Scene

Bittersweet

Cocktails get a Colorado twist with Dram Apothecary.

November 2013

Colorado’s Dram Apothecary is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “drink in your surroundings.” The two-year-old Silver Plume company uses only materials foraged in Colorado’s high country, such as sage and flower blossoms, to create its line of bitters—citrus, chamomile, sage, and classic aromatic bitters.  

Apparently “Colorado” is a popular flavor: Mega-retailer Anthropologie’s home and garden store, Terrain, recently added the bitters (digestifs made from herbal essences and used in cocktails) to its inventory, and Martha Stewart featured them on her radio show. In fact, Dram’s products are so popular that 27-year-old owner Shae Whitney opened a bar/production facility in Silver Plume this summer to meet demand.

Whitney’s come a long way since launching the business in 2011 while working as a bartender at City O’ City. “I was feeling really unconnected with my community,” Whitney says. “One day I realized that making bitters would be a great way to get outdoors and get connected.”

The graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, tinkered with recipes, swore off synthetic flavors, and resolved to use only glass and wood containers. Metal can affect the pH balance of the oils she painstakingly extracts from her foraged ingredients, which she spends 20 hours collecting each week. Whitney began selling her natural concoctions at the Denver Handmade Homemade Market and soon expanded to markets and specialty shops in New York, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles.

Denver took a little more convincing: Until this year, Whitney had only a handful of local clients, including Forest Room 5 (her first Colorado account). But the Centennial State has finally caught on. You’ll find Dram bitters in cocktails at Steuben’s, CafeBar, and other restaurants, as well as in specialty shops such as Cured and Divino Wine & Spirits. Or buy them online to bring a taste of the wild home. dramapothecary.com

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MIX IT

Shae Whitney’s Nocturne of November
This cozy cocktail is all about smoke and sage flavor—and warming bourbon, of course.

2 ounces High West Campfire Bourbon
   (a blend of scotch and bourbon)
¼ ounce Fernet Branca
¼ ounce Nocino Black Walnut liqueur
5 shakes Dram Wild Mountain Sage Bitters
A pinch of finely ground alderwood
Smoked salt
Fresh sage

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake well to dissolve the salt. Serve in a martini glass and garnish with fresh sage.

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Bonus: The next time you're stalled on I-70, stop at Bread Bar, which Shae Whitney co-owns with her boyfriend, Brady Becker. Try an Old Fashioned cocktail concocted with Dram's Hair of the Dog Hangover Tonic, Whitney's popular take on classic aromatic bitters. 1010 Main St., Silver Plume; Friday 4–9 p.m., Saturday 1–9 p.m.; 720-608-0063