State law allows liquor makers to sell their booze on-site, but only their booze—which can translate to lackluster visitor experiences. (Note: The Distillery Pub License, enacted in 2015, permits the sale of outside alcohol, but then 15 percent of revenue must come from food sales; this means giving up precious real estate for kitchen space.)
These three distilleries, however, have dreamed up innovative ways to transform their tasting rooms into some of the coolest cocktail bars around.
There’s a lot to be excited about inside this LoHi haunt, which opened in November: vodka, gin, and rum (with more to come) from distiller Rob Masters; excellent small plates courtesy of restaurateur Justin Cucci (Root Down, Linger, El Five) and chef Tim Dotson; and a gorgeous space designed by local firm Tres Birds Workshop. But the cocktail program developed by Nick Touch, a founding bartender at Williams & Graham, might be the best part yet. Family Jones’ small-batch still enables Touch and Masters to tinker with 100-plus botanicals as they craft modifying liqueurs, including in-house substitutions for sweet vermouth and triple sec. 3245 Osage St., 303-481-8185
Before opening in mid-December 2017, the founders of this RiNo spirit house—brothers Kameron and Kraig Weaver and Kraig’s fiancé, Michelle Flake—concentrated on creating a unique on-site experience. It begins with the decor. Kraig (also owner of And Collaborative, a furniture fabrication and design company) focused on integrating traditional touches with nods to RiNo’s edgy character (exhibit A: raw metal barstools with tufted seats). The signature spirits are three-grain vodka and gins for every season (peppery for autumn, citrusy for summer, etc.), and Block is partnering with its winery neighbor, the Infinite Monkey Theorem, by using its grape skins for grappas and vermouth-style spirits. 2990 Larimer St., 303-484-9033
Owner and lead distiller Michael Chapyak completely renovated the former Kitty’s South adult theater on South Broadway, but what he’s doing there is still pretty provocative: For starters, Archetype (slated to open in early 2018) won’t make whiskey. Also, under the guidance of director of mixology and education Simon Nicolian, Archetype has been experimenting with a rotary evaporator, a device that concentrates flavors from fruits, botanicals, and even meat. Chapyak and Co. can then use the natural, vibrant distillates to infuse Archetype’s vodka and gin offerings (already made with grapes instead of grain for a smoother finish) and create drinks you simply can’t find elsewhere in Denver. 119 S. Broadway