

First things first: What’s a chi-chi? The chi-chi, which is the only cocktail that remained on the menu when the team behind Little Man Ice Cream took over operations at the restaurant last year, is a frozen blend generally made with vodka (Adrift uses Pearl), pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and ice. However, Adrift kicks the flavor up a notch with the addition of rich macadamia nut liqueur and the subtle molasses notes of demerara sugar. (Pro tip: Make it a choo-choo by swapping Old Forester bourbon whiskey for the vodka, or a cha-cha by opting for Crested Butte-based Montanya Distillers’ rum.) The concoction is then whizzed into a smooth, creamy slushy spiked with just the right amount of booze, then poured into a pilsner glass and garnished with a cherry and an edible orchid. General manager Zach Sipherd describes it as “the tiki-version of a piña colada [which is actually Puerto Rican in origin].” We just call it delicious: The subtleness of the vodka doesn’t overwhelm the nutty flavor of the macadamia liqueur, and while it’s sweet enough to pass as dessert, it’s still balanced.

Adrift
Adrift’s malasada doughnuts. Photo by Claire Lardizabal

Try the chi-chi during happy hour on Tuesdays through Saturdays (from 4 to 6 p.m.), when all tiki cocktails are $2 off, or during the newly launched weekend brunch. If you go for brunch, be sure to pair your chi-chi with chef Tyler Critchfield’s to-die-for malasada doughnuts, pillow-soft brioche doughnut holes covered in lilikoi (passion fruit) caramel and sprinkled with coconut sugar. Tropical getaway, complete.

218 S. Broadway, 303-778-8454

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